Posts Tagged ‘Spring-piston rifles’
Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll begin looking at a .22-caliber BSA Supersport SE. This is a conventional breakbarrel spring piston air rifle in a beech stock. It’s been some time since I’ve tested a conventional new spring rifle like this.
The serial number of the rifle I’m testing is SSE22-770789-13. The metal finish is unpolished but probably tumble-finished, giving all the parts a matte sheen. The only plastic parts you can see on the outside are both sights, the safety lever and the triggerblade. They blend into the overall matte black finish very well.
The stock is shaped well and has 4 panels of pressed checkering — one on either side of the forearm and one on either side of the pistol grip. The BSA stacked rifles logo (called piled rifles in the UK, and the BSA logo is called the Pylarm logo) is pressed into the base of the pistol grip. The wood is finished smoothly, and the only rough area is the point where the black rubber buttpad meets the wood. That transition isn’t smooth, and there’s glue around the joint.
The barrel comes very far back when the rifle’s cocked, making this a long-stroke piston. The cocking linkage is in 2 pieces that are jointed to keep the cocking slot in the stock as short as possible, which reduces the feeling of vibration. BSA says that the action is internally weighted to deliver top performance. I’m thinking they mean that there’s a weighted top hat inside the piston, or the piston itself is heavy. Either way, the rifle should shoot medium and heavyweight pellets better than lightweight pellets.
The rifle is supposed to weigh 6.6 lbs., according to BSA information. The rifle I’m testing weighs 7 lbs. on the nose. The difference is attributable to the density of the wood in the stock.
BSA advertises the muzzle velocity at 730 f.p.s. That would be with a lightweight pellet, but I’m hoping it’s a light lead pellet. If so, that’s a good velocity for a .22 spring rifle — not too fast, yet plenty of power. We’ll find out in the velocity test.
The trigger is adjustable via an Allen wrench. The adjustment works on the second stage to lighten it or make it heavier. The safety is manual, which I must applaud. Only the shooter should be in control of the gun — never the design!
The sights are fiberoptic, front and rear. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, so I’ll start the accuracy testing using the open sights.
There’s an 11mm dovetail groove machined into the top of the spring tube, but BSA has long been noted for having its grooves set at the widest end of the size spectrum. For newer readers, 11mm is a nominal size for airgun dovetails. They actually range from 9.5mm out to almost 14mm, and BSA has always had the widest set. But it looks like the grooves are now 11mm apart.
I’m very pleased to see a deep, wide vertical scope stop hole in the middle of the dovetails at the rear of the spring tube. This provides a solid anchor point for a vertical scope stop that most of the conventional 11mm scope rings have.
Solid firing cycle
I couldn’t resist shooting the rifle a couple times to check the trigger and the firing cycle. The trigger is definitely 2-stage, with some creep in stage 2. I’ll work on that for next time. The firing cycle is quite smooth. It’s got a hint of spring buzz, but only a hint. The shot feels solid and there is no hurtful vibration at all. This is a very pleasant spring rifle to shoot!
I would add that, when I cocked the rifle, the stroke felt to smooth that I almost thought it had a gas spring. Ten years ago, I would have said this rifle has been tuned. It feels that smooth. The cocking effort is heavier — going up around 40 lbs., as a guess. In recent years, I’ve seen a number of breakbarrel air rifles that cocked as smooth as this one, so what I believe is happening is the manufacturers are paying more attention to the internal tolerances. The result is that the buyer gets a smoother air rifle; and at the price for which this one retails, that’s quite a bargain. Five years ago, you got something much harsher for the same $250.
I have owned and tested BSA Supersport rifles in the past. In fact, in the 1990s they were a huge seller here in the U.S. They are no-frills rifles that offered good performance and accuracy at a good price. Let’s hope BSA has continued that tradition in this latest offering.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
Today, you’ll see how I fixed the bad muzzle crown on the BSA Super Meteor, and then we’ll see if that had any effect on the rifle’s accuracy. You might want to read Part 7, again, just to remind yourself of what I faced.
The BSA project has been just that — a project from the start. All I wanted to do was test another vintage spring-piston air rifle for you and report the results, but this particular air rifle has challenged me at every turn. From the time I bought it at the Roanoke airgun show last September, it’s been nothing but a prolonged learning scenario. I won’t bore you by recapping all that’s happened; but if you want to find out, read Parts 1 through 7.
