Posts Tagged ‘Spring-piston rifles’

Hakim air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Hakim
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz.

This report covers:

• You can never go home
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Firing cycle
• JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Eley Wasp pellets
• Evaluation so far
• Tech Force 90 dot sight

You can never go home
Today, I’ll shoot the Hakim trainer for accuracy. This is like returning home for me. Of course, you can never go home, again, because things have changed — and this Hakim is different from all the others I’ve owned and worked on. But just like your old neighborhood, there are always some things that never change. Things that remind you of the good things from the past. This Hakim has those, too.

You saw in the velocity testing that this isn’t a powerful air rifle. And it doesn’t have to be. That’s not its charm. Its charm comes from the rifle’s rugged build and heavy weight of wood and steel. And, in the case of this particular Hakim, the wood is a striking piece of walnut that shows lots of contrasting grain.

Hakim trainers are also quite accurate at short range. Let’s see if this one is, as well.

In the past, I’ve shot only 5-shot groups, but these days I shoot 10-shot groups. So, I expect to see the groups increase in size by about 40 percent. That’s what happens when you shoot those 5 additional shots, and only if you maintain correct shooting discipline.

RWS Superpoint pellets
As I explained in Part 2, I’ve found RWS Superpoint pellets to be the best in this rifle because their thin skirts flare out in the loading tap when hit with the piston’s air blast. At least, that’s always been my theory.

I had no idea where this rifle was sighted, so this was like shooting a new gun right out of the box. The only thing going for it is the excellent condition and the care with which the wood stock parts were fashioned. That tells me the former owner cared about his rifle — so I expected it to be pretty close to the mark from the start. And it was!

The first pellet struck the bullseye a little to the right of center and at about the right elevation at 10 meters. Because I know Hakims are accurate, I stopped looking and just fired the remaining 9 shots. That gave me 10 rounds in a group measuring 0.524 inches between centers. True to expectations, that’s about 30-40 percent larger than my 5-shot groups used to be. This Hakim is exactly like the rest of them!

Hakim Superpoint group
Yep, RWS Superpoints are as accurate as I remember in Hakims. These 10 shots measure 0.524 inches between centers, where 5 shots would probably be 0.35 inches.

Firing cycle
This rifle really buzzes when it fires. It distracts from an otherwise nice experience. I want to find out what’s causing the buzz and do something about it.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
Blog reader Kevin suggested I try JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets and Air Arms Falcons because their skirts are also thin. I don’t have any .22-caliber Falcons on hand, but I did try the JSBs next. Because the rifle was hitting slightly to the right, I adjusted the rear sight notch to the left just a bit.

Same drill this time. One shot to check where it went. This time it was just above the center of the bull, so I stopped looking through the spotting scope and fired the remaining 9 rounds. They gave me a nice 0.495-inch group that also had a bit of verticality to it.

Hakim JSB RS group 1-0 meters
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets went into 0.495 inches at 10 meters.

Because the shot group is now relatively centered in the black, I decided not to adjust the sights further. So the next 2 groups were made with this same sight setting. One last note. The RS pellets were so small that they fell to the bottom of the tap. No other pellet did that.

RWS Hobby pellets
The next pellet I tried was the lightweight RWS Hobby wadcutter. These have a thicker skirt than the first two pellets, but their light weight makes them a good match for this low-powered rifle.

Ten Hobbys made a very round 0.426-inch group. Because they’re wadcutters, they make a group appear larger.

Hakim RWS Hobby 10 meters
Ten RWS Hobbys made this round group, which measures 0.426 inches between centers.

Eley Wasp pellets
The last pellet I tried was the 14.5-grain 5.56mm Eley Wasp. It’s a larger pellet, yet it still enters the loading tap deep enough to be used in this rifle. The Wasp has a thick skirt, so I’m relying on the overall size of the pellet rather than any flaring of the skirt to seal the air. Wasps put 10 into 0.349 inches at 10 meters, which was the best group of the session!

Hakim Eley Wasps group 10 meters
Ten Eley Wasps gave the best group of the session, going into 0.349 inches between centers. This is a wonderful group of 10 shots. If it were just 5, it would be around a quarter-inch.

Eley Wasps are supposedly obsolete, but I laid in a large supply for my Webley Senior pistol many years ago and have enough to use in this Hakim, as well. [Editor's note: Eley Wasps are still being made and sold, but I've been told by at least one UK blog reader that the pellets available today are not of the same quality as those made 20 years ago when I bought mine. If this is incorrect, I apologize. I also see Eley Wasps available on eBay, but those appear to be vintage tins.]

Evaluation so far
This Hakim performs just like all the others, plus it looks much better. I discovered that it’s dirty inside when I adjusted the trigger, so I’ll be taking the rifle apart to clean it and also get rid of some of the vibration upon firing. Before I do that, though, I want to try one thing.

You asked me if this rifle can be scoped. I used to mount a Beeman SS2 scope on my Hakims, and it worked wonderfully. Well, that scope is still available, though no longer made by the same people — but it’s very pricey. I’ve decided to try something different.

