Posts Tagged ‘Spring-piston rifles’
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
This report covers:
• What we’ve learned so far
• Mounting the Tasco Pro-Point dot sight
• 10-meter accuracy RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Match Diabolo pellets
• H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
• RWS R 10 Pistol pellets
• The Meteor is good
What we’ve learned so far
I began the review of the BSA Super Meteor in October 2013 — almost a year ago. I acquired the rifle at the Roanoke airgun show (and, no, I don’t know whether or not it will be held again this year) from Don Raitzer, because I’d always wanted to review the rifle. I commented that Meteors had always looked like cheap airguns to me; but after researching them, I discovered they went through the transition period when BSA went from being a world leader in airguns, through several attempts to make their guns less expensive to build and eventually to the point where the company was bought by Gamo.
So, Meteors exist in numerous variations, with Marks I and II being considered the best, and the cheapening started with the Mark III. My Super Meteor is a Mark IV and well down the road from the top quality they enjoyed at their height. But it still does show a lot of innovation in the design. I showed you all of that in the early parts of this report, as I rebuilt the powerplant and crowned the muzzle.
I got the velocity back up to standards, but for some reason the accuracy was never there. I lamented over this in the last few reviews, but it wasn’t until the final part — Part 8 – that I discovered what might have been the problem. And then I guess I must have burned out, because I didn’t return to the rifle until today.
It was Monday’s look at the BSA Scorpion that caused me to look back at the reviews of the Meteor. That was where I discovered that I’d intended to try the rifle with a scope or dot sight but never did. Until today.
What I discovered is that the Meteor’s rear sight is loose and tends to move when the rifle’s shot. I wondered if an optical sight that stayed put might correct any sighting problems and let the rifle reach its true potential. Today, you’ll see what that is, and you can use the links to the earlier parts, above, to see the contrast between the accuracy with open sights and the dot sight I chose for today’s test.
Mounting the Tasco Pro Point dot sight
I mounted a 30mm Tasco Pro Point red dot sight that I’ve used in other tests. Mine is vintage and not at all like today’s Tasco Pro Point. I would have used the Tech Force 90 dot sight, but that one’s being used on another rifle we’ll get to very soon.
I mounted a vintage Tasco Pro Point dot sight on the BSA Meteor.
Once mounted, the dot sight was very easy to sight-in for 10 meters. I saw tighter groupings at my 12-foot sight-in distance and began to hope I’d solved the problem. Let’s now see how well the rifle did.
10-meter accuracy RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby that had done best in the previous tests with open sights. Right away, there was a dramatic difference. Ten Hobbys now went into 1.033 inches, where they’d only previously made a best group that measured 1.361 inches with open sights. But inside the big group, 8 shots were in a tight cluster measuring 0.437 inches! This is what I was expecting from the Meteor all along!
JSB Match Diabolo pellets
Because no other pellet had done as well as Hobbys in previous testing, I decided to change my choices and concentrate on several target pellets. Next up was JSB Match Diabolo wadcutters. Ten of them went into 0.681 inches — with no fliers. Now we’re getting some results!
H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. This one proved to be the most accurate of this test. Ten went into a 10-meter group that measures 0.456 inches between centers.
RWS R 10 Pistol pellets
The last pellet I tested was the RWS R 10 Pistol pellet. This is another lightweight wadcutter that’s often the most accurate in some airguns. Before shooting this pellet, I adjusted the dot sight 5 clicks to the right and 5 clicks down. Unlike scopes, dot sights don’t seem to have the same problem with stiction (the reticle not moving after adjustment until the gun is fired several times). The dot moves with the adjustments and doesn’t have to be bumped or vibrated into its new position by firing the gun. (If you’d like to read more about stiction, go to this blog on scope basics and scroll down to the Stiction subhead.)
Ten R 10s then went into 0.588 inches at 10 meters. This is the second-best group of this test, and it underscores the Meteor’s accuracy potential very well.