At the end of Part 7, I showed you a nasty muzzle crown, which I surmised was the reason that all the pellets were leaving the barrel with a yaw to their axis. They weren’t tumbling, because every one of them struck the target paper in exactly the same orientation. They were yawing, or traveling forward while pointing off to one side. Because the barrel is rifled, they were spinning on their long axis, but that axis didn’t happen to coincide with their flight path.
The BSA Meteor crown has some serious nicks in it. The dark spot at 10 o’clock is the deepest. Compressed air could escape through this channel before any other part of the pellet leaves the bore, and the jet of air could push the pellet over on its side.
The solution was to crown the bore; but as you can see in the picture, the Meteor’s muzzle is counterbored by more than an inch. In other words, it isn’t where it appears to be from the side. It’s deep inside the barrel, where the theory says it shouldn’t get damaged as easily. Only this one was — perhaps from over-zealous cleaning through the muzzle. Who knows? The point is that it had to be fixed.
My shooting buddy Otho suggested a piloted counterbore to face off the crown true and square to the axis of the bore. And he volunteered to make the pilot, so I slugged the bore for him and found it was a diameter of 0.176 inches. That seemed odd to him because it’s larger than the bore of a .17-caliber rimfire bullet that’s about 0.172-inches. But that’s the difference between .17 caliber and .177 caliber — which is important for airgunners and firearms shooters to know. The pilot he made measures 0.1745 inches and fits the Meteor’s muzzle comfortably.
Otho made the pilot for this counterbore.
The counterbore chucked up perfectly in my portable electric drill. I allowed extra length for the bore to go down into the barrel and touch the muzzle without the drill chuck touching the barrel.
The counterbore is chucked in the drill and set to run true. It sticks out far enough to cut the crown without the drill chuck touching the barrel.
Plugging the barrel
Before starting the work, I pushed 3 fat pellets into the breech and then pushed them with a cleaning rod to within 2 inches of the true muzzle. These will keep the metal chips from dropping down the bore.
I oiled the counterbore and pilot with a good grade of light machine oil before inserting it into the muzzle of the gun. The drill was set on a slow speed, but I can also control the speed by how hard I squeeze the trigger. I wanted a slow steady turn without putting much pressure on the drill. The counterbore is sharp enough to cut the soft barrel metal without a lot of encouragement.
The drill is set to run slow, and I’m also slowing it more with the trigger. You don’t need speed for a cut like this.
After about 10 seconds of cutting, I removed the counterbore and cleaned the new crown with a cotton swab. There was a band of bright metal around the muzzle where the counterbore had cut. Upon close examination, I could still see gouges in the bright band. The gouges were deeper than the first cut.
The new crown is bright after the first cut, but there are still gouges that need to come out.
I cleaned the counterbore with a swab and oiled it again. Then, I made a second cut on the crown. This time, I felt the drill pulse as the cutter removed the uneven metal. It became smooth, and I knew the cut was finished. When I cleaned and inspected the new crown this time, it appeared smooth and even. The job was done.
I apologize for the blurriness of this picture. Focusing on the crown is very difficult when I’m also trying to light it from the same axis as the lens is pointing. The lens is about one inch from the end of the barrel, and this was the best picture I got. There are still some faint marks on the crown. After examination with a loupe, I didn’t think they would be a problem.
At this point, I felt the crown was as clean as I could get it. And there was a simple way to see if this had made a difference. I drove the pellets in the bore out the muzzle and a few steel chips came with them. Next, I shot two RWS Hobby pellets offhand from 12 feet. If the crown was good, they would cut the paper perfectly instead of hitting sideways. And that’s what happened.
So, I backed up to 8 yards and shot 2 more shots from an improvised rest. These 2 pellets landed very close to each other and also showed no signs of tipping. I felt the job was done.
The two lower shots were from 12 feet. They confirmed the pellets were hitting the paper straight-on. The two upper shots were from an improvised rest at about 8 yards. They told me the crown is probably working.
Now for the test!
The test is a rerun of the Part 7 accuracy test. I used every pellet from the last accuracy test and shot at the same 10 meters.
Ten Eley Wasps went into 2.256 inches at 10 meters.
If you compare these targets to those in Part 7, one thing jumps out at you. None of these pellets tipped when they went through the paper. So, crowning seems to have solved that problem!
But the accuracy seems no better. The Hobbys did group better in this test, but the Falcons grouped worse. With groups this large at 10 meters, I’m not willing to say anything has improved. I’ve had cheap Chinese air rifles group better than this.