TF 90 dot sight
Right now, Pyramyd Air is blowing out an older Tech Force 90 dot sight that I used to use on a lot of airguns years ago. They have a large number of them, and they’re priced to sell at just $19.99. I watched the development of this dot sight by Compasseco in the late 1990s, and I know that it’s extremely good. It was made in a plant that makes sights for the military. And, now, it’s available at a price that can’t be beat. So, I’ll mount one on the Hakim and try the rifle again at 10 meters — and perhaps at 25 yards, as well.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

• Rifle was set up
• The hold
• Accuracy
• A hunter’s rifle
• Comparison with the first rifle

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

This is accuracy day with the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 rifle — the one Crosman sent especially for this test. We’ve already seen how this second rifle exceeds the power of the first one, so today we’ll see what impact that has on accuracy. As with the first rifle, I’ll shoot 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets exclusively in this test.

Rifle was set up
When I unboxed the scope, I found the rings already installed in the correct location, meaning I could install them directly on the rifle. That proves this rifle has been tested and set up before I received it. The scope went on quickly, and I found it was very close to being sighted-in; but the inability to focus the target as close as 25 yards was a hinderance to aiming. I estimate my groups were a quarter-inch larger than they needed to be because I couldn’t see well enough to put the crosshairs on an exact spot. The scope arrived set at 4X, which indicates the rifle was tested at 10 meters or yards before it was sent. At 25 yards, I wanted to see the bull more clearly, so I adjusted it to 9X. But as I said, the focus was off because the scope is parallax-adjusted for a longer distance.

The hold
I refined the sight setting and proceeded to test the hold I thought would do best — based on results from the first rifle’s test. I also tried several other holds and hand placements, establishing one thing for certain. The NP2 wants to be held firmly. Do not use the artillery hold. Instead, I found it best to slide my off hand out to almost the end of the stock and grip the forearm firmly. I can feel the forearm screw holds on the tips of my thumb and fingers, so I know my hand is in the same place every time. Any hold that wasn’t firm allowed pellets to rise vertically. I fired probably 30 shots testing just the different holds and pressures.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Artillery hold group
When I used the classic artillery hold, this is what I got at 25 yards — every time! They’re all in line but off vertically. The NP2 wants to be held firmly.

Accuracy
I then shot three 10-shot groups using the factory scope. The best of them measures 1.104 inches between centers, and the worst measures 1.168 inches. I really tried to do well, but the blurriness of the target did cause my aim to be off.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 best factory scope group
The best 25-yard group using the factory scope and the best hold measures 1.104 inches between centers. No, I didn’t get the images mixed up. This group is slightly smaller than the one below.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 worst factory scope group
The worst group with the factory scope isn’t much different than the best. Ten Premiers went into 1.168 inches at 25 yards.

I felt the factory scope was hindering my best efforts, so I swapped it for an older CenterPoint 3-9X40 with an adjustable objective. This scope is one CenterPoint no longer carries. It’s a simple scope without an illuminated reticle; and other than the larger objective lens and the AO, it’s close to the scope that came with the rifle.

I allowed a day to pass between the first shooting session and the second because too much concentration makes me lose my edge. The next day, I shot another four 10-shot groups, plus some more sighters to get the scope shooting where I wanted. On this second day, my groups ranged from 0.895 inches between centers to 1.483 inches. I learned as I went, refining the hold that seems to be critical with the NP2. The worst group, for example, came when I experimented with the firmness of the offhand grip.

By the end of the session, I knew what this rifle wants — a firm hold of the off hand as far out on the forearm as you can comfortably hold and a firm hold of the pistol grip. Pull the butt into your shoulder firmly. This is not a death grip — just a firm hold, and it seems to be what the NP2 wants.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 best new scope group
The best group with the second scope measures 0.895 inches between centers at 25 yards. The second-best group was almost the same size as this.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 worst new scope group
The worst group with the second scope measures 1.483 inches between centers at 25 yards. I was experimenting with the firmness of my grasp during this group.

I’m not through with this rifle, yet. Each one of my second-session groups contains a large cluster of shots that are very close, then some strays that wander off — usually down, but not always. I think I’m close to understanding what this rifle wants, but I’m not there yet. I think it needs a very repeatable offhand grasping pressure. I’ll give it one more session and also shoot some different pellets next time — to see if I have been missing anything by shooting Crosman Premiers exclusively.

A hunter’s rifle
I have seen rifles like the NP2 before. They take some getting used to, but they reward the shooter with incredible accuracy once their secrets are learned. They’re rifles for hunters who use only a single rifle for all their needs. For the price this air rifle costs, I don’t think you can get one that’s any better.

Comparison with the first rifle
The first NP2 also took getting used to; but when I did, it gave me a best 25-yard group of 0.704 inches at 25 yards. So far, this rifle has given a best of 0.895 inches. Both rifles seem to want to do better, but I haven’t discovered quite how, just yet.

Hakim air rifle: Part 2

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

Happy birthday, America! The United States is celebrating it’s 238th anniversary of independence from England.

Part 1

Hakim
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz.

This report covers:

• Trigger adjustment
• Cocking effort
• Best pellet
• Velocity
• Performance?
• Oil
• The Arabic writing

Today, we’ll test the velocity of the Hakim underlever air rifle. You’ll remember that this rifle was made by German maker Anschütz, using a sporting air rifle they were making as their starting point. They’d copied the 1948 BSA Airsporter. I happened to obtain a more modern BSA Airsporter last week at a gun show, and a review of that will be coming up some time in the future. But, today, we’re looking at the Hakim.

Trigger adjustment
Before I get to the velocity, though, I noticed that the 2-stage trigger in my rifle was breaking at more than 10 lbs. That’s too heavy, and the Hakim trigger is adjustable for pull weight, but the action has to be removed from the stock to make the adjustment. So, the first thing I did was take the action out of the stock.

