Posts Tagged ‘Spring-piston rifles’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
The last report on this BSA Super Meteor was on October 15. That’s how long it’s been since we saw this gun in print. But in the background, I’ve been doing lots of things that I’ll share with you today.
The last time we looked at this rifle, I was taking it apart and getting a lesson on how it was built and what was wrong with it. To summarize for you, this BSA Meteor is made from folded metal, in the same way Daisy BB guns are made. And the piston head was attached to the piston by means of an E-type circlip that was incapable of standing up to the stress. I can tell that by the damage that was done when that clip let go — but more because the Brits have invented a much better solution for fixing this gun today, when it does break down — and all of them are going to break!
I sent my order to T.R. Robb in the UK for a replacement piston head, o-rings and spacers. The problem is that when I sent in that order I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the same order button also got a piston head for a BSA Scorpion pistol, which is larger than the Meteor head. Well, guess which one Mr. Lysdexic ordered?
That’s right, I ordered the Scorpion piston head. And a couple days later, when I realized what I’d done and contacted T.R. Robb, they had already shipped the order. But to their credit, they sent a second piston head — this one was for a Scorpion, too. That’s right! They sent me 2 Scorpion piston heads and no Meteor head! But I’ll give them credit for trying to help me, for being very generous and refusing my offer to pay for the second head, and for being very prompt in shipping both heads. I had them in less than 10 days.
So, blog reader David Enoch — I now have a spare BSA Scorpion piston head that I believe you said you needed. The price will be right, too. You’ll pay what I paid, which was nothing.
Lots to see here. The replacement piston head is the shiny one on the left, the darker original is on the right. Obviously, the replacement part is larger and has to be cut down to fit. The blue spacer and 2 o-rings are just some of the soft parts that came in the kit. There were a total of 4 o-rings of different sizes and 2 more spacers of varying thicknesses. They allow you to set the power of your airgun, and they also allow for differences in the tolerances of different guns.
When I saw how large the piston head was, I knew it wouldn’t fit. I asked my friend Otho to cut it down for me on his lathe. He also had to cut the o-ring channel deeper at the same time.
Silly me — I thought that would solve everything. So, Otho took the head and had it back to me in a week. Then, I assembled it to the end of the piston and tried to insert the piston back into the spring tube. But it wouldn’t fit! I’d taken it out several weeks earlier, and now it wouldn’t fit back inside! It was like that pair of blue jeans that used to fit, before they suddenly and quite mysteriously shrank. I hate it when that happens — especially to jeans I’ve worn for years!
I took a more critical look at both the spring tube and the piston. Glory be — they’re both made of folded metal like a Red Ryder! Except that Red Ryder spring tubes are generally round, while both of these pieces had variable shapes, with a tendency toward the oval.
The tail end of the piston. Here you clearly see that it’s folded metal, tack-welded at each end.
At least that’s the theory! Here you see the weld at the piston head end has broken. Wonder why the piston is no longer round?
And, on the other side of the piston, opposite the broken weld, the solid metal has also cracked! Here you can see the nut that now holds the piston head to the piston body. It’s not about to break off like the circlip did!
Looking at just the condition of the piston gives you an idea of the shape this rifle is in. I don’t think the design of the rifle caused all this damage. I think people continued to try to cock and fire it after the piston head separated from the piston, and they hammered it into the mess you see here.
I examined the interior of the spring tube very critically at this point and found a lot of metal galling (shiny areas that indicate the scraping of metal against metal without lubrication). There was also a fair bit of surface rust. I also found that some of the folded metal edges of the spring tube that hold the trigger parts were bent into the interior of the spring tube and were blocking the passage of the piston. I fixed those with a Dremel tool, but the inside of the tube was too deep to reach.
I showed the spring tube and piston to Otho, who agreed with me as to the extent of the damage. He felt he might be able to clean out the tube with a tool that holds strips of abrasive paper and is spun in an electric drill. I don’t own that tool, so I was only too happy to let him have a go at it. He also said he could tack-weld and refinish the piston where it was separating.
So, Otho came to the rescue once more. And he was true to his word, because a week later I got back the tube and piston, ready for assembly. But that wasn’t the end of the rifle’s problems!
Otho welded the broken piston and dressed it round again.
Otho also welded the back side of the piston where it was cracked.
Loose barrel pivot
I had discovered that the barrel wobbled from side to side when I first got the rifle. And a little research online told me this is a common problem with Meteors from the 1970s. Apparently, when the forearm stock screws are tightened, the shape of the stock allows them to pull apart the action forks that hold the barrel breech. It’s a design flaw of the rifle, and the solution is to not over-tighten those screws. But how to fix it — since the barrel pivot is a pin, rather than a bolt? Well, this is something I know how to do.
I chucked the forks in the padded jaws of my bench vice and closed the jaws on the forks. When there was some inward tension on them, I hit the outside vice jaw with a 2-lb. ball-peen hammer, which sent a shock wave into the metal of the action forks and realigned their crystalline structure. Or at least that looks cool when I write it. I haven’t got a clue what really happens! All I know for sure is that when you do this, the metal takes a set in the new position, and now the action forks are about 5 thousandths of an inch smaller then the breechblock of the barrel that has to fit between them.
Finally, all the faults had been corrected, as far as I knew. The piston now slides into the spring tube with only a little friction, not unlike a Weihrauch piston in a Weihrauch gun. It was time to assemble the rifle!
Otho and I both think whoever designed this Super Meteor Mark IV was a genius at eliminating cost and making one thing do many jobs. The way this air rifle is designed should be a study in an engineering course, but the students would first have to know how others had done the same things with other spring-piston powerplants. At every turn, you can see the embodiment of the Spartan design.