I have one trick left up my sleeve. I’ve noticed that the Meteor rear sight seems hinky and difficult to adjust, and I suspect it jumps around as I shoot. It’s not loose to the touch, but I don’t trust it to hold zero.
I’ll do one more test of this rifle with either a dot sight or with the See All Open Sight if I can get it mounted to the Meteor. If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably abandon this air rifle as a bad investment.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I didn’t plan on this test, but a big goof made during the last test of the red dot sight on the Air Arms TX200 Mark III forced me to rerun the test. The dot sight I used wasn’t anchored and was loose on the rifle at the end of the test. As long as I’m doing this again, I decided to make some lemonade. So, I’m going to show you a quick tip I use to anchor a scope or other optical sight when the mounts I choose have no stop pin built in. I may have covered this in the past, but bear with me as this is important to today’s test.
I want to get this test completed to clear the TX200 Mark III for the next test of the See All Open Sight. It turns out that the See All folks knew all about the problems their sight has with straight-line rifles like the M4, and they cover it in their FAQ section on their website. I didn’t read the FAQs before testing the sight; I just read the owner’s manual, so I missed that. But I thought you should know that they’re aware of the problem.
A quick fix to the scope stop situation
I often have to improvise things, and scope stops can give me problems. Since I have 25+ scopes on as many rifles, with a few extras sitting in the cabinet waiting to be mounted, I often run into a situation where the mounts that fit the scope I want to use (as well as the airgun I’m testing) don’t have the right stops. If the rifle has vertical scope stop holes like those on the TX200, the problem is solved by this quick tip.
The pictures show everything, but here’s what’s happening. A recoil pin is selected to fit in one of the rifle’s vertical scope stop holes. It doesn’t need to be attached to the scope mount — just dropped into the hole. Once it’s in the hole, slide the mount against it and tighten down the mount. As the rifle recoils, the mount tries to slide back, but that only jams it harder against the stop pin.
Slide the scope mount against the pin and tighten down the mounts. As the rifle recoils, it will just try to slide back and wedge against the pin tighter, so there will be no movement. The UTG Weaver-to-11mm adapter can be seen at the bottom of the mount. It’s the dark thing jammed against the pin.
Now that the fix is in place, we can begin the test. Since the red dot sight was off the rifle, I need to sight-in again. Hopefully, the sight will be pretty close this time! All shooting was from 25 yards with the rifle rested directly on a sandbag.
It took 3 shots to get on target this time. The sight was farther off than I expected.
The first pellet I tried was the H&N Baracuda Match. They did well in the last test when the sight wasn’t well anchored, so I figured they would continue to do well today. And they did. Ten shots went into 0.753 inches, and 9 of those went into 0.477 inches. That group is very round and uniform.
JSB Exact RS
Next up were JSB Exact RS domes. At just 7.33 grains, they’re very light for a rifle having this much power. But they sometimes give surprising accuracy. Not in the TX200, however. The group was open and was the largest of the 4 pellets I tested. Ten RS pellets went into 1.071 inches at 25 yards.
Crosman Premier 7.9 grains
Then, I tried a group with the Crosman Premier lite. Ten went into 0.641 inches, with 9 making a 0.397-inch group. So, this light pellet that I didn’t know could shoot in the big TX turned in the second best group of the day — besting the Baracuda Match pellets!
Crosman Premier heavy
The last pellet I tried was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. I expected them to beat the Premier lites, and that’s how it turned out. Though the group appears larger than the Premier lite group, it isn’t. Ten heavys went into 0.583 inches at 25 yards and this time there were no fliers. The group is elongated but has no one pellet apart from the group.
This test was conducted correctly, with the red dot sight anchored firmly to the rifle. I inspected the mounts after the shooting was finished, and the scope stop pin is still holding the rear scope mount firmly. These groups are representative of what I can do with a dot sight on a TX200. But how do they compare with the same rifle when it’s scoped?
With Baracuda Match pellets, the scoped rifle put 10 into 0.417 inches at 25 yards, while the same rifle and pellet made a 10-shot group measuring 0.753 inches with a dot sight. With Premier heavy pellets, the scoped rifle put 10 into 0.333 inches, while the same rifle and pellet made a 0.583-inch 10-shot group using a red dot sight. Clearly, the scoped rifle is more accurate than the same rifle with the red dot, although it’s still very accurate with the dot sight.