The Hakim doesn’t come out of its stock as handily as most spring rifles. A lot more than just the normal 3 stock screws have to be removed. If I decide to clean and tune this rifle, I’ll show the disassembly in a future report. For now, let me tell you that it takes about three times as long to get a Hakim action out of its stock.

Hakim trigger adjustment
This is the Hakim air rifle trigger. The gun is cocked in this photo. The one adjustment controls the amount of sear contact area (parts in contact inside the circle). The screw is turned in to reduce the contact area, and the nut locks it in place.

I adjusted the sear to about half the contact area that was there previously, then I cleaned the contact surfaces and lubed both surfaces with moly grease. After all of this, and after breaking in the adjustment and the new lube, the trigger now breaks at just under 5 lbs. While I can get it down even lower, this is a trigger that uses sear contact area, and I would rather err on the side of safety more than I would like a light pull.

Cocking effort
It’s harder to measure the cocking effort of an underlever air rifle than to measure the effort of a breakbarrel, but it’s still possible. My bathroom scale says this rifle cocks with 18 lbs. of effort, which is pretty easy. The cocking linkage is designed to maximize the force you apply. Of course, the size and weight of the rifle prevents it from being used by young people, but this light cocking does make it enjoyable to shoot.

Best pellet
There’s one pellet I like in a Hakim above all others, and that’s the RWS Superpoint because they have the thinnest skirts I can find in .22 caliber — and in a taploader, you want a thin skirt. The tap has to be large enough for all pellets to fall into its chamber; yet, when the gun fires, you want the pellet skirt to flare out and seal the air behind it. The Superpoint does this better than any pellet I’ve ever found. I won’t stop looking, but until I find something better, the RWS Superpoint is the one pellet of choice for all my Hakims.

Velocity
I had no idea how this particular rifle was going to perform, so this test was a diagnostic one for me. The first pellet I tried was the 5.6mm Eley Wasp that’s now obsolete. I bought several tins of them years ago before they stopped making them, so I can use them in my Webley Senior, whose bore is quite large. They weigh 14.5 grains and resemble a Benjamin High Compression pellet from the 1960s.

Eley Wasps averaged 454 f.p.s. and ranged from 450 up to 466 f.p.s. So, a 16 f.p.s. spread in total. At the average velocity, Wasps generate 6.64 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Next up were the RWS Superpoints. They also weigh 14.5 grains — the same as the Wasps — but their average velocity was 498 f.p.s., which is an increase of 47 f.p.s. over the Wasps. That’s due to the thin skirt being more effective in a taploader, I believe. The velocity ranged from 489 to 509 f.p.s., which is a 20 f.p.s. spread. At the average velocity, Superpoints developed 7.99 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby, which also performs well in Hakims. This 11.9-grain .22-caliber pellet averaged 554 f.p.s. in this rifle, with a range from 543 to 566 f.p.s. So the spread was 23 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 8.11 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Performance?
These velocities place this particular Hakim at the upper side of average for this model. I’ve see enough of them to know what they should do, and this one is okay — but not spectacular. I’m satisfied with it where it is.

When I disassembled the rifle to adjust the trigger, I noticed that it’s quite dirty inside. It could benefit from a thorough cleaning of all parts, inside and out. Therefore, I believe I’ll at least disassemble and clean the rifle for you, and, yes, I’ll take pictures.

I also noticed that the mainspring is very buzzy. That means there are either sloppy tolerances inside, or the mainspring may be canted. It’s probably sloppy tolerances, though, because the buzz is long and sustained. A canted spring will buzz sharply, but the buzz will also stop quick.

The buzz is disturbing, so I’ll look at ways of reducing it. If that slows down the rifle, I may need to tune it just a little to get it back to where it is now.

Oil
I oiled the rifle, to see what effect that might have. These taploaders do need more oil than conventional breakbarrels because the loading tap uses a film of oil to seal itself. To oil the rifle, I filled the tap with Crosman Pellgunoil and then cocked the rifle. The suction of air through the tap immediately sucked the oil into the compression chamber. After oiling, the velocity dropped by 100 f.p.s. for a couple shots, then climbed up to more than 50 f.p.s. above where it had been for around a dozen more shots. Then, it settled back to where it had been in the test. That tells me the tap was already oiled when I started the test. I was able to use Pellgunoil even though the Hakim does have a synthetic piston seal because the compression is so low.

The Arabic writing
I know that most of you have never see a Hakim up close, so I’m going to show you all the Arabic markings on the gun. There are no English characters anywhere. I don’t read Arabic, so I apologize if any of these characters are upside-down.

The rifle’s end cap has writing on both sides and on the top. Notice, also, that the cap has dovetail grooves. These can be used for short scopes, dot sights or peep sights.

Hakim characters left
The left side of the end cap.

Hakim characters top
The top of the end cap. If you mount anything to these dovetails, take the arch in the center into account.

Hakim characters right
The right side of the end cap.

Hakim characters by tap
Left side of the gun, just forward of the tap lever.

The rear sight is also graduated in Arabic numerals, which are unreadable — despite what they told us in school. That doesn’t really matter because you can guesstimate where to put the elevation slider from the results on the target, but it does illustrate that there isn’t a word of English anywhere on the airgun.

Evaluation so far
When I bought this rifle, I did so based on the stock. It’s well-made, beautiful and uncharacteristic of a standard Hakim stock, and free from cracks.