The Meteor is good
When I began this series, I’d hoped to discover why so many shooters have a love affair with the Meteor. For many years I had thought it was a cheap-looking little rifle, but that was before I found out about all the changes over the years of production. Apparently, there are Meteors — and then there are Meteors; and it really makes a difference which variation you have. Also, in this instance, I started with what was essentially a junker.
It was an uphill battle because I had to rebuild my rifle, which included several major repairs like spot-welding the piston body and crowning the recessed muzzle (see Part 4). I have to thank my buddy Otho for the hard work he put into this project. He’s the one who spot-welded the piston body and made the tool bit I used to crown the recessed muzzle (Part 8).
The action forks that were very loose when I got the rifle, and I had to tighten. This involved putting the forks into a vise and tightening the jaws to squeeze the forks together (Part 4). Assembly after this operation was a chore, but I got it done. This is where a pivot bolt comes in very handy, but the Meteor doesn’t have one — just a plain pin.
I’d hoped the Meteor might perform like a Diana 27, but it doesn’t. The Meteor is its own air rifle — very abrupt during the firing cycle — while the Diana is smooth. And the trigger, while adjustable, can never be as light and crisp as the Diana’s ball-bearing sear. But don’t hold that against the rifle. The Meteor is its own airgun, not a copy of anything else.
And it can shoot — as today’s test demonstrates. I thought I might have to choke the barrel to get accuracy from the rifle, but it turned out the sights were the problem all along.
Doing this series has been educational and exasperating at times, but I learned a lot and got inspiration for many more blogs about vintage airguns.
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Doing something different
• Tightened the barrel joint
• Sight-in and the first group with Hobby pellets
• Air Arms Falcon pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• H&N Baracuda Match pellets
• JSB Exact Express pellets
• Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
• Alternate hold
I started this test in July but have laid off for several weeks. Thanks for bearing with me. Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Ruger Airhawk combo at 10 meters.
I’m looking at this combo because a number of readers say they really like the rifle. Of course, it’s been compared to an RWS Diana 34, but I wouldn’t go that far. Yes, there are similarities between the two rifles, but they’re not identical. And each has its own unique firing characteristics – and we’ll all learn a lot about those as I fire the rifle for accuracy using the open sights.
If this rifle proves to be accurate, it’ll be a best buy, given the price of just $130. I know my test rifle is shooting slower than the advertised velocity, but I plan on testing the velocity, again, after the accuracy test, so don’t give up just yet.
Doing something different
I’m changing the way I test air rifles in an attempt to make some progress faster than in the past. I’ll shoot just 5 shots at 10 meters off a rest with each pellet and then look at the group. If the group shows promise, I will come back to the pellet. If not, I’ll move on. That way, I’ll be able to test more pellets in the same time.
I’ll also test at least 2 different variations of the artillery hold — the 2 that have proven the most successful over the years. If one seems better than the other, I’ll continue to use that hold for all the other tests.
Tightened the barrel joint
I noticed last time that the barrel joint wasn’t tight. This barrel has a bolt that can be tightened, so I removed the action from the stock and tightened the barrel pivot bolt. When I was doing that, I noticed that all of them were loose. The inletting of the action in the stock was very tight — fully the equal of anything made in Europe. That gives me hope this rifle will be accurate.
Sight-in and the first group with Hobby pellets
I sighted-in the gun and shot the first group with RWS Hobby pellets. Sight-in amounted to just one shot that told me the rifle was on target from the factory.
I’m showing the sight-in shot along with the first group for two reasons. First, it shows how low the first shot was, yet I knew I’d be okay because I was shooting from just 12 feet. I knew the group would hit the paper higher. Second, it shows how much the shots climbed on target when I shot from 10 meters. This lesson demonstrates that you cannot sight-in a gun for anything under 10 yards and expect it to be on at any other distance. Even 10 meters is too close to sight-in a rifle if you expect to ever hit things at 15 yards and beyond. The sights are too close to the target, and the angular separation from the bore is too great when you’re this close.