The question now is what will happen when I mount the See All Open Sight on this airgun? Can the groups be as small as those made by the red dot sight? Can they be smaller? We’ll find out next week.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Here’s our second look at what’s new in airguns for 2014. Last February, while I was having dinner with Hans Wonish of Umarex, he told me about the upcoming Broomhandle Mauser I’m now testing. After we discussed that for a bit, Herr Wonish asked me if there were any other handgun models that I though might be well-received by airgunners. Several crossed my mind, but the one that really stuck out was the Colt Python! This year, I saw that revolver in the Umarex booth!
BB gun shooters are going to love the new Colt Python .357 from Umarex. It uses real shells to hold the BBs!
Another new rifle from Umarex is going to have a lot of hunters excited because it offers something they’ve been requesting for a long time. The new Umarex Fuel breakbarrel spring rifle (with Reaxis gas piston and SilenceAir technology) has a bipod built right into the stock! That’s right — there’s nothing more to buy. Just pull the legs apart and rotate them down to make a solid field stand. Or flip them back up, and they’re just part of the stock.
Built-in bipod makes the Fuel spring rifle stand out — and up!
When not needed, the Fuel’s bipod folds neatly back into the stock.
Edith and I went snooping over in the German pavilion. In the Diana booth we saw a gun that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. yet. It’s the 340 N-TEC Premium, a breakbarrel Diana with a nice silencer on the muzzle and a beautiful walnut stock with deep checkering. That’s all pretty usual fare for Diana, except this rifle has something new. A gas spring that’s 100 percent German made!
The Diana 340 N-TEC Premium is German’s first rifle to have a German-built gas spring.
We’re fortunate to have Herr Michael Mayer (of Mayer and Grammelspacher — the owners of Diana) show the gun to us. He was justifiably proud of the craftsmanship of this beautiful rifle and told us we may start seeing them in the U.S. by June of this year.
AirForce Escape nets big sales on first day!
Remember the Escape rifles I showed you 2 days ago? Well, AirForce sold their entire first 3 months of production on the first day of the show! The reception was overwhelming for this rifle; and like I predicted, people who aren’t traditional airgunners were buying them, too!
Remington gets back into airguns
They haven’t made airguns since 1929, but Remington Arms is revitalizing their airgun selection in 2014. Leading the effort is Dani Navickas, the lady who served many of us at the old Beeman organization for so many years. She has spent a lot of time teaching the Remington staff about the airgun market, and it looks like it will pay off this year.
The first offerings are guns made in China, but don’t make a face. When I saw them, I was shocked. The quality looks as good as anything that comes from Europe these days. Each model is patterned after a popular Remington firearm, and the guns should be available to the U.S. market by early summer.
The Remington Express and Express Compact are 2 new air rifles from Remington. They say I can test an Express very soon!
Reminton also has a neat 1911A1 BB pistol. It has blowback and can fully disassemble like the firearm. I’ll test that one as soon as possible!
New Remington BB pistol has blowback and offers full disassembly. The grip safety really works!
Another new product from Remington are some great field targets with features I haven’t seen before. They offer killzone reducers that are permanently attached and just flip in and out of position! And some of them are resettable with a second shot — ending the need for long cords that can tangle and break.
Killzone reducers simply flip in and out of place! And reset the target with a hit on the bottom paddle!
With Dani at the helm, we can count on Remington to enter the airgun world in the right way. I hope they realize how fortunate they were to get her to lead their efforts!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
I’m headed to Las Vegas this weekend for the 2014 SHOT Show, so I’m asking veteran readers to help the newer readers more than usual. And I thank you in advance.
Tuesday’s blog will have something very important. It’s the first day of the SHOT Show, and I’ll show you something brand-new. It’s a pretty big deal, so it’s worth a look. Now, let’s get to today’s report.
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the BSA Super Meteor Mark IV that I’ve been working to restore. This report was never supposed to be an ongoing saga. It was supposed to be a quick 3-part look at a vintage air rifle, but the Meteor that I bought at the Roanoke airgun show last September turned out to need almost one of everything. So, I hunkered down and went to work.
I said in one of the earlier parts that fixing up an old spring-piston rifle is a lot like rebuilding an old tractor. Man, was that ever a prophesy! I had no idea that I would have to get down into the guts of the rifle to get it shooting again; but if you’ve followed along on all the earlier parts, you know that’s exactly what happened. Now that the old girl is shooting like she should, let’s see how accurate she is.