I tested the action at the time of purchase, which, with a Hakim, is possible without firing the rifle. I won’t bother to explain right now the how and why of that because I doubt many people will ever need to do it, but I did know from my test that this rifle was probably going to be average as far as performance goes. And it is.

Next, I think I’ll move on to accuracy testing at 10 meters with the installed sights. After that, I’ll decide where to go for the next report.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

• Here we go, again
• Out of the box
• Cocking
• Barrel bushings
• Scope base welds
• Pillar bedding!
• Good to go
• Crosman Premiers
• Beeman Kodiaks
• Crosman SSP
• Trigger
• Evaluation thus far
• Reminder from PyramydAir.com

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Here we go, again
Today, I’m starting our look at the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2. This rifle was sent from Crosman to Pyramyd Air especially for me to test, so we know that it’s the absolute best that they can do with the NP2 design. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that. I’m telling all the Crosman ankle-biters that I do acknowledge that this rifle has been thoroughly examined by Crosman before sending it to me — just to stop them from saying it. This is the same thing I recently did with the Daisy 880.

The first NP2 I tested came straight from the factory and was completely random. And you saw how well it turned out. You also saw that it needed a little time to break in before the cocking effort dropped to where we thought it should be. You also saw how I had to learn to hold the rifle for best accuracy. That shouldn’t happen with this one because I know how to hold it now.

I do plan on installing the scope that comes packed with the rifle for my test. We had one negative reader comment about me switching the scope on the other rifle, and doing it this way should end that complaint.

Out of the box
Several of you asked me to go over the second rifle thoroughly to see how it differs from the first rifle I tested. This rifle is also a .22-caliber model in a wood stock; so from the outside, it appears very much the same. But one curious thing I noted is that this rifle does have a wood screw holding the front of the triggerguard to the stock. You may remember I showed you the other rifle didn’t have the screw, even though the triggerguard has a hole for it.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 triggerguard
This photo shows both screws in the triggerguard.

I went over the entire rifle, looking for differences, but none came to light. I shined a tactical flashlight down the muzzle and noted that the baffles are not obstructing the muzzle. So, the rifle seems good to go.

Cocking
I cocked it, just to see how that felt, and I was transported back to the SHOT Show! This rifle cocks with between 25-27 lbs. of effort. I found the barrel pivot joint was too loose for the barrel to remain in place after the rifle has been cocked. You normally want it to stay in one place, but I say that advisedly, because this NP2 might teach us a thing of two. Crosman designed this rifle with a pivot bolt instead of just a plain pin, so the pivot joint can be tightened whenever necessary. I took the action out of the stock to do this, and that’s when I noticed a number of things.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 pivot bolt
The NP2 barrel pivot bolt is slotted so it can be tightened. That wasn’t necessary on the rifle I’m testing.

Barrel bushings
First, the barrel does indeed have a screw, but it was already tight on this gun. Then, I shined a flashlight through the action forks and the breech joint and noticed that there are probably bearings (what some would call shims) at the pivot joint. So, the barrel can be tight and yet still flop up and down after it’s cocked. We need to learn from this; because if this rifle is accurate, Crosman has done something new. Their barrel may be looser than other breakbarrels of the past and yet still be accurate.

Scope base welds
The welds on the scope base are much more visible on this second test rifle. I know that Crosman did take action on this issue right away after the first guns were launched.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 scope base welds
The scope base welds are much more visible on this new rifle. They’re the bright lines under each foot on the base.

Pillar bedding!
Second, I found a u-shaped piece of steel on the floor after removing the stock. When I examined the stock, I found out what it is — pillar bedding! We’ve recently discussed this on this blog, and Crosman has apparently gone and done it. The interesting thing is that they didn’t mention it in their advertising! How could they have missed announcing an important feature like this? Shooters are paying hundreds of dollars to have their rifles pillar bedded, and Crosman has gone and done it for free and kept it a secret!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 steel bushing
This u-shaped bushing or spacer serves as a pillar to separate the triggerguard screw from the action. This is pillar bedding on an airgun!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 steel bushing in stock
When the steel bushing is in the stock, it’s impossible to over-tighten the rear stock screw. This is how pillar bedding works. It keeps the wood from being crushed.

The 2 forward stock screw heads bear directly against the wood of the stock, so they’ll need washers to spread their load; but the NP2 is bedded better than 80 percent of the top-end spring rifles on the market.

Good to go
I assembled the rifle and found the barrel does not wobble side to side, yet it still flops after it’s cocked. This means the barrel pivot joint is adding very little resistance to the cocking effort. Now, it was time to start the velocity test.

Crosman Premiers
The first pellet up was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier that I believe will be one of the most accurate pellets for this rifle. Ten of them averaged 823 f.p.s. — a whopping 78 f.p.s. gain over the broken-in velocity of the first test rifle. And the cocking effort is still 5-7 lbs. lighter!

Best of all, Premiers varied by only 5 f.p.s. over the 10-shot spread — from 821 to 826 f.p.s. That’s phenomenal! It’s in PCP territory, and I’m talking about a regulated gun. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 21.51 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Beeman Kodiaks
Next, I tried 21.1-grain Beeman Kodiaks. As powerful as this rifle is, it should handle them okay. They averaged 646 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 19.46 foot-pounds. The spread for this heavyweight pellet was 12 f.p.s., ranging from 639 to 651 f.p.s.

You might wonder why I didn’t test the JSB Exact RS dome in this rifle since I did test it in the first rifle. The reason was the poor performance we saw in that first velocity test. I decided to switch to the Kodiaks rather than test a pellet that might not be suited to this powerplant.