And the parts that need to be hard are hard! I mean glass-hard! There’s no wear on any of the trigger parts, or on the piston, where it’s held by the sear. The boys at BSA knew what they were doing.
Since there had been so much metal galling in the spring tube, I first lubricated it with Moly Paste before any parts went back in. The molybdenum disulphide particles will bond with the metal surfaces and will not wash out over time. I applied this paste (which is a thick grease) with a swab made from a long thin dowel rod covered with a paper towel on one end.
This simple swab can be used to clean the inside of spring tubes/compression chambers, as well as to lubricate them.
After the inside of the spring/compression tube was lubricated, I also lubricated the outside of the piston head and piston tail with the same moly paste. I’d like to say a word about the piston head now. The kit of parts I was sent had 3 spacers of differing thicknesses. Any of them will work, but each gives you a piston head of a different length when it ‘s fastened to the piston body.
The way the Meteor is designed, adjusting the length of the piston head controls the power of the rifle. A shorter piston head will give a longer piston stroke and therefore greater power. I don’t want power. I want a smooth rifle that’s easy to cock and is also easy to shoot. So I went with a thicker spacer on the head.
Now, I lubricated both the piston head and the tail with moly. The center of the piston body can be left dry because it’s narrower than the ends and will never touch the inside of the spring tube.
The piston head is lubed with moly paste. No precision is required for this application because this stuff spreads as the gun is cocked and fired. The other end of the piston got the same treatment before it was slid back into the spring tube.
Once the piston was in the tube, I coated the mainspring with Beeman Spring Gel and slid it into place inside the piston. Don’t look for that product anywhere — it’s obsolete. It was a viscous silicone (Beeman only says it’s a synthetic in their catalog; but given where it’s going, I’m pretty sure it’s silicone) grease that dampened vibration without slowing the gun much, if any. So, pretty much any viscous silicone with the consistency of toothpaste should suffice. Or, you could do it the old-school way and just use a lithium-based grease.
The powerplant went together the same way it came apart; but the barrel, which was the next item, was harder to install because the action forks were now smaller, thanks to my repair. Nevertheless, the barrel did go into the action forks of the spring tube (I “buttoned” it in using the baseblock to spread the forks slightly), with the cocking link locked inside the piston and lots of moly grease on all metal surfaces that touch.
When it came time to close the barrel, I got a small surprise. It seems the spring-loaded chisel detent (the chisel-looking thingie that holds the barrel shut when the gun fires) was sticking out so far that the barrel wouldn’t close! Examination revealed that the detent is held in the baseblock by the pivot pin that passes through. How in the heck was I going to do that?
Well, if you think like a redneck cheapskate, which I am trained to do, you insert the pivot pin partway, lever the chisel detent back as far as it will go and then tap the pivot pin home. I could have closed my eyes for this maneuver, it went so smoothly. Obviously, I’d discovered something that the original 28-year-old BSA assembler, Trevor, could do 175 times in an 8-hour shift back in 1978.
From there, the only big task was to get the mainspring back inside the spring tube all the way. It only stuck out the end of the tube less than an inch, but it also had to go another full inch into the tube, where it would be held by a crosspin that’s profiled on one side to capture the base of the spring guide. It’s easier to just show you.
This is the side of the assembly pin that fits inside the base of the mainspring guide and holds it inside the rifle.
This 58-cent tool was made from a 4-inch plastic sprinkler pipe in about 20 minutes. With the action in the mainspring compressor, it pushes the washer at the base of the mainspring, while allowing the crosspin to be inserted through its slot. It isn’t beautiful, but it worked both times I used it and looks like it will hold up for dozens more jobs like this.
And the pin is back in place. The contours on the other side of the pin have meshed with the base of the spring guide.
I showed you these parts and the trigger parts in the earlier reports, namely in Parts 2 and 3. So I’m covering ground that I’ve already explained. When I took the rifle apart back in October, I didn’t have to use a mainspring compressor; but to get the mainspring back in place and insert the crosspin, I did. And it was easy.
And the remainder of the airgun went together exactly as it should. I have a theory. Whenever something goes together easily, it means I’ve left out something. I’m in my wetsuit but have forgotten to put on my briefs! I remember learning how to disassemble and assemble the M1 Garand rifle. I thought I could never learn, but a few weeks later I was stripping it like a pro. That’s the way BSA spring rifles are, I guess. You’d like them to come apart in 30 seconds without hand tools, but they don’t. However, once you’ve been down the path a few times, I’m sure the job seems simple.
This is the part I dreaded. Sure the parts were back together, but who was to say they were where they should be? Only cocking and firing the gun would tell me that. So I did. And it did! Hurrah!
The only task left to do is to clean the barrel. I had close to 2 months to do that while it was off the rifle; but to tell the truth, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get the gun back to functioning again. No sense doing a great job on a barrel I’ll never use. But now the gun is working, so the next report can be about the velocity.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Air Arms TX200 Mark III at 50 yards. I can tell you that I learned a lot from this test. But that will all be summarized as we go. Let’s get started!
I shot the new TX directly off the same sandbag that was used at 25 yards. As you remember, I showed (after much coaxing from you readers!) that the TX shoots as well or better when rested directly on sandbags as it does with an artillery hold. The bag was crossways to the rifle, so the contact with the stock was minimized.
The day was perfect for the test. Not a breath of wind the entire time I was on the line!
The rifle is mounted with the AirForce 4-16X50 scope, which was selected so I could conduct another test for reader Duskwight after the regular test was completed. This scope is clear and sharp; and at 50 yards, I was able to bisect the small bullseyes with the reticle.