I held the rifle on the flat of my off hand with the triggerguard touching the heel of that hand. The group of 5 Hobbys measures 0.678 inches between centers. This is too large for a 10-meter group, so Hobbys are out of consideration.
After this group, I adjusted the rear sight 7 clicks to the left but didn’t touch the elevation. The sight remained in that setting for the rest of this test.
Air Arms Falcon pellets
Next, I tried Air Arms Falcon pellets. Falcons hit the target well-centered but much lower than the Hobbys. Five pellets went into a group that measures 0.493 inches between centers. While that isn’t as good as I’d like to see at 10 meters, it does show some promise. I’ll probably shoot Falcons from 25 yards, as well.
RWS Superdome pellets
Next, I tried RWS Superdomes. They gave me a puzzling result. Four of the 5 pellets went into 0.506 inches, but the final shot opened the group to 0.906 inches. That might have been an aiming error; but at 10 meters, I usually don’t make mistakes that large. I might try these again, but not if I find 2 other pellets that are better.
H&N Baracuda Match pellets
Next, I shot 5 H&N Baracuda Match pellets. Sometimes these pellets that seem too heavy for a gun will surprise you with their accuracy, although I have to say that happens more with heavy .22-caliber pellets than with .177s. It certainly didn’t happen this time. Five Baracuda Match went into 1.372 inches. Although 3 pellets are close, I don’t think this pellet is right for this rifle.
JSB Exact Express pellets
Five JSB Exact Express pellets were next. I have to confess that, while I like JSB pellets a lot, I’ve never had any luck with the Express pellet in either caliber. Today was no different. Five went into a 1.466-inch group that proved to be the largest of the test. Definitely out of the running for this rifle!
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
I felt I had to try the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet that’s often the best in some rifles. And I got an interesting result. The first pellet hit the target high and near the center of the bull. Then the next 4 dropped over one inch and grouped in 0.411 inches.
This group is small enough to interest me, so I shot a second group of 10 pellets. They landed in 0.746 inches, which is okay, but not the best. However, if you look at the group, you can see that 6 of the 10 pellets went into a much tighter group that’s a single hole measuring 0.357 inches between centers. I know that aiming errors can put me off by as much as these 4 outlying pellets at 10 meters, so this group gives me confidence that the Airhawk can really shoot.
I then tried the same Premier lite pellets with my off hand slid forward so I could feel the beginning of the cocking slot against my palm. Now that I know this is a good pellet, I can try different things like this. Five pellets went into 0.852 inches, which isn’t good — but look where 3 of them went! That hole is a group measuring 0.069 inches! I don’t think that was due to the different hold, but I do think it tells me this rifle can really shoot and that the Premier lite pellet is right for this gun.
Using an alternate artillery hold, 5 Premier lites went into 0.852 inches. While that isn’t so good, 3 of those pellets went into 0.069 inches. I think the rifle can shoot, and this pellet is the right one – but the first hold is best.
Edith spotted the fact that I may have skewed the test results by not seasoning the barrel for each pellet. I guess that’s the down side of shooting so many 5-shot groups. It does bring up a good point. I think that when I move back to 25 yards, I’ll season the barrel with 20 shots per pellet before shooting the first 10-shot group.
She also suggested that I do a seasoned barrel vs. unseasoned barrel accuracy test. There are enough of you who believe in the seasoning process, so that makes such a test worth the effort.
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is the start of a guest blog from airgunner and blog reader Fred_BR from Brazil. He’s going to tell us about a breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle he recently acquired. It’s a civilian copy of a scarce military trainer.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, Fred.
This report covers:
• FAL in the Brazilian army
• FAC: Fuzil de Ar Comprimido
• My Model Sport 82
Rossi Sport 82
Today, I’ll show you an old rifle that I believe most of you have never seen: the Brazilian-made Rossi Model Sport 82. It is a civilian version of a military training rifle used by the Brazilian army to train recruits before letting them handle the firearm – the FN-FAL 7.62 NATO battle rifle.