Crosman SSP
The last pellet I tested was the 9.5-grain lead-free Crosman SSP pointed pellet. They averaged 1023 f.p.s. from the NP2, with a 55 f.p.s. spread that ranged from 992 f.p.s. to 1047 f.p.s. This is getting up close to the 1100 f.p.s. velocity that’s printed on the outside of the NP2 box. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 22.08 foot-pounds of energy.

Trigger
The trigger on this new test rifle feels very similar to the one I tested on the first rifle. The first stage is long and heavy, measuring 3 lbs., 6 oz. to stage 2. Stage 2 was breaking at over 6 lbs. out of the box, but I adjusted it to 4 lbs., 4 oz., which is exactly the same as the first trigger. This is a very good trigger for a sporting airgun — especially considering the price!

Evaluation thus far
This is more like the rifle I shot back in January. I think anyone would be happy with this one; and if they aren’t, then they should reconsider getting a gas-spring air rifle altogether. I sure hope this rifle is at least as accurate as the first one turned out to be.

Reminder from PyramydAir.com
Pyramyd Air’s marketing department wants to remind our blog readers that today (Mon. 6/30/14) is the last day you can enter their Son of a Gun Giveaway for the June prize, which is the Benjamin NP Limited rifle!

They’ve now started their 4th of July countdown of deals! There’s a special coupon that lets you combine a discount with their free shipping promotion and you’ll get double Bullseye Bucks. Plus, more deals are going to coming via email. If you’re not signed up to receive their email promos, go to Pyramyd Air’s home page and enter your email address in the space to the left of the word SUBSCRIBE.

Hakim air rifle: Part 1

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

Hakim
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz. This one is uncharacteristically beautiful.

This report covers:

• Hatsan 250XT TAC BOSS failed!
• History of the Hakim trainer
• Description of the rifle
• My own experience

Hatsan 250XT TAC BOSS failed
The Hatsan 250XT TAC-BOSS BB pistol failed to fire when I began the velocity test. The BBs refuse to leave the gun, and the trigger jams after one shot. I played with it for some time before pulling the plug. I’m sending this one back to Pyramyd Air, and I’ll ask for a replacement. I do plan on finishing this test when the new pistol arrives.

Hakim history
This failure catches me short today, so I’ll start reporting on the Hakim air rifle trainer made by Anschütz. The Hakim air rifle trainer is one of two trainers used by the Egyptian army to train soldiers to fire their 8mm Hakim battle rifle — a variation of the Swedish Ljungman semiautomatic rifle from World War II. The Egyptian Hakim was made after the war on the same machinery that made the Ljungman, and with the startup help of Swedish advisors. What’s known today as the “poor man’s Garand” and the “Egyptian Garand” lasted only for a few years before being replaced by more appropriate battle rifles. While it’s a fine design, the tolerances are so tight that it was ill-suited to field operations in a desert climate.

To train their soldiers with less expensive ammunition, the Egyptians had two different trainers. One was a semiautomatic .22 rimfire made for them by Beretta. It held 10 shots and looked similar to the 8mm Hakim rifle. The other was the air rifle we’ll start looking at today.

The Egyptians decided to let Anschütz turn their underlever sporting air rifle into a trainer for the Hakim. The result is a single-shot underlever spring rifle in .22 caliber. They contracted for them in 1954, and the model was 1955, I believe. I say “believe” because all the markings on the rifles are Arabic, and I cannot read them.

In the 1990s, the Egyptian government decided to divest themselves of their Hakim air rifle trainers, and many of them came to the United States. Navy Arms sold them for $65 each if you bought 4 at one time. I did and got two rifles that worked (after a fashion) right away and two that were rebuilt into working rifles. All these rifles were filled with sand (no kidding!) and several of them had numerous pellets and small nails embedded in their synthetic piston seals. [Note from Edith: I've written about this period of our lives before. It was as if the Exxon Valdez had somehow visited the Sahara desert and then docked in our house. Plus, the grease had an odor that permeated every room and slapped you in the face the minute you walked in the front door. Compared to that stench, the odor of Hoppes No. 9 smells like Chanel No. 5!]

Description of the rifle
The rifle is very large, at 44-3/4 inches overall and over 10 pounds in weight. The one I’m testing for you here weighs 10 lbs., 7 oz., but that will vary with the density of the wood — and there’s a LOT of wood on a Hakim! The length of pull is 13-1/4 inches, and the barrel is 19 inches in length.

Speaking of the wood, Edith always says that Hakims look like they’ve been drug behind a truck over a gravel road, then set on fire and put out with an axe — or something like that. [Note from Edith: And I was being kind when I said that. Tailings from a lumberyard look better!] I’ll admit that most of them don’t look very nice. That’s because they’re the worst kind of club guns — they’re army club guns! In other words, they never belonged to anyone, so everyone treated them poorly. We see the same thing in club-owned target rifles all the time.

The metal parts are Parkerized with a gray phosphate finish. Only the rear sight blade and the buttplate are blued steel. The rifle has sling swivels front and rear but no lug for mounting a bayonet. Other air rifle trainers such as the Czech VZ35 do mount bayonets, but I guess this one was getting too heavy as it was.

The front sight blade has a removable hood, and the rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. The curious triangular projection that stands up from the rear of the receiver has no known purpose but is supposed to simulate the triangular shape of the sliding bolt cover on a Hakim firearm. That bolt cover on the firearm has a wire loop that’s used to pull the cover back to retract the bolt when cocking the rifle.