This is a vintage spring rifle with open sights, so I like to begin shooting those at 10 meters. Since I have no idea how accurate or inaccurate they are, it’s best to start close. If the groups show some promise, I can always back up to 25 yards and shoot a second test.
I figured a vintage airgun deserves a vintage pellet, so I broke out some obsolete Eley Wasps in .177 caliber as the first pellet. The first 2 shots were to sight in, and shot #1 was low, so I tried to adjust the rear sight up using the adjustment wheel. Alas — it didn’t move the sight! The backup plan was to loosen the rear sight blade and slide it higher. I also noted that the whole rear sight unit needed to be snugged down, so that was also done.
These .177 Eley Wasps are from the same timeframe as the Meteor rifle.
Loosen the 2 screws and slide the sight blade up to raise the point of impact.
Before we proceed, a word about .177 Eley Wasps is in order. Many of you know that the 5.56mm (.22-caliber) Eley Wasp is a particularly fat .22-caliber pellet. It’s often the best in vintage airguns whose bores are on the large side. But the .177-caliber Wasp is not an oversized pellet — at least not the ones I have. I often choose these pellets for guns with larger bores such as the Meteor, forgetting that these aren’t the best or biggest .177 pellets around.
I shot only 8 pellets at the target because the group grew to 3.559 inches between centers, and it didn’t seem worth my time to finish. But that wasn’t all I noticed. Most of the pellet holes are ripped out to the right, as if the pellets were not traveling straight. We know from the previous velocity test that this rifle now shoots fast enough to not tear target paper when the pellets pass through, so this tearing had to have been caused by the pellet’s orientation and not its velocity.
It only took 8 Eley Wasp pellets to convince me that this was not the right pellet for the Meteor. Notice the tearing of the paper! It’s all in the same direction. I’m cutting off parts of the bulls in this photo because they contain another group from another pellet.
Crosman Premier lite
These results were enough to convince me to use modern pellets in the Meteor. The next pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier lite. This time, I fired all 10 pellets, and the group was much smaller than before, but it still measured 1.73 inches between centers. That’s horrible for any air rifle at 10 meters!
What was even more surprising is the fact that the Premiers also tore paper to the right of the main pellet hole. In fact, they tore in exactly the same place!
It looks like 9 holes, but there are 10 Crosman Premier lite pellets in this group. It measures 1.73 inches between centers…and notice the tearing of the target paper in exactly the same way that the Eley Wasp pellets tore it.
If the pellets were tumbling in flight, the tears would be randomly scattered around the main hole because the tumbling pellet would change its orientation all the time. But because they are all in the same place, it looks like the pellets are tipping as they exit the muzzle and flying straight to the target in that tipped orientation. Hmmm! Have to think about that.
Air Arms Falcon
The next pellet I tried was the Falcon from Air Arms. I selected this pellet because the heads were sized large, at 4.52mm. They have the largest heads of any .177 pellets I have.
They put what looks like 9 shots into 1.863 inches between centers. Once again, several of the holes are torn on the right side.
The final pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. This is a large wadcutter that sometimes is very accurate at 10 meters. But not this time. Ten went into a group that measures 2.05 inches between centers. They also tore the paper to the right of the main pellet holes.
I knew something was wrong with the rifle because these pellets all fly at different speeds. There’s no way a tumbling pellet can tear the paper in exactly the same place when they all get there at different times. For even one single type of pellet to do that is hard to believe, but for 4 different types…it’s impossible. The pellets have to be leaving the muzzle tipped on their edge and remain in that orientation all the way to the target.
I know that most of you have guessed what’s wrong with the rifle by this point, but I hadn’t. Of course, I didn’t have someone pushing my nose into the facts like you have in this report. It wasn’t until my buddy Otho came by for a visit. I showed him the targets (because he has an interest in the Meteor, as you recall), and he said, “I’ll bet that barrel needs to be recrowned.”
Oh, my gosh! How could I fail to see that? Of course that was the problem. When I brought out the Meteor for him to look at, he saw it right away. I bet you will, too. The muzzle is backbored by more than an inch; but with a tactical flashlight, we were able to look down inside.
See the dark spot at 10 o’clock? It appears to be a nick in the muzzle. How it got there I don’t know, but it should be fixed.
The saga continues!