The rifle was still zeroed for 25 yards, so it had to be adjusted for 50 yards before anything else could happen. The first shot landed 3-1/4 inches low and 1-1/2 inches to the left. It then took another 2 shots before I was reasonable on the target. Then, I fired the first group with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. Ten landed in a group measuring 1.562 inches. It’s a fairly round group, but not as small as I would like from this rifle. So, I switched pellets.
JSB Exact Monsters
Next I tried some JSB Exact Monsters, which weigh 13.4 grains in .177 caliber. They went all over the place. When I went dowrange to retrieve the target, I saw that they were tumbling or yawing. They must be too heavy for the velocity the TX is able to generate.
Crosman Premier heavy
The third pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier heavy. I meant to bring Crosman Premier lites, but I grabbed the wrong box when loading up for the range. Fortunately, the heavy pellet was wonderful! Ten of them gave me a group that measured 0.658 inches between centers — or about as good as a top-flight PCP can do at the same distance! This is phenomenal accuracy for any air rifle at 50 yards!
First lesson learned
The new TX200 Mark III is every bit as accurate as my TX that’s well broken-in. No accuracy has been lost over the years, and the rifle can shoot this well right out of the box!
With lesson one under my belt, I adjusted the scope to lower the point of impact and moved to the next bull. The first shot landed where the last group was, then the pellets moved to the new sight adjustment.
Second lesson learned
Some scopes have stiction. After adjusting them, it’s best to shoot a couple shots to vibrate the reticle to its new location. I knew that, but made the mistake anyway. So, I’ve included the first shot, along with the group, to show you what it looks like. If this group had been as small as the one before, that first shot would really stand out. But I lost my concentration on this one and wasn’t holding the rifle as softly as I might have. This group of 10 measures 1.435 inches between centers, which isn’t that far from the first group of H&N Baracudas!
The second group of Premier heavies opened to 1.435 inches. That’s more than double the size of the first group! Top hole to the left of the pellet was the first shot, which I disregarded, after the scope was adjusted.
Third lesson learned
While a rifle may be capable of shooting 10-shot 50-yard groups smaller than one inch, it may not do it every time! That small group may represent what the rifle is capable of, but not what it will always do.
Duskwight, our blog reader from Moscow, asked me to test the difference between a rifle shot with a low-power scope and the same rifle shot with a high-power scope. In other words, does magnification improve a rifle’s ability to group?
Well, common sense tells us that it does. Right? I mean, surely, if you’re able to parse the target to a finer degree, you must be able to group your shots closer together. Right? That’s what this test will determine.
That’s why I used a 4-16x scope on this rifle. I’d been shooting with 16x to this point, so now I dialed the power back to 4x and shot another group.
Wow! At 4x, the intersection of the crosshairs almost completely covers the small bullseye at 50 yards. As I shoot, I’m almost certain how this test is going to turn out. And it does. Ten shots on 4x with the same Premier heavy pellets landed in 2.208 inches. Looks like I was right about what low magnification would do.
The third group of Premier heavies — shot with the scope set to 4x — was 2.208 inches between centers at 50 yards. That’s quite a difference from the previous group, even though that group was already admittedly large.
But something nagged me about this group. I knew in my heart that I’d not given the rifle my best. I knew this group was going to be bigger than the last one while I was shooting it, so I was even sloppier with my hold.
It probably sounds like I need medication to suppress my dual personalities while at the range, but I assure you I’m not talking to myself — at least not loud enough for others to hear. What I’m doing is a little soul searching while I’m still out at the range and have the time to do something about it.
I adjusted the scope back to 16x and shot another 50-yard group. This time, I did everything the way I should have. The hold was completely relaxed. I fully expected to be rewarded with another of those sub-inch groups, but that didn’t happen. This time, I shot a 10-shot group measuring 1.935 inches between centers. Oh, well! I was probably tiring out from all the concentration.
Fourth lesson learned
Sometimes, you just can’t will the results to happen the way you would like. I put my whole heart into this group, and this is what I got. Maybe that’s what it feels like to be 66, dried-out and ready for the old-folks home!
Fifth lesson learned
I called that first great group of Premiers a screamer. Now you see why that is.
Nevertheless, I owed it to Duskwight to try the rifle on low scope magnification one more time, and this time to do my very best. So I did. This time, 10 pellets went into a group that measures 1.481 inches between centers. That’s right, it’s SMALLER than the group shot on 16 power! I noticed that the bull was just visible behind the crosshairs; and if I really tried, I could hold on the target in exactly the same way every time. Apparently, I did, because this group fired on 4x is smaller than the previous group that was fired on 16x.
Sixth lesson learned
Although it isn’t conclusive, it looks like you can shoot just as accurately on low scope magnification as you can on high magnification if you take the time to do things right.
Seventh lesson learned
Looking at both groups fired on 16x and both groups fired on 4x, it sure looks like the point of impact never changed! Some of you have asked about that in the past. The design of the scope determines whether the impact point will move when the scope’s power is changed, but these days a lot of variable scopes stay right where they were when the power’s adjusted.
Eighth lesson learned
Of the five groups fired with Premier heavy pellets on this day, only one is smaller than one inch. And it’s significantly smaller! When you see those great groups in the future, you must ask yourselves what the rest of the groups look like.
Ninth lesson learned
I may be old and dried-out, but I can still shoot — a little. I get tired as the shot count increases, so that needs to be factored in to my tests from now on.
I’m very pleased with what this new TX200 Mark III has done so far. I think the rumors that the TX quality may have slipped are just that — rumors! Individual guns may have problems; but overall, the TX200 is one fine air rifle. Next, I plan on mounting a red dot sight and testing it for accuracy, again, to see what the differences are.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from reader /Dave. It’s his first report of a beautiful Walther LG55 he recently acquired.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, /Dave.