Thingy
This thing on the Hakim air rifle has no known purpose beyond cosmetics. On the firearm, the triangular bolt cover has wire loops on either side to assist in cocking the bolt.

Front sight
This front sight blade has been flipped upside-down in its base and painted orange for better visibility. The hood snaps off.

The air rifle is an underlever that’s based on the BSA Airsporter of 1947. And you’re going to notice a more than passing resemblance to the Falke model 90 I showed you. When the underlever comes down to cock the rifle, it automatically rotates the loading tap to receive a pellet. The tap handle sticks up on the left side to alert the shooter to the tap’s status.

Hakim cocked
Pull the underlever down to cock the rifle. The loading tap opens automatically when this is done.

Tap closed
When the loading tap is closed, the lever lies against the left side of the stock.

Tao open
When the tap lever is up, the tap is open to accept a pellet. Load it nose first, then close the tap to align the chamber with the barrel and air transfer port.

One of the strange markings on Hakim trainers is the flaming skull located above the loading tap. I’ve been told that’s an insignia of a national guard or reserve-type unit in the Egyptian army, but I have no way of knowing if that’s correct. It’s found on all Hakim airgun trainers.

Death head
The flaming death head is a military insignia.

All Hakim air rifles are .22 caliber. They’ve been reported as .177 caliber in several places, but none have been found in that caliber to my knowledge. In all, Anschütz made and delivered 2800 air rifles to the buyer.

My own experience
I bought my first Hakim from a newspaper ad in the late 1980s — before I started writing about airguns. It was surprisingly accurate at 10 meters; so when I saw the Navy Arms ad in Shotgun News, I bought 4 more. Over the years, I have bought others to fix up and sell, and I guess I’ve owned about 15 of them by this time. [Note from Edith: I remember when Tom reluctantly sold his first Hakim. I think it was to a man in Arizona. The minute the deal was done, you could see seller's remorse on Tom's face. Some time after that, he was able to buy back the gun. You cannot imagine how happy he was when that Hakim returned to it's rightful home. I'm surprised he didn't ask me to throw a party. He said he'd never get rid of it, but I'm pretty sure he did.]

The rifle I have now is not only the nicest-looking Hakim trainer I’ve ever owned, it’s also one of the two nicest examples I have even seen, and that is out of about 200 rifles. The other nice one was refinished with a lustrous blue, and its military stock had no marks on it. My current rifle still has the military finish on all the metal parts, but the wood has been built from the ground up by a master craftsman. The dimensions seem to replicate the military wood stock exactly. It’s made from beautiful walnut with attractive grain, and whoever did the work got it right.

I bought this rifle at the Findlay show earlier this year. I found the beautiful stock to be irresistible, and I have absolutely no idea how the rifle performs. As of this moment, I’ve never shot it! That’s no great risk, though, because there isn’t much I can’t do to one of these.

The trigger is finely adjustable. What’s adjusted is the sear contact area, so you want to err on the side of safe operation when you adjust it. With a little care, you can get a wonderful 2-stage pull.

I’ve seen most Hakims shoot 14.5-grain RWS Superpoint pellets in the high 400s to the low 500s. After a rebuild, they’ll usually get as high as 550 f.p.s. I owned one that would do 650 f.p.s., but it wasn’t pleasant to shoot.

When I shot them years ago, I was shooting only 5-shot groups; and a good Hakim will put all 5 shots into a quarter-inch at 10 meters. I’ve owned a couple that were not as accurate for one reason or another, but the majority of them are quite accurate.

One nice thing about Hakims is how easy they are to cock. The underlever is quite long, and the cocking linkage is efficient; plus, the rifle’s mainspring is weak. In spite of the rifle’s weight, it can be shot comfortably all day long.

This is a very special airgun. It has the quality most people say they want but not the power that we’ve come to expect. It was purpose-built to be a target shooter to teach the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship. Ten years after this rifle was issued by the Egyptian army, the United States Air Force would buy hundreds of Crosman model 120 bolt-action rifles to do essentially the same thing. What do you think of these programs?

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

• Accuracy day…part 2
• Things that were done
• Sight-in
• Ten meters
• The hold
• 25 yards
• Velocity with Premiers
• Overall evaluation

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Accuracy day…part 2
Today, we return to the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 air rifle. I think I’ve solved all the mysteries and finally got the rifle to shoot the way it should. You be the judge.

Things that were done
Several things were done to make the rifle ready for today’s test. First, I cleaned the barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a bronze bore brush. To do that, I removed the barrel shroud and the baffles, so access to the barrel was easy. I cleaned from the breech. Since the NP2 has a gas spring, I could leave it cocked as long as I wanted without hurting the spring.

Next, I replaced the 3-9X32 CenterPoint scope that comes with the rifle for an older CenterPoint 3-12X40 scope that has an adjustable objective. Now, I was able to focus the scope on the target at 25 yards. CenterPoint no longer carries this scope that was made by Leapers, but it’s equivalent to this 3-12X40 UTG scope with AO, except that my scope doesn’t have an illuminated reticle.

I shimmed the replacement scope with one thin slice of plastic under the scope tube at the rear ring; because when I removed the factory scope, I noticed that it was adjusted toward the top of its range. I just wanted to make sure the reticle wasn’t floating in the replacement scope because the NP2 has a healthy jolt when it fires. No vibration, but there’s definite movement.