Yep, this Meteor is like an old tractor, all right. Just when you think you have the thing running and looking spiffy — the magneto quits. These days, there’s only one old man in Kansas who can repair them. Actually, I protesteth too much because I really enjoy working on this gun. It wasn’t made in China, yet it has turned out to be even worse than most of the very poor-quality Chinese airguns I’ve tested in the past.
In truth, there’s a lot of great engineering in this rifle, as well as a ton of abuse. You BSA Meteor owners out there know that I’m not purposely beating up your favorite airgun. It’s just that it challenges me at every turn. But that’s a large part of what makes this hobby interesting. After all is said and done, I’m not upset.
OK, take that report on a Friday and run with it! Remember, I’m on my way to Las Vegas and cannot answer as many comments as normal.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from blog reader DMoneyTT. He promised to show us how to fine-tune the Octane trigger, and he’s provided some good photos to go along with his article.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, DMoneyTT.
Umarex Octane trigger job
As the cost and availability of firearm ammunition continues to keep many shooters from getting adequate trigger time, scores of shooters are turning to airguns to keep their skills honed. Often, new airgunners will be tempted to put down their hard-earned dollars on a rifle offering the highest advertised velocity. Airgun marketing tends to focus on this aspect of performance over all else; but experienced shooters know that accuracy is paramount, and it takes more than just a good barrel and powerplant to deliver tight groups. Proper fit and trigger control are critical considerations when attempting to extract the maximum potential from any rifle.
It’s no secret that the Chinese-manufactured airgun market has seen unparalleled growth and their products are steadily closing the gap between these affordable rifles and their more precise, yet costly, brethren manufactured in Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States (to name but a few). Many times the differences in quality of manufacturing may be ironed out by the end user. It’s not beyond the skills or tools of the average shooter to dramatically improve the performance of a budget Chinese airgun.
For the shooter who desires all the power of a magnum springer and wants the accuracy to make good use of the velocity but doesn’t want to spend a lot, there are a few good choices. In my humble opinion, the best of these is the Umarex Octane combo. I picked one up several months ago, and it’s been a real joy to plink with and should be excellent for hunting small game, as well. The only downside to this excellent rifle is the trigger-pull. Out of the box, the pull on my rifle registered almost 10 lbs. Others have reported slightly less, so I may have started with an abnormally high pull weight to begin with. There was very little creep (which is a result of minimal sear engagement), and the break was quite crisp. So, a trigger job was necessary, and lessening the pull weight was the only task required.
I would like to say that this does take a steady hand, and careful attention should be paid to the work done on these tiny parts. Any work you decide to do on your rifle should be done with care to maintain the original parts geometry, and it’s always a good idea to carefully test the rifle after any work has been performed. I suggest reading this article before beginning any work to decide if this is within your skill set.
Note from B.B.: Do not work on your gun’s trigger if you do not already have experience working on airguns or are not 100% confident that you can properly disassemble and reassemble the gun and trigger. If you decide to do any part of this trigger tune, you will void the gun’s warranty.
The necessary tools are few.
You will need:
• An Allen wrench that fits the forearm screws.
• A large Phillips screwdriver
• Some paste-type lubricant (synthetic open-gear lube worked well for me)
• A fine wet stone (300-600 grit is preferable)
• A Dremel (or any other rotary tool) with a grey rubber polishing wheel may be used on contact points other than the primary sear and secondary sear interaction point because it’s too likely to round edges.
• A vise to hold the rifle while performing the work.
• Small needlenose pliers or hemostats.
So, let’s begin! Start by ensuring that the rifle is not cocked or loaded. The next task is to remove the stock from the rifle so the trigger group can be accessed. Use an Allen wrench to remove the two forearm screws that attach the action to the stock.
Next, a large Phillips screwdriver is used to remove the screw found behind the triggerguard.
The action can now be removed from the stock. It’s helpful to hold the rifle directly upside down, as the trigger pins fit very loosely and will fall out if the action is tilted to either side once the stock is removed. It’s wise to do all the work over a flat and clean surface that will easily allow dropped parts to be seen and recovered. I chose to mount my action in a vise to allow easy removal of the stock and to gain access to the components of the trigger group. It’s certainly easier to work on the rifle if both hands are free.
Here is the correct placement of the pins in the trigger housing.
Each pin will now need to be removed, and the associated component will need to come out with it. I find that hemostats are very helpful for those with large hands like mine. To help organize the parts, it’s advised to lay them on a white sheet of paper according to their position as they’re removed.