This Walther LG55 is another used gun that I bought from a reputable seller on the Yellow Classifieds. B.B. asked me to share my impressions with you after I received it. For a lot of people here, this well be a repeat of how to evaluate a used gun. Most people here know, or at least have an idea, of what appeals to them before buying a used gun. Some don’t like to risk money on a used gun, which I completely understand, having been burned once or twice. For those of you that do take risks, here ya go!
This curly walnut stock caught my eye right away!
After my new gun arrives, I generally give it a once-over, looking for any obvious faults and to find out if I need to do any serious work on it. I was happy to get this rifle after delays by the shipping company. The wait, which is normally pretty hard, was extended by more than another week while the shipper decided where it was really supposed to go. When it finally arrived, I was like a kid at Christmas trying to figure out the fastest way to get my new of gun out of the box and out of the paper, tape and bubble wrap that were quite generously used.
After freeing up the rifle and then unwrapping the rear target site, which had been removed and wrapped separately to prevent damage, I quickly mounted the site and brought it into the bright kitchen light to show off my treasured wood to my wife. She said that it looks alive, like a fish swimming! A great improvement over, “I’m not interested in that stuff”! So, I took off down the stairs with a big grin on my face to my little 9.5-yard range to try it out.
The curl goes all the way through the stock.
Giving the gun a quick once-over to make sure all was in place and not loose, I broke it open and cocked it. Man — this thing is easy to cock! A six-year-old could shoot it if he could hold it up. My old bathroom scale says it takes 18 lbs. to cock, and it weighs about 8 lbs. Even at 8 lbs., it should be an all-day shooter for me!
I took a couple of shots at about 5 feet and then 15 feet to see if it would stay on the paper and to check function. “Check function”… uh-huh! That’s the adult way of saying, “I really can’t wait long enough to go over this thing in detail. I gotta shoot it NOW!” Yes, just under the surface, I’m still just a 10-year-old boy!
What you don’t see in the pictures is that the stock is scratched up. The barrel and compression tube are about a quarter to a third speckled with surface rust that’s not pitted. It’s more like the bluing wear from many hands, rather than neglect. Even with these faults, I’m inclined to just treat the whole gun with oil but not refinish it. Most of the scratches in the stock would vanish with a light sanding, but there are a few that would alter the stock’s original lines if removed. Since I’m not really a big fan of wood filler and refinishing over scratches doesn’t look right, I’ll leave it alone. I kind of like this gun the way it looks, anyway. It speaks of a long life of use and enjoyment that would be lost if I dolled it up too much.
One of the worst dents on the bottom edge of the stock. Some of the wood fibers are cut, so I don’t think this will steam out cleanly without leaving a hash mark. There are a couple more on the forearm that are as deep.
First results from my Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph with RWS Hobby pellets weighing 7.0 grains was around 412 f.p.s. Not that encouraging, considering a quick online search finds that LG55 rifles should shoot around 550-575 f.p.s. at sea level. I’m shooting at just over a mile high in elevation, so I don’t expect to ever make that 575 f.p.s. mark, but somewhere around 525 f.p.s. would leave me tickled pink! But, the rifle is shooting very consistent within a few f.p.s. around 412, so I added a few drops of heavy silicone dashpot oil to the chamber and let it sit a few minutes.
I checked the breach seal while adding the oil, and it looks like it’s in good shape, smooth and standing just a little above the surrounding metal. Tissue paper laid over the breach while firing confirms a good seal. If the tissue doesn’t move, there isn’t enough air leaking through to matter. No oil spray on the tissue is another good indication the breech is tight.
The oil in the chamber brought the velocity up to around 468 +/- 2 f.p.s. right away with no excessive smoke due to the low power of this target gun. That number goes up more after the gun has set for awhile, then drops back off while shooting. That’s still encouraging. Along with the smooth, un-twangy solid thwack when the rifle fires and no grinding with a positive click of the sear falling into place when it’s cocked, that tells me the gun probably just needs a new piston seal. The piston seal on this gun is synthetic, so the oil is just a temporary fix/diagnostic tool. It will need to be replaced to regain its velocity potential.
The difference on the target between 500 f.p.s. of the LG55 and 750 f.p.s. from an HW57. A faster pellet cuts cleaner and is much easier to score or measure when your target isn’t exactly square to the shooting lane. A slower pellet has more tear-out.
While shooting through the chronograph, I noticed that I’d run out of adjustment on the sight and my groups were still hitting an inch high and to the left. Oh no! Shipping damage? Bent sight? Major tweaking might be needed! Ok, calm down and take a good look at things. First, I sight along the compression tube and barrel under a light to see if it’s out of line. Looks pretty straight there. Check the sights. Tight and straight. Front sight is straight and the target insert is correctly seated in its notch, so on to the rear. The click adjustments run full travel on the rear peep sight, and it doesn’t appear to be bent. The sight base seems to be clamping the dovetails correctly. Hmmmm. Ok, loosen the knurled knob and take off the sight to examine it closely. All appears good, so I centered the adjustments, and the peep is right in the middle. No problem here. More thinking….
I decided to remount the rear site and noticed that there are markings and grooves on top of the rail. I lined up the front of the sight with one of those marks. Ah-ha! The knurled nut now travels much closer to the base when I tighten it. The nut has a collar that extends into one of those grooves, locking the sight in place! After tightening it up, I decided to take a shot at a new target. Nine ring! Another shot. Another nine, breaking the ten ring! Great, that was the problem!
In my over-anxiousness to shoot, I’d missed seeing the grooves while mounting the sight and it wasn’t seated properly on the rail. This is what threw off my point of impact. No barrel tweaking or major work other than a seal replacement is required! I’ve found a source for the seal and some other parts for this old gun at JG Airguns. I may make a seal mod with some Teflon round stock and a quad-seal o-ring (like I did with my TF99) if I can’t get this one soon enough.