I tightened all the stock screws but found they were mostly tight already. That was when I noticed there’s no front triggerguard screw. The rear screw is the one that holds the action to the stock, and the front has no screw at all — yet there’s a hole in the guard for one. Some companies might be tempted to put a wood screw there to fool you, but that would just invite stripping the hole in the wood stock since the front screw is nearly always the one that gets tightened. Crosman made it foolproof.

06-25-14-02-Benjamin-Trail-Nitro-Piston-2-triggerguard
The front triggerguard screw doesn’t exist. The rear screw holds the action in the stock, and the front hole is blank.

Sight-in
I sighted-in at 12 feet and was on paper with the first shot. In all, I fired four shots to get where I wanted to be at 10 meters. I continue to shoot .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellets in this rifle for this whole test. Once I was sighted-in, I backed up to 10 meters and shot a 5-shot group.

Ten meters
I was still experimenting with holds at this point. I had already spent a whole day shooting the rifle with the factory scope and trying different holds (I didn’t tell you about that day or bother to report it), but a comment from a reader got me thinking. Reader Ben told me to hold the rifle more firmly and also to slide my off hand farther out under the forearm. He reminded me of what I knew but had temporarily forgotten — namely that gas spring guns need a different hold. So, I followed Ben’s suggestions, and they resulted in a 0.319-inch 5-shot group at 10 meters!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 10 meter group
Five Premiers at 10 meters went into 0.319 inches.

Okay, that’s just at 10 meters. I know a lot of you do shoot at that distance, and I also know that many people shoot 5-shot groups. This is what the NP2 can do at that distance with 5 Premier pellets.

But you really want to see what it can do at 25 yards. And you want to see 10-shot groups. I adjusted the scope reticle down for 25 yards and started shooting.

The hold
Before I continue, let me describe the hold I’m using today. It’s not an artillery hold. I’m grasping the pistol grip firmly, but not with a death grip. And my off hand is slid out far enough that it’s touching the sling swivel on the forearm. I don’t grasp the forearm tightly, but I do grasp it with my fingers. Having my hand out that far, the rifle doesn’t want to move left or right. So, when the off hand gets settled, the crosshairs stay on target as I relax.

Relaxation is very important with the NP2. Every time I became anxious about where the next shot was going, I threw it wide. But when I relaxed, the shot went to the aim point, as you’ll soon see.

25 yards
The first group of 10 went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group fired in the last test, which tells me that something I did helped out. Cleaning the barrel, tightening the screws, changing the scope or changing the way the rifle is held seems to have made the difference. But I thought the rifle could do even better.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 1
The first group of 10 Premiers from 25 yards went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group from the previous test!

The second group is larger than the first, but the 3 pellets that missed the main group were all from my tension. When I relaxed, all the pellets went into the central group. Ten shots went into 1.333 inches, but the central 7 are in 0.656 inches. I think they represent the true accuracy of the NP2. This is the importance of relaxing when shooting this particular air rifle.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 2
This group was the most revealing. When I shot totally relaxed, the pellets went to the central group. When I tensed up for any reason, they went wide. Ten shots in 1.333 inches and 7 in 0.656 inches. I believe the NP2 can shoot as well as the central group indicates.

But you’re skeptical, and I would be, too. The concentration needed for every shot (making certain I was relaxed) was tiring me, but this rifle deserved the best I could give, so I shot one more 10-shot group at 25 yards. This time, I relaxed for each shot — the way I would tell someone else to do. You know — do as I say! This time, 10 pellets went into 0.704 inches. This, I believe, represents the level of accuracy of which this particular Benjamin Trail NP2 is capable.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 3
This time, I concentrated on the hold and relaxed for every shot. Ten pellets went into 0.704 inches at 25 yards.

Velocity with Premiers
One last thing to do. I told you that the cocking effort had dropped to 32 lbs. after the last accuracy report. With all the shooting I’ve done the rifle now has over 150 shots on the powerplant. I tested it again today, and it still cocks right at 32 lbs. The last velocity test had Premier pellets averaging 793 f.p.s. with a 40 f.p.s. spread. This time 10 Premiers averaged 745 f.p.s. and the spread was only 8 f.p.s.!

I know the gun shoots slower now; but given the wide variation before, I think it’s now settled into what it’s going to do. At 745 f.p.s., the Premier cranks out 17.63 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Overall evaluation
I think Crosman has made a nice new breakbarrel rifle with the NP2. It doesn’t vibrate, it cocks easier than other gas-spring guns in its power range, the trigger is crisp, the report is quiet and the rifle is accurate. For $250, this is about as nice a spring gun as you can find.

Yes, the power is not at the level Crosman advertises; and yes, the gun does kick — but it still gives you a lot of value for the money spent. The bad press at launch time is going to keep some shooters from giving the NP2 a try. That’s too bad because this is a rifle many of them would like.

I’ve tested this rifle openly and allowed you to see exactly what happened, as it happened. Crosman has sent another NP2 for me to test and I plan on testing that one for you as well. So, it ain’t over yet.

El Gamo 300: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

El Gamo 300
El Gamo 300 was a low-priced quality breakbarrel from the 1960s and ’70s.

Before I begin, blog reader HiveSeeker has asked me for some photography tips. Not that I’m a great picture-taker, but I do have some tips on how to photograph airguns. For starters, he wondered about photographing dark guns like his Winchester MP4. In the past, I’ve done several reports on airgun photography, but we may have enough new readers that it would be of interest, again. What do you think?