To illustrate the internal layout of the parts, I assembled a jig to hold the pins in the same position they are within the trigger housing. Notice that the shorter leg of the V-shaped sear spring rests against the secondary sear. This is important to reproduce when assembling the trigger group.
Now that the components have been removed from the trigger housing, warm soapy water should be used to degrease all the parts. All contact points between the parts should also be deburred and polished. These areas are circled below in red. I first used a fine (500 grit) whetstone to debur and smooth any rough surfaces. I then polished these parts with a very fine (1000 grit) whetstone. Remove as little metal as possible to get the desired mirror finish and be careful not to round any of the sharp edges. The goal is to make the parts smooth and shiny so they’ll slide against each other with minimal friction but not alter the shape of the parts.
Like the previous photo, these parts are also shown upside down.
Perhaps the most important part to refinish is the trigger adjustment screw. It comes from the factory with a very sharp point that digs into the tertiary sear where it touches. This galls the metal, and there’s significant drag produced when attempting to pull the trigger in its stock configuration. Simply removing this grub screw with a small Allen wrench and rounding and polishing the end that contacts the tertiary sear will reduce the pull weight by 2 or more pounds, depending on the severity of the galling.
I chucked this screw into my drill and spun it against my whetstone until it had a nice, smooth ball end instead of a sharp point. It should look like the image below when you’re done.
If you are not confident enough to tackle this full trigger job, the trigger adjustment screw can be removed from the rifle without any other parts being removed. That allows you to round and polish the end and install it in the trigger to realize a vastly improved trigger-pull with little work involved.
The adjustment of this screw has very little effect on the pull weight or quality because it allows adjustment of the first stage only. This first stage is not a true first stage because the sears do not move as the trigger travels through this stage. The trigger return spring is just being compressed, much like a Gamo or Crosman trigger. Feel free to adjust this screw to whatever position you prefer. There’s no set rule except to not adjust the screw so far in that it eliminates the first stage. That will result in an unsafe rifle that may cause a bear-trap incident (where the piston releases without the trigger being pulled, allowing the barrel to snap shut unexpectedly).
Assembly of the trigger is fairly straightforward and is the reverse of disassembly. The use of a thick paste-type lubricant on the bearing surfaces of the parts will help decrease pull weight as well. I use Mobile One synthetic open gear lube, but most any paste-type lubricant should work. My Octane trigger group was bone-dry from the factory, which certainly contributed to the very stiff pull weight. Use the pictures to help install the parts and pins in their appropriate locations. The hemostats will come in handy again at this point. I installed washers to remove slop from my components but would not recommend it. The difference is hardly noticeable, and it makes assembly much more difficult.
The sum of these modifications should get the trigger-pull down to around 4 lbs. and make it much more smooth and consistent. After averaging the pull weight from 5 measurements, my trigger has settled down at a 3 lb., 2 oz. pull. It’s possible to go slightly lighter with some modifications of the secondary sear geometry; but because of the required precision and the possibility of dangerous results, I suggest stopping at this point. A 3.5-lb. trigger is quite good for a magnum springer and is ideal for accurate plinking and hunting. I know that my groups have improved dramatically, and I’m enjoying the fruits of my own labor when I feel a crisp trigger-break and see targets fall. I hope this helps you get the best from yourself and your rifle.
Please post any questions, comments or tips you have. I’m curious to see what you think.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll use the new Air Arms TX200 Mark III to test how a red dot sight works on a precision air rifle. This test was requested more than a year ago by blog reader Mannish in Mumbai.
Going into the test, I thought about the recent test of how high and low scope magnifications affect accuracy on the same air rifle. That test was suggested by blog reader duskwight from Moscow; and not only did I test the premise (in Part 11), he also tested it with a special guest blog. Both of us discovered that the magnification has no bearing on accuracy, and duskwight’s test was skewed toward favoring the lower-powered magnification!
I’m shooting the new TX200 Mark III with a Tasco Pro Point 30 red dot sight. The sight does not magnify the target at all; so, in essence, I’m shooting with open sights. I chose 25 yards indoors for the test, feeling that was enough range to show the trend. From the past testing of this rifle, I selected the H&N Baracuda Match pellet because I thought that it had demonstrated the best grouping at 25 yards. It was only after the test was completed that I discovered I’d selected the results of the other TX200 that’s my personal rifle. Oh, well! I do make mistakes from time to time.