Notice the horizontal lines on top of the compression tube, in between the dovetails. The front of the sight must be aligned with one of these in order for the locking collar (beneath the knurled nut) to slide in and out and secure the sight from sliding.
The trigger has a really long first stage, and there’s even a little slop in the trigger blade before it starts. I need to do some more research online for adjustment procedures to see if that can be reduced. If not, I’ll leave it as is and just get used to it because it has a light first stage (almost a take-up) followed by a nice, clean, very light and predictable break. It makes the Rekord trigger on my HW57 feel heavy. Definitely not a modern lawyer/liability trigger here!
LG55 trigger adjustment screws.
Walther has diagrams of the LG51′s trigger on their website, but I don’t think it’s the same as the LG55′s trigger. The LG55 trigger is shaped different and has more adjustment screws. I’ll need to fiddle around with them to see which one does what, unless someone can point me to the info I need. However, an online search has brought me these drawings that give me a better idea of what’s what.
I’m pretty sure I can figure out which screw does what. The only thing that confuses me here is the far left collar (number 50 in the picture on the right), which has click stops when you adjust it…much like a scope turret. Thanks to the kind souls who posted these pictures on the Yellow Forum a while back!
I was curious about when this rifle was made but couldn’t find any definitive information from Walther online. From what I could find in the forums from others who’ve paid Walther for their serial number lookups (and doing a little SWAG), S/N 086xxx tells me this rifle is 50+ years old. So, it was built back in the days when people took a little more time and pride in their work. A time before time studies and efficiency experts set unrealistic bars for production people to meet. But, I digress. I just like old guns!
I would normally run an accuracy test at this point, but I really need to first fix the compression seal to get the velocity back and stabilized. The accuracy and velocity test will be in Part 2. So far, even though I need to do a little work on it, I’m completely happy with this purchase.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Just a word
Befoere I get started with today’s report, I want to say something about what happened this weekend. Friday’s airsoft report got a lot of comments. Among them are several questions about the technology of the guns. And some admissions that people didn’t think much of airsoft before they tried it, then they found their opinions changed drastically. That also happened to me, so I can relate to it.
But all you who don’t care for the subject don’t need to worry. This isn’t going to become an airsoft blog. I will continue to report on it at a low level, but I know this is an airgun blog, and that’s not going to change. I want to assure the readers for whom the subject of airsoft is not welcome that we are still going to talk about pellet guns and BBs guns for the most part. I will write a few reports on airsoft now and then, and I trust they won’t upset you too much.
Okay, that’s done. On to the topic of the day!
Today is our second look at the .22-caliber Octane combo from Umarex, and it’s velocity day. Before I get to that, there are a couple adjustments I wanted to make to the rifle. Let’s look at those now.
The first adjustment is the trigger. In the first report, I said the trigger is crisp but heavy. The adjustment screw adjusts only the length of the first-stage pull; so I adjusted it to be longer, and stage 2 decreased. Don’t go too far or the rifle will not cock at all because this adjustment does affect the area of sear contact.
I did go too far and had to call Umarex USA, where I learned that the Octane is supposed to come with a warning tag telling you not to turn in the adjustment screw more than one full turn. I went way past that, so all I had to do was turn the screw back out until the head stood even with the trigger blade — and the trigger was back to working again. For even greater contact, turn the screw so it stands proud of the trigger blade.
The second thing I wanted to adjust is the tension on the action forks because the barrel pivot was too loose. To do that, I normally take the barreled action out of the stock. But with this rifle, you need to be aware that the pins in the trigger are not held in and will fall out of the trigger if the action is tipped sideways. I didn’t know this, of course; and when the first pin fell out, it set me up for 45 minutes of work to get the trigger back together again. It seems that the trigger pins are held in place by the stock. Other airguns I’ve worked on have the same arrangement, and one solution is to put tape on one side of the trigger to hold the pins in place…and keep the trigger oriented straight up and down.
Each of the 6 free (not held by circlips or springs) trigger pins seen here is very loose in its hole and will fall out of the trigger if the gun is jostled or tipped to the side. They’re held in place by the stock. What appears to be a pin at the far right is actually a rivet.
Better still — what you can do (VERY CAREFULLY!) is remove both forearm screws and just LOOSEN the rear screw behind the triggerguard. Then the front of the action can be tipped up clear of the stock far enough to tighten the barrel pivot bolt and nut. I would advise against taking the action completely out of the stock. If you do, know how loose the trigger pins are and treat the rifle accordingly. When the pins fall out, the internal trigger parts start moving around. They’re fairly easy to align with their pin holes, except for the safety that takes a little fiddling since it’s a 2-piece assembly with an internal pivot. My advice is to leave the gun in the stock.
One final tip. When you tighten the stock screws, don’t tighten the rear stock screw (the one behind the triggerguard) too much or the trigger won’t function. It was not tight when I first took the action out of the stock; and I found that if I tightened it too much, the trigger would not work. Umarex told me the screw shouldn’t affect the trigger at all, but I’m just reporting on the behavior of my test rifle.
Now, let’s look at the velocity of the Octane. I’ve selected 3 popular lead pellets and one lead-free pellet.
JSB Exact Jumbo
The first pellet I tested was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo. This is a popular and very accurate pellet in many airguns, and I think it may be accurate in the Octane. This pellet averaged 762 f.p.s. in the Octane. The low was 748 f.p.s., and the high was 787 f.p.s.; so the spread was 39 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 20.51 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
This pellet loaded easily, perhaps too easily. I think it might be a little undersized for the Octane’s breech. That could affect the accuracy. We’ll see.