FAL in the Brazilian army
In 1964, the Brazilian army adopted the FN FAL 7.62X51mm (.308 Winchester) battle rifle as a replacement for the old bolt-action Mauser rifles then in use. IMBEL, the Brazilian Government arsenal, acquired the rights to produce a local version of the firearm, eventually making 250,000 of them according to some sources. The FAL proved to be a very sound choice, and to this day it’s the preferred rifle of many military and police elite units. For recruits, however, the FAL is not exactly easy to master, especially for inexperienced hands.
The Brazilian army approached Amadeo Rossi S/A and asked for a version of their standard air rifle to mimic the FN FAL. Rossi, a Brazilian manufacturer well known to American shooters for its line of budget-priced revolvers, is also a traditional maker of popular air rifles, mostly inexpensive and very simple in design — but well built.
The response from Rossi was a breakbarrel spring-piston rifle with a redesigned stock that has a pistol grip, a false magazine, and front and rear metallic sights that copy those of the FAL. Lead inserts would bring the weight close to that of the standard FAL rifle. Even the carry handle was included. Caliber was .177, the only airgun caliber then available in Brazil.
The Sport 82 is a civilian version of the military FAC, or compressed air rifle, used by the Brazilian army for training.
[Editor's note: Many countries do not permit former military weapons or even airguns to be sold to civilians. They feel it promotes theft, which it certainly does. Some countries don't even allow civilians to use firearms chambered for military cartridges for the same reason.]
FAC: Fuzil de Ar Comprimido
The resulting gun would be adopted as the “FAC – Fuzil de Ar Comprimido,” Portuguese for “compressed air rifle,” a nickname sufficiently close to “FAL” to satisfy the officers. The rifle would be the initial introduction of recruits to shooting, before being allowed to use the firearm.
Rossi would sell this rifle to civilians with some modifications. Some say they were obliged to do so because of military restrictions, others say they modified the rifle to become more acceptable to young shooters — then the only market for airguns in Brazil. Rossi may have realized that no kid in their early teens would buy such a heavy rifle and made it lighter and without the false magazine and carry handle, but keeping the FAL-style sights. This model would be released to the shooting public in Brazil as the Model Sport 82.
My Model Sport 82
I searched for an example of this rifle after B.B.’s post on the Egyptian Hakim airgun. It didn’t take me long to find one. The gun is a spring-piston, breakbarrel rifle with 13.60 inches of barrel length, 38 inches overall, weighs 5 lb., 4 oz., and has a 15-inch length of pull. The stock is made of black-painted wood, and features a pistol grip and general style that basically copies the grip and stock of a standard fixed-stock FAL, although some models were sold with the natural color of wood. Later models would be equipped with barrel-mounted open sights, but my rifle has the FAL-style peep sights regulated for height and windage via two screws.
The front sight is a simple post protected by two ears like the FAL and located closer to the breech than on most airguns
The rear sight is an aperture adjusted for height and windage by two screws. It’s mounted on top of a wood extension to fit the FAL-sized stock.
The spring-piston tube assembly is very short, almost junior-sized. To meet the FAL-lookalike specs required by the army, Rossi added an extension behind the rear portion of the spring tube, apparently also made of wood, just to keep the action from being too short in the long stock made for this model. Keep in mind, fellow readers, that airguns made back then in Brazil were mostly considered youth rifles not intended for adults at all, so they were mostly compact and lightweight models. The gun has no safety of any kind, so it relies on good handling to avoid accidental discharges.
The breakbarrel action is very smooth and easy to cock, as a good youth models needs to be. The short-stroke spring-piston rifle can push pellets in the 450 f.p.s. to 480 f.p.s. range. This is sufficient for most applications of such a training airgun. That’s the good news.
Now for the bad news: The trigger is horrendously heavy. I couldn’t even measure the trigger weight. I can only tell you that this gun sports the heaviest trigger I’ve ever encountered on any rifle — airgun or firearm. The thing is so difficult to pull that, after a few shots, I was feeling pain in my trigger finger. It definitely took the fun out of the equation pretty quickly. As the gun has no safety, I can only think this was Rossi’s way of preventing an accidental discharge by making the trigger so heavy that kids wouldn’t pull it unintentionally. Well, I almost could not pull that thing even on purpose!