Baracudas are still very accurate pellets in a TX200, and today’s test was not invalidated by their use. When you see the results I got, you’ll agree that this test is valid.
Dot sights in general
A dot sight is one that projects a red light in the center of the lens on the inside of the sight. No light leaves the sight, so this is not the same as a laser. Only the shooter sees the dot.
The dot is adjusted to shoot the pellet to the place you want it to go. The adjustments are the same as for a scope, but there’s no erector tube involved. Think of the dot as the intersection of the crosshairs. Canting the rifle is still possible and has the same affect. And, on a quality sight like this one, the brightness of the dot can be varied. That’s important because, as the dot grows brighter, it also appears to grow larger — covering more of the target. You want to cover as little of the target as possible, while still being able to clearly see the dot in the light you have. The Tasco Pro Point has a rheostat with 11 different brightness settings.
I adjusted the setting to No. 8, which gave me a dot I could see, yet was smaller than the black bull on the 10-meter pistol target I was using. I found that using the dot was the reverse of using a precision target aperture sight with an aperture front insert. There, you encircle the bull with the front aperture — with the dot you place the red dot inside the black bull, so the black encircles the red. Once I figured this out, I was satisfied that I could aim with precision.
The first shot was fired from 12 feet and landed at 6 o’clock, just below the bull. I was on paper, so it was safe to move back to 25 yards, where I fired a second shot. This one landed at about the same height as the first, but 2 inches to the right. I adjusted the sight up and to the left (the adjustments work just like the ones on a scope) and shot again. The third shot landed more to the left but was too high. The sight was adjusted again and the next shot nicked the 10-ring of the bull, so sight-in was completed.
I fired 9 more shots with this sight setting and never once looked through the spotting scope. The rifle was rested on a sandbag because we’ve learned the TX200 does very well that way. With each shot, I paid particular attention to centering the red dot inside the black bull. That was easy to do because I had the dot sized perfectly against the bull. But on shot 7, I noticed that the sandbag had moved forward by several inches, so the rifle wasn’t always resting at the same spot. I would correct that when I shot the second group.
When the group was finished I walked down to the trap to change targets. The first time I saw the group was when I entered my garage and saw one ragged hole! Holy cow! I did it! The dot sight is incredibly accurate!
While this group looks very good, it’s almost double the size of the 0.336-inch group I shot from my own rifle at 25 yards with this same pellet while using a scope. So, it does appear that using no magnification has opened the group just a little. The next group would tell for sure.
Back I went to 25 yards to fire a second group. This time, I paid attention to the exact spot that the rifle was rested on the bag, and I was also careful to center the dot every time. I really thought this group would be smaller than the first. When I walked down to see it, however, it was not only clearly larger — at 1.177 inches between centers — but it was also very horizontal. The first group had been vertical, if anything. I wondered what had happened.
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made this very horizontal 1.177-inch group at 25 yards. This is clearly not as good as the first group, plus what’s with that flier on the right? There were no pulled shots in this string!
The first group had satisfied me that the dot sight was accurate. Perhaps I was losing concentration by the second group, which really wasn’t that many shots. Only 24 shots in all had been fired. And why had the rifle thrown a shot wide to the right like that? It was almost as if the sight was loose or something.
That was when I remembered that I had done nothing about installing a vertical scope stop with this dot sight! I preach about scope mount slippage all the time to you readers, but apparently I can’t be bothered to do it right myself.
Sure enough, an examination of the mounts revealed they had slipped backwards on the rifle by 2 full inches! The Tasco mounts are 11mm; but being made for firearms, they have no provisions for a vertical scope stop, and so the inevitable had occurred. Naturally, I didn’t discover this until the range was completely knocked down and put away.
All that work for nothing because I didn’t use a scope stop. The rear mount is only on the rifle by about a quarter inch! No amount of clamping pressure, alone, can hold a scope mount or this dot sight mount from moving, unless you’re using BKL mounts.
I don’t think this is so bad. After all, the rifle and sight turned in a good performance, even when the mount was not locked down. Imagine what it might do if it was solid.
What do I do?
There’s only one thing to do — rerun this test. I will install a vertical scope stop next time, and I’ll show you how easy that is to do. Then, I’ll shoot the same pellets at the same distance, and we’ll see exactly what a red dot sight can do. Since this was supposed to be the final test of the new TX200 Mark III, it seems I have a reprieve. I can’t argue with that!