The RWS Hobby pellet weighs 11.9 grains in .22 caliber and is very tight in the Octane’s breech. It averaged 889 f.p.s. in the rifle with a low of 867 and a high of 902 f.p.s. So the spread was 35 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 20.89 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I don’t know how Hobbys will do in the Octane, but I suspect they’ll do well because of the tight fit in the bore. Of course, the Hobby is a wadcutter, so accuracy will fall off after about 25 yards.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak dome weighs 21.14 grains, which makes it a very heavy pellet. In the Octane, Kodiaks averaged 682 f.p.s. with a range from 665 to 691 f.p.s. That’s a total spread of 26 f.p.s. At the maximum velocity, the Kodiak produces 21.84 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
My guess is that the Kodiak pellet might also be a good one for the Octane. If so, that’s great because it also produces the most energy of all the lead pellets tested.
Okay, the name of the game with pellet rifles these days is speed, and the RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellet at 9.9 grains is the way to get it. In the Octane, they averaged 1029 f.p.s. with a spread from 1022 to 1075 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 53 f.p.s., so the rifle is probably still burning a lot of fuel. At the average velocity, the HyperMAX pellet produced 23.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The HyperMAX pellet fit the breech very loosely. That’s probably where the extra velocity spread came from, as more dieseling was generated by less pellet resistance. I doubt this pellet will do very well in the Octane because of the loose fit.
The rifle recoils noticeably in both directions, but there’s no vibration, whatsoever. Nearly all rifles with gas springs have a sharp buzz that hits you in the cheek, but the Octane doesn’t. In fact, aside from the recoil, it’s a very smooth-shooting spring rifle.
Remember that I had to adjust the trigger for a very definite stage-2 let-off. That affected the trigger-pull a lot. I was able to adjust it back to a release of 7 lbs., 14 oz. with very little creep. It’s heavy, as I noted before, but I think it’s crisp enough to do good work. We shall soon see!
The Octane IS NOT LOUD!
When I first tested the rifle it was very loud. And the sound persisted for longer than I felt the dieseling of a new airgun would last. But during this test the rifle suddenly became MUCH quieter. Obviously, it had been dieseling and I didn’t know it.
I originally told Edith it was a 3.7 on the sound scale when I tested it, and she adjusted the loudness level on Pyramyd Air’s product page to 4. But now she can hear that the Octane is clearly a 3. I apologize to everyone who was mislead by my earlier report. The Octane is a normal-sounding breakbarrel air rifle.
Observations thus far.
I said in Part 1 that the Octane holds very well in the hands. The weight is biased forward toward the muzzle, and the stock is slender when the off hand rests. Add the smooth shooting to this, and I think the Octane might surprise us in the accuracy test.
I plan on shooting the rifle at 10 meters with its open sights first. That should give us an idea of which pellets it likes. Then, I’ll mount the scope and shoot those best pellets at 10 meters, again. That does 2 things. First, it confirms the pellets are as good as we think; and second, it allows me time to adjust the scope for the second accuracy test at 25 yards.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m writing this extensive report to fully explore the fabulous Air Arms TX200 Mark III, which is without a doubt one of the finest spring-piston air rifles in the world! The good news is that it’s still available today. The better news is that it’s everything it’s cracked up to be! Writers have a few trite phrases to convey quality in the airgun world. “As good as a TX 200″ is one of them, and it’s very high praise.
There are 9 links above that will take you all the way back to the beginning, when I started by testing my own well-broken-in TX 200. But now I’ve shifted over to a brand-new rifle that Pyramyd Air sent to me to test. Some readers wondered if my rifle, which is so well-used that it might be performing above the bar, so to speak, because of the use it’s had. They wanted to see a rifle that’s being made today, and also one without all the wear on the parts. That’s what we’re testing now — a brand-new TX whose only shots are the ones you have witnessed on this blog.
The TX has no sights and must be either scoped or have some other kind of optical sight mounted. One of the tests we’re going to do with this rifle is to mount a red dot on it and see what that does for it. Blog reader Mannish from Mumbai asked for that test a long time back.
We’re also going to test the effects of shooting the gun at 4X and again at 16X with the same scope. Reader Duskwight asked for that — to see if the increased magnification would affect the group size. I also want to see if changing the magnification changes the point of impact, so that test will be a twofer.
I’m leading up to the scope I chose for this test. I might have selected the same Hawke 4.5-14X42 Tactical Sidewinder that was on my TX when I tested it, but that didn’t give me all the magnification I wanted for Duskwight’s test. So, I selected a vintage AirForce 4-16X50 scope, instead. Mine is older than the model being sold today, but the specifications are essentially the same. For a mount, I selected a nondescript 1-piece mount. I chose it because it has a vertical scope stop pin for the TX scope stop holes, plus it has the height needed for the scope’s objective bell to clear the spring tube. I have no idea who made it.
I started sighting-in at 12 feet, putting 3 pellets into the target and adjusting until they were in line with the center of the bull, more or less. They were high, so I cranked down about 4 complete turns on the elevation knob, knowing that back at 25 yards the gun would be shooting higher than at 12 feet.
When I shot the first pellet at 25 yards, it was still about 1.5 inches high, so a couple more turns down on the elevation knob brought it to the center of the bull. As always, I tried to intentionally keep the pellets from striking the center of the bull, as that erases my aim point very quickly. The sight-in was now complete with about 7 shots being expended.
All of today’s shooting is at 25 yards, which is really close for a TX. I rested the rifle directly on my sandbag, with the bag turned sideways, so the rested area touched about 5 inches of the forearm. I used an ultra-light hold, and the groups showed the results. I selected a couple pellets that had done well in the test of my personal TX and one that had never been tested for accuracy before.
H&N Baracuda Match
The first pellet was the one I used to sight-in the rifle — the H&N Baracuda Match. It was landing to the left of the aim point and in the center of the bull for elevation. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 0.417 inches between the centers of the 2 pellets farthest apart. That’s well within the range fired by my personal TX at 25 yards.
JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried a pellet I haven’t tried for accuracy in the TX — at least not that I can remember. The JSB Exact RS dome is a very lightweight pellet for a rifle this powerful. The first shot landed about 1.5 inches above the spot where the Baracudas were hitting, but it was still on paper, so I continued to shoot. Each shot that followed seemed to drop a bit lower on the paper, and as I was shooting I discovered something important. The rifle shoots this pellet very well, but it is extremely hold-sensitive. Moving the rifle a quarter-inch on the sandbag makes a tremendous difference. So, I was able to adjust the hold carefully and get the pellets to land closer together.
I think the RS pellet can be made to shoot, but it isn’t worth the effort when there are other pellets that shoot even better without all the fuss. The 10-shot group I got measures 1.501 inches between centers, which is terrible; but 6 of those pellets were the ones I took special pains to hold exactly the same, and they measure just 0.496 inches between centers. That’s the potential of this pellet when you handle the gun like it’s a soap bubble!
Crosman Premier heavy
The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier heavy. The group was a phenomenal 0.333 inches between centers! That’s slightly better than the best group I shot with my own TX at 25 yards, but the difference is only 3 one-thousandths of an inch and could easily be hidden by an error in measurement. So, the 2 rifles are equivalent.
I could have shot other pellets and shown you more targets, but by now you’re getting the picture. The new TX is the same as it has always been — one of the finest and most accurate air rifles on the market.
Next, I’ll test this rifle at 50 yards. I’ll do essentially the same test that I did with my own TX at that distance, but then I’ll add the 4-16X test. That will tell us if there’s an advantage to more magnification, and it will also show if the point of impact changes as the magnification changes.
After that test, I plan on mounting a red dot sight on this rifle and testing it at 25 and 50 yards. I think that will end the test of this rifle, unless something else comes up.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Here’s another new air rifle from Umarex USA. The Octane combo is a breakbarrel air rifle powered by a gas spring. Umarex calls their gas spring the Reaxis gas piston. That title Reaxis signifies that the gas spring unit is mouned in reverse of what’s normal. Instead of the heavier piston going forward with each shot…what would be the tail end of most gas springs…is where the piston seal is mounted. That lowers the reaction mass, which lowers the recoil felt by the shooter. Whether or not it works as advertised is something I’ll test and report.
I’m testing a .22-caliber rifle, at my request. I dislike wasting the energy of a super magnum gas spring on a .177-caliber gun that can’t develop the full power potential, so this is a chance to test this gun the way I would order it. The manufacturer claims a velocity of 1,250 f.p.s. with lead-free pellets and 1,050 f.p.s. with lead. Of course, you know I’m going to test that, as well.
The rifle I’m testing is serial number 00371165. It’s clearly marked Made in China, but don’t ask me what the base gun is. I find that these rifles change their personality a lot when manufacturers have them built to their specifcations, and tracking down the lineage often becomes misleading.
The Octane is a huge air rifle — 48.5 inches overall with a 14.5-inch pull. And it weighs 8.5 lbs. and 9.5 lbs. with scope and mounts. So, it’s longer than an M1 Garand and nearly as heavy. But that weight is biased toward the muzzle, so the rifle holds very steady — a huge point in its favor. And the black synthetic stock has a forearm with a thin cross-section that makes the rifle sink deep into your hand and hold much easier. Laying your off hand under the forearm just forward of the triggerguard provides a stable resting point.
The stock is designed as a permanent thumbhole with a well-shaped pistol grip. The synthetic material is rough to the touch and is checkered on two small panels on either side of the forearm at the place you want to hold it. The buttpad is a very soft and grippy black rubber pad. It’s fitted perfectly and holds on the shoulder without movement. I normally don’t like thumbhole stocks, but this one saves weight, pushes the weight forward toward the muzzle and seems to compliment the rifle very well.
The open sights are fully adjustable, but they have fiberoptic tubes both front and rear. Aiming is, therefore, not going to be precise unless you light the target to keep the fiberoptics from appearing. I’ll initially shoot the rifle with the open sights at 10 meters to see if this is possible.
But this is a combo that comes with a 3-9X40 scope and mounts. The scope has adjustable parallax down to 10 meters, so it’s ideal for airgun use. I’ll report on it as the test progresses.
There’s one additional point to make about the scope. The rifle comes with a Picatinny scope base attached to 11mm dovetails that are cut directly into the spring tube. So the shooter has the choice of using either Weaver rings that will fit Picatinny grooves, or removing the base from the gun and using the 11mm dovetails directly. Either way, though, there’s no provision for a positive scope stop, which is risky on a rifle that recoils heavily. I’ll be watching for any movement of the scope mounts and bases during the test.
Here you see the Picatinny base that’s attached to the integral dovetails. Either can be used to mount a scope, but neither has a positive scope stop because the base is just clamped to the dovetails.
The metal on the barreled action is finished to a satin sheen. It’s shinier than a matte finish, but not as shiny as most European air rifle finishes.
Like all gas springs, there’s a loud crack when the rifle discharges. The Octane has a silencer muzzlebrake they call the SilencAIR. It has internal chambers that might attenuate the discharge sound somewhat. But it’s still a loud airgun — make no mistake! Pyramyd Air rated it as a 3 on the sound scale. I thought it was closer to 3.7, so Edith changed the loudness rating to 4 since Pyramyd Air’s scale has no fractions. It’s louder than most breakbarrel magnums that have coiled steel mainsprings.
You know I have tried the rifle a few times already — just to see how it feels. I found the 2-stage trigger a bit heavy but very crisp. It’s adjustable, so I’ll see what I can do to it in Part 2. I do like the fact that the trigger blade feels fairly straight up and down because that gives me the feeling of control I want.