I would love to show you lots of pictures of very tight groups made with the Rossi 82, but the best I could do was a mere 1.25 inches at 10 meters with this gun. I blame the trigger for that, and I plan to disassemble the gun to check the exact condition of its trigger and sear. Maybe some careful trigger work will improve it.
Except for the trigger, the Sport 82 is a lightweight, easy-to-cock carbine with a distinguished look that sets it apart from other air rifles. It has a history of service to my country, training civilians and military recruits, and doing its job gallantly. To this day, the Brazilian army still introduces safe gun handling to trainees using the FAC.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Ruger Air Hawk velocity retest
• RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Exact Heavy pellets
• RWS HyperMAX pellets
• New Arlington field target club
• Beautiful course!
Ruger Air Hawk combo
Ruger Air Hawk velocity retest
I hadn’t planned to do this test, but the velocity numbers in the previous blog post were so far off expectations that I felt compelled to try it, again. I was curious about the poor velocity performance of the Ruger Air Hawk combo. Someone suggested the breech seal might be too low and others agreed, so I shimmed the seal. It appears to be ever so slight higher now, but the velocity is definitely higher.
The shim raised the breech seal slightly.
RWS Hobby pellets
In the first test, RWS Hobby pellets settled into a range of 750 to 810 f.p.s. I didn’t give averages because the gun seemed to be detonating too much.
This time, the range went from 1014 to 1088 f.p.s. Two shots registered 649 and 761 f.p.s., respectively. My gut feeling is that the velocity has increased, but the rifle’s still detonating too much to know anything for sure.
JSB Exact Heavy pellets
The second pellet was the JSB Exact Heavy that weighs 10.34 grains. In the last test, these ranged between 534 and 757 f.p.s. In this test they ranged between 572 and 893 f.p.s., with all but two shots above 623 f.p.s. There’s a definite velocity increase this time; but, again, I can’t be precise.
RWS HyperMAX pellets
The last pellet tested was the 5.2-grain RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellets. Previously, these ranged between 817 and 970 f.p.s. In this test, they ranged from 906 to 1203, with only one not going above 1180 f.p.s.
I think it’s clear that the breech seal was too low during the first test. Raising it with a shim did boost velocity, though the gun is still burning too much oil to tell for sure how much velocity has been gained. When it stabilizes, we’ll have a better idea – but it does seem the gun is on the numbers now.
My next test will be for accuracy at 10 meters, using the open sights.
And, now, for something completely different!
New Arlington field target club
We have a new field target club in North Central Texas. The Arlington Sportsman’s Club has started a field target club, which held their second trial match last Saturday on 10 of the club’s 35 3D archery lanes. These lanes are carved into a wooded section of the club’s property and are ideal for field target matches.
This is the second FT match I’ve attended in the past few years, and I have to comment that the sport is now more popular than ever! When I competed in the 1990s, field target was run by a rigid set of rules that put older and less mobile shooters at a disadvantage. And there were some clubs that enforced offhand-only shooting to the extent that the sport just wasn’t attractive to many shooters.
Today, I see relaxed rules that allow seating and bipods for the rifles, changing everything! The shooter doesn’t have to get into a seated position on the ground and hold the rifle so nothing touches the ground. Now, it’s fun! And I can tell that the shooters are 10-20 years older than they were when I competed in the 1990s. That still puts them at my age — only, now, they’re having fun.
The Arlington match director, Chris Simmons, showed me around the course, which was the finest FT course I’ve ever visited. Of course, having those lanes premade by the 3D archers made all the difference.
The match director’s briefing started early, so the match started right on time.
Chris allowed one point for every target that fell, which is the common way of scoring a match. The Pecan Plantation club I visited some months back allowed 2 points for a target fall and one point for just hitting the target. Either way works fine, but seeing the target fall is what the sport’s all about.