Okay, let’s get started. Today, we’re looking at the accuracy of the El Gamo 300.

This report covers:

• Poor man’s R7
• Trigger
• Firing behavior
• Accuracy
• First pellet
• Summary

A poor man’s R7
The El Gamo 300 was supposed to be my “poor man’s Beeman R7.” It was supposed to have the power and accuracy of the R7 (which is a modified HW 30S) at a cost that was far less. At the time, when the 300 was selling (the late 1970s), the R7 was sold with open sights, so the two airguns were comparable. The HW 30S still does has open sights today; so in that respect, the comparison can still be made.

As it turned out, the 300 is about 100 f.p.s. slower than an R7. The cocking is easier, but this rifle isn’t in the same power class, so any comparison suffers.

Adjustable trigger
Alas, the 300′s trigger is much simpler and only minimally adjustable, while the R7/30S both have the famous Rekord, which is one of the finest sporting airgun triggers of all time. I did try to adjust it, but the biggest thing that seemed to change was the length of the first-stage travel. The pull did drop, but only by a little. When the first-stage travel was shortened it did increase the length and creep of stage two; so I guess you could say it does adjust the pull to that extent, but the results were not very encouraging. It’s an acceptable trigger for an inexpensive spring rifle, but far below the Rekord for performance and adjustability.

One reason I wanted to get a 300 is because I believed it had the same action and trigger of the El Gamo 68 XP. That rifle’s trigger is very adjustable; and, while it gets unreliable when you take it down too light, it’s very crisp and positive when adjusted to a normal sporting level (3-5 lb. pull weight). The 300 trigger can be adjusted even lighter with safety, but it still retains some creep in stage two.

Firing behavior
The 300 is a buzzy gun. I could no doubt fix it with a little tuning, but right now the buzz is its most annoying feature. When this gun was new in the 1970s, nearly every air rifle felt the same and there was no basis for comparison. However, in the past 20 years, both airgun design and tuning tricks have improved so much that the vintage guns now suffer in comparison.

Accuracy
For today’s test, I shot this rifle at 10 meters from a rested position. I used the traditional artillery hold with the rifle rested on my off hand, back by the triggerguard. As you’ll recall from my earlier reports, I felt the rear sight notch was too narrow for the front blade. Well, when the target was illuminated by a 500-watt lamp, it was easy to see the whole front sight and some light on either side. That made aiming precise when I didn’t believe it could be.

The rifle cocked easily; and when the barrel closed, the detent locked it tight. One of our readers mentioned that breakbarrels with opposing chisels at the breech seem to lock up tighter and with more authority than do those whose chisel detent rides over a round pin. I have to mention that the 300 has the double chisel arrangement and the reader is right. When this barrel closes, it sounds like a bank vault.

El Gamo 300 chisel breech
Looking down at the open breech, we see the chisel lock (right) that engages the spring-loaded chisel detent on the baseblock. This arrangement makes the breech lock up more positively than if the chisel detent had to go over a round crosspin. That hole above the chisel lock is the air transfer port.

First pellet
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. I used a 6 o’clock hold and squeezed off the first shot, which surprised me when I saw the pellet had hit the 10-ring almost in the center. After that, I just shot the next 9 rounds without looking again. When I looked after all 10 shots had been fired, I saw a nice round 0.588-inch group in the center of the bull. That was a good start!

El Gamo 300 Hobby target
Not only is this 0.588-inch group of 10 Hobbys nice and round, it’s also centered in the bull. That makes it appear even better than it is. This is the best group the El Gamo 300 shot at 10 meters.

Next, I shot 10 Air Arms Falcons. The first shot hit the 9 ring, and I didn’t have to look again until it was all over. Ten shots landed in 0.629 inches, but 9 of them were in 0.41 inches. While this group is slightly larger than the Hobbys, I would say the Falcons are probably more accurate, just based on those 9 tight shots.

El Gamo 300 Falcon target
This group of 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets looks amazing, though at 0.629 inches between centers it’s larger than the Hobby group. Without that one pellet at the bottom, there are 9 in 0.41 inches.

The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. I saw the first shot go into the 8-ring so I stopped looking until it was over. This time, though, the pellets spread out more, and the group measures 0.771 inches between centers. From the open appearance of this group, I can tell that Premier lites are not the best pellet for the El Gamo 300.

El Gamo 300 Premier lite target
Crosman Premier lites scattered more than the other two pellets. Ten made this 0.771-inch group. The group looks larger than it really is because the pellet on the right tore the target wider than where it penetrated.

Summary
The El Gamo 300 is not a poor man’s R7. It is what it is — a nice, inexpensive spring rifle that offers a lot of value for the price. Even today, when the used guns sell for $50-100, they’re still a bargain. But they’re not in the same class as a CZ Slavia 630/631, which really is a poor man’s R7.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to test several air rifles in this same vintage class over the past few years. Some of them, like the Diana 25 with the ball-bearing sear, are superlative airguns that withstand the test of time. Their very design makes them perform at a higher level than most guns. Others, such as the Falke model 70, promise the moon but fail to deliver. This El Gamo 300 is closer to the latter guns, although its low price does make it an ideal candidate for home gunsmithing for the careful hobbyist.

No doubt the 300 can be modified and tuned to be a wonderful air rifle; and when it is, it’ll have the accuracy needed to carry it off. But there are other airguns that are inherently nice just as they come from the factory. A 300 is probably the cheaper way to go, but expect to spend some time and sweat equity to turn it into what you really want.

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