I read the reviews of the rifle, and they rate it very high. Accuracy is mentioned by several reviewers. I can’t wait to see this for myself, as I’ve not had good luck with the accuracy of magnum rifles with gas springs. I would love to find one that was accurate.
One thing that might work in the Octane’s favor is that the barrel pivots are screws rather than pins. That means they can be tightened. The ones on the test rifle need to be tightened before testing, as the barrel will not stay in position. The owner’s manual also says to clean the barrel before shooting. I will do both things, and report back to you on how it works.
If there’s a category of airguns that I’m dubious about, it’s the magnum springer — especially the one with a gas spring. I’ve seldom seen them shoot accurately. But I’m more than willing to believe they can be good. And if any of them has a chance, this appears to be the one. Given its power and low price, if the Octane is also accurate I’ll sing its praises to the skies!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report is getting long and perhaps a little confusing, so let me explain what I’m doing. We’ve been looking at the Air Arms TX200 Mark III underlever air rifle. I used my own TX for the first 6 parts of the report. In Part 7, I introduced a brand new TX that Pyramyd Air sent for me to test. Many of you were concerned that the rifle had changed somehow over the years since mine was made, and perhaps what’s shipped today isn’t the same rifle…so I agreed to test a new one for you. The first look at that rifle came in Part 7 of the report, and in Part 8 we looked at the velocity.
Today ,I’m going to show you the trigger in detail, describe how to adjust it and explain why I always say the TX trigger is an upgrade of the Rekord trigger that Weihrauch introduced back in the 1950s. To get to the trigger adjustments, the triggerguard must be removed. But today I’m going farther into the gun to show you the entire trigger assembly. That will help me explain how the trigger functions.
The stock needs to come off to get into the rifle, so I did that first. Just remove 2 forearm screws and 2 more triggerguard screws.
Once out of the stock, the action and trigger can be seen clearly.
Here you see the disassembly bolt (all the way to the lef). Turn it out, and the rifle comes apart. You can also see the 3 trigger adjustment screws. On the trigger blade are screws to adjust the first-stage length and adjust the sear contact area. Behind the trigger blade is an Allen screw that adjusts the trigger pull weight. Behind that is the threaded hole the rear triggerguard screw goes into.
If I were just adjusting the trigger I wouldn’t need to go even this far. Just remove the triggerguard and start by adjusting the trigger return spring tension. I found that was all I needed to do on the test rifle, as the first-stage length and sear contact area were right as they came from the factory. But you can adjust either of them or both.
To take the trigger unit out of the gun, I removed the disassembly bolt. As it turned, I pressed down on the entire barrelled action with the end cap resting on a soft cloth pad. When the bolt was free, the mainspring decompressed less than 2 inches.
When the trigger unit comes out of the rifle, it’s still pinned to the end cap and spring guide like this. Now, the trigger unit looks familiar to Rekord owners because the 2 pins that hold it to the end cap are visible.
Because I want to show you how this trigger works, I’m going to continue to disassemble the end cap. The 2 pins that hold the trigger unit in the cap are driven out. They are several times harder to remove than Weihrauch trigger pins. This unit is together very tight!
Once the trigger assembly is out, we can see how it differs from the Rekord.
The trigger assembly is similar to the Rekord — but also different. The box is riveted together instead of being a folded sheet metal structure. There’s an additional pin, forward of the trigger blade, and internally there are bearings where the Rekord parts just turn on pins.
So far, I’ve shown you the differences but not described how they work. For starters, the Air Arms trigger has adjustments for the first-stage pull and for the sear contact area, as well as for trigger-pull weight. The Rekord has the sear engagement adjustment and the pull weight adjustment but not the first-stage adjustment. But that isn’t what makes the Air Arms trigger better.
What makes the Air Arms trigger better is the presence of bearings instead of just pins. The parts are also more finely fitted, which has to be done during manufacture because there’s no money in the gun for costly hand-fitting. And the trigger isn’t the only place that’s different. The piston is also different.
The TX200 has what I will call a circular piston. All pistons are circular, of course, but most of them are held from rotating by the cocking shoe. Because of that, the piston can have a hook that’s engaged by the trigger when the gun’s cocked. That’s how the Weihrauch rifles that use the Rekord trigger are made. But what if the piston was free to rotate on its axis?
Blog reader RidgeRunner asked how the TX piston was cocked by the sliding compression chamber. The answer is that the chamber pushes the piston back until the trigger catches it. The piston rod is so long that it can be caught by the trigger while the piston is still inside the compression chamber.
When the gun is cocked, the piston rod comes back and pushes the trigger parts into lockup. As they lock up, a hook catches the rear of the piston rod and holds it until the sear releases it.
The ability of the piston to turn on its long axis while being supported front and rear by bearings adds smoothness to the powerplant without sacrificing power. A centrally located air transfer port that’s centered on the piston boosts the air scavenging efficiency and therefore the available power. The TX200 Mark III is giving all the power it can from a powerplant that’s still smooth and easily cocked.
How is the trigger after adjustment?
Before I adjusted the trigger, it released crisply at 1 lb., 12 oz., which is 28 oz. All I adjusted was the trigger return spring tension and now the trigger breaks cleanly at 12 ounces. So the adjustment dropped one entire pound. And, yet, the sear still has the same contact area, so it’s just as safe as before.
A good tuner can adjust a Rekord just as light, but the sear contact area won’t be as great as it is at 3 lbs. The Air Arms trigger allows for this adjustment without sacrificing any safety. That’s what I meant by the TX trigger being more finely adjustable that a Rekord.
By the way, the work done here, including taking the pictures, took a total of 30 minutes.