Chris left all the kill-zone reducers off for this match, so every kill zone was 1.5 inches. In the future, that will change. I know these targets seemed easier to kill, but when they have half-inch kill zones and are 25 yards distant, that will change.
The kill-zone reducers were left off all targets for this match.
The match used archery facilities like this tower, which was designated for offhand shots, only. We never had features like this when I was a match director!
You might think that because this is a startup club all the shooters were duffers, but that was not the case. I saw many shooters who obviously knew exactly what they were doing. One man was shooting a Whiscombe JW 70, which is rare at any FT match. And another shot an Air Arms Pro-Sport he received only the night before the match. He got zeroed before the match started and did very well shooting from the offhand position.
Here is a Whiscombe JW 70! How many of these have you seen?
The shooters from the Dallas FT club weren’t able to make this match because they were working on a new venue for their club on the same day. But they’ll attend matches in the future. And I think I may blow the dead bees out of my Air Arms TX200 and shoot a few matches, myself. It’s been over 15 years since I competed; but the way things are run today, this looks like fun!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Ruger Air Hawk combo
This report covers:
• Why the Ruger Air Hawk?
• Impressions of the rifle
• Before the test
• RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain pellets
• Firing behavior
• What to do now?
I’m testing the Ruger Air Hawk combo today, and I’m also starting something new. I’m combining Parts 1 and 2 into a single report. Part 1 has always been a general description of the item being tested, and Part 2 has been the velocity test. But you can follow the links embedded in the report to the Pyramyd Air product page and read the specs, so I don’t have to dwell on them very long. Just give you my impressions and then check velocity, cocking effort and trigger pull. If this works, I will do it this way from now on if the gun isn’t overly complex and if there’s nothing unique about it. If not, I’ll return to the conventional format. For that reason, I’m calling this both Parts 1 and 2.
Why the Ruger Air Hawk?
Most of you are aware that Ruger doesn’t make airguns. They have them made by others to their specifications. In today’s case, the Air Hawk is made in China. It’s imported and distributed by Umarex USA.
I chose to review the Air Hawk because many readers have asked me repeatedly to do so. At the time of this report, there are 114 customer reviews on the rifle and it’s rating is about 4.5 stars out of 5. That bodes well. I won’t read those reviews before I examine the rifle, just to keep my opinions honest.
The Air Hawk is a straightforward breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. The one I’m testing is in .177 caliber, the only caliber they come in. Mine is serial number 00474874. It has a conventional coiled steel mainspring, a wood stock and blued steel finish. The fiberoptic sights are constructed mostly of plastic, though the rear sight does have some metal parts. And the rear sight is adjustable in both directions.
It has been said that this is a copy of the Diana 34. I do see the resemblance, but there are also differences. The trigger isn’t the same, nor is the cocking linkage.
So here we have a very traditional breakbarrel rifle. What’s the attraction? The price, I suppose. This combo that also includes a 4X32 scope retails for $130. What makes this Ruger Air Hawk such a bargain? One word: Power!
The Air Hawk is a 1,000 f.p.s. rifle — according to its manual, or a 1,200 f.p.s. gun if you believe what’s written on the box. One velocity is probably derived with lightweight lead pellets and the other with lead-free pellets. We shall see in a moment. The point is that velocity sells airguns these days. New shooters need to experience all they can with high-velocity spring guns before they’re willing to explore the rest of what’s available. And, with 4.5 stars from 114 customers, it sounds like the Air Hawk really delivers the goods. Again, we shall see.
Impressions of the rifle
The Air Hawk is heavier than I was expecting. It weighs a tad over 8 lbs. and feels stout in my hands. The stock proportions are generous without being oversized. This is a large air rifle. They rate the cocking effort at 30 lbs., and the test rifle cocks at 30 lbs. on the nose. I did have to try it several times before getting it down to 30 lbs., so there’s initial stiffness that has to be worn away; but that’s part of every break-in.
The finish of the wood and metal parts is smooth and even. The metal parts are matte black and the wood has a shine. The contouring of the wood is well done, although there’s no checkering. The comb is Monte Carlo-shaped, and there’s no raised cheekpiece. Since the automatic safety is located at the rear of the spring tube, this is a 100 percent ambidextrous rifle.
The cocking linkage is two-piece and articulated in the middle. The rear piece slides on a channel cut in the wood stock. Unlike many Chinese spring rifles, this Air Hawk sits centered perfectly in the stock, with no canting of the action! That’s a plus because it means there’s no rubbing of the cocking linkage parts against the wood.
The barrel detent is a ball bearing, similar to a Diana 34. I do have to slap the barrel slightly to break it open, so the ball is under a lot of spring tension. The base block that holds the barrel is held to the action forks by a bolt — meaning that barrel tension can be adjusted. That’s a huge plus in any breakbarrel.
The trigger blade is metal and very straight. I like the angle of the blade, as it suits my hand quite well. The trigger-pull adjusts for the length of the first stage, only. A screw in front of the trigger blade controls this.
My overall impression is that this is a well-designed air rifle. More importantly, someone is in the Chinese plant assuring adherence to quality standards.
Okay, you can get the rest of the specifications from the product listing I’ve linked to above. Now, I’m going to test the velocity and trigger-pull.
Before the test
I shot the rifle before the test and noted that the first 5 or 6 shots were detonations (loud bangs, like gunshots) with oil droplets coming out of the muzzle. So, the rifle is lubricated heavily at the factory. I shot the rifle several more times until the detonations seemed to end.
RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet tested was the RWS Hobby. I use the Hobby as my reality check with some airguns, because not only is it a pure lead pellet — it’s also often very accurate. I’m going to show the entire string here, for reasons I will explain.
Pretty obvious what’s happening. The gun was detonating on the first 2 shots, then it sort of settled down for the next 10. I’m not going to give any averages here because I don’t believe the rifle has completely settled down yet.
People always ask me how I break in new airguns. Well, that depends on the gun. I thought I would show you with this one.
JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain pellets
Next up was the JSB Exact Heavy 10.34 grains pellet. If Hobbys are going in the 700s, then this pellet is too heavy for the powerplant; but when a gun is detonating, a heavier pellet will help burn off the excess oil. The rifle was still spewing out a cloud of oil mist with each shot.
As you can see, the gun is still burning off excess oil. That’s where those faster shots come from.
Another way to burn excess oil is to shoot a very light pellet. It makes the gun detonate, which is probably needed here. So, I switched to RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellets.
The rifle is still burning oil, but it’s calmed down a lot by this point. I returned to Hobbys to see where things were.
Okay, at this point I know the rifle is still detonating a bit and dieseling on every shot — as it’s supposed to. All spring guns that shoot over 600 f.p.s. diesel with each shot, according to the testing that was done in the 1970s by the Cardew father/son team.
The trigger adjusts for stage-one length of pull, only. This one feels good where it is, so I’m leaving it there. The trigger releases at 3 lbs., 6 oz. Stage 2 is fairly crisp. I think this will be an easy rifle to shoot.
The Air Hawk I’m testing has a quick shot cycle with some recoil and some vibration. But during the few shots of this test, the rifle became easier to cock and the firing cycle smoothed out. So, I think this is a rifle that will improve with time. Also, I now note that the barrel no longer remains where it’s put after being cocked. So, the pivot joint needs to be tightened. I’ll do that before the next test, which will be an accuracy test using the open sights that come on the rifle.
What to do now?
This is where a lot of newer airgunners are stumped. If they have a chronograph, they may feel their rifle is broken or that they’ll hurt it by shooting it more. But the 98 percent of shooters who don’t own a chronograph will just keep right on shooting their airgun, which is what I plan to do.
Next comes the accuracy test. I’ll test the rifle at both 10 meters and 25 yards using the open sights, then I’ll mount the scope that came with it and test it again.
After I finish the accuracy testing, I’ll return and look at the velocity once more. I’m guessing the rifle will have settled down by then.