Posts Tagged ‘Supermagnum’

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle
My 18-year-old Beeman R1 with its Maccari custom stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope is a thing of beauty.

Some days, you get the bear — and some days the bear gets you. This was one of those latter days.

For weeks, my Beeman R1 has stood quietly in the corner of my office, awaiting the time when I would remove the Vortek muzzlebrake and shoot tight groups with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. If you recall, in Part 4 I was trying to show how the adjustment of the Vortek muzzlebrake affected the groups, but all my groups were pretty lousy. So, I said I would set the gun aside for awhile and think about it.

Several readers responded with advice to remove the muzzlebrake because the groups looked like some of the pellets were touching the brake on their way out. So, that was what I finally resolved to do — remove the brake and shoot some groups without it. Ha, ha! Man plans, God laughs!

Removing the brake
Sometimes, things are harder than they should be, and this was such a time. The Vortek brake was held on the barrel by three Allen screws. Two of them came off easily, and of course the third one had a stripped head. I tried cutting off the end of the Allen wrench and dressing it flat, so it fit the screw head perfectly, but that was how I discovered that the head was stripped. I drilled a larger hole in the screw and used a tiny easy-out to pull the screw. To my credit, everything worked perfectly and the screw came right out, but I was now about an hour into my test time.

Once the brake was off the barrel, I saw that two of the three screws had managed to miss the aluminum shim inside that protects the finish of the barrel. And now my R1 barrel is scarred at the muzzle. So the Vortek brake will not be going back on this gun! I have another brake that will hide the deep scratches, but for today’s test I left the barrel bare.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle scarred barrel
The underside of my R1 barrel with the muzzlebrake removed. Thanks, Vortek!

There was no indication that any pellets had touched the inside of the muzzlebrake. Still, the brake was off, and now it was time to test.

I was so confident that it would group with the brake off that it never occurred to me there would be a problem. I did check the zero at 12 feet because the brake added a lot of weight to the barrel. The point of impact could have changed a lot, but it didn’t. The pellet was still close enough to the aim point that I knew I could back up to 25 yards and let fly with confidence.

The first pellet fired from 25 yards landed above the one fired at 12 feet, which I expected. The next pellet hit close by the first, but then the trouble started. After 10 shots, I had a vertical line instead of a group. The rifle was stringing its shots up and down. It was also shooting to the right, so I dialed in some left correction and moved to another target.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle HN Baracuda target1
The lowest hole was shot at 12 feet from the target. The rest of the pellets were shots from 25 yards. Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets printed this 1.078-inch group.

The next three shots after scope correction gave me a group larger than one inch! The rifle wasn’t shooting like I remembered. Up to this point, I’d experimented with my off hand in a glove. But all I did was confirm that the R1 is a twitchy rifle.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle HN Baracuda target2
Three shots in 1.167 inches! I didn’t need to finish this group to know it was a bust.

I removed the glove. Then I experimented with the position of my off hand back by the triggerguard and also forward under the cocking slot. The “groups” got no better. I guess pattern would be a more accurate description for what I was shooting.

Tighten the stock screws?
At this point, I checked all the stock screws. They were all tight, but the barrel pivot bolt was somewhat loose, so that was tightened. Then, I returned to shooting

And it came to me! All this time I’d been shooting H&N Baracuda Match pellets. What if my R1 likes another pellet better? I switched to 15.9-grain JSB Exact domes and was sure the problem was solved. It was for the first two shots, and then the rifle went crazy again. Even the JSBs were being thrown all over the place!

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle JSB target1
Where shall I begin? The first two holes in the white, at 5 o’clock, looked promising, but the third shot through the 10-ring did, also. Too bad they were all with the same hold! As were the final three shots at the bottom of the paper. This “pattern” measures 1.347 inches between centers. I was blowing up!

Frustration sets in
In utter frustration, I rested the rifle directly on the sandbag, thinking I couldn’t really do any worse than I had been. And of course that was when it shot the best it did all day! But the group is still a vertical line, and I know the gun still isn’t responding.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle JSB target2
The best group of the session (though hardly a good one) was with the rifle rested directly on the bag. It measures 0.88 inches between centers. How’s that for a slap in the face of “Mr. Artillery Hold”? Something is wrong, and I just haven’t found it yet.

There are some things I’m thinking about. The barrel probably needs cleaning. It’s been several years since I cleaned it. When a gun starts shooting erratically after it’s been doing well, cleaning is always the first thing that should be done.

The scope is a very old one, and maybe it’s malfunctioning. It’s been on many air rifles in the 17 years I’ve owned it. Maybe it’s time to put it out to pasture.

I haven’t tried Crosman Premiers in this rifle, yet. Back when I wrote the R1 book, Premiers were the best pellets in the gun.

The book! That’s right — I wrote a book about the Beeman R1. And, not just any R1; this one! I’m supposed to know how to shoot this rifle!

Like I said at the start — some days the bear eats you. This was one of those days.

My plan is to set the R1 aside for a little while and consider all the things I know about it. Then, I’ll return and test it once again for you. I’m not giving up.

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My 18-year-old Beeman R1 with its Maccari custom stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope is a thing of beauty.

You’ll notice that I’m signing in differently today. I’ve decided to start using my real name along with my pen name. I’m doing this because some people are confused about who I am, and I don’t want there to be any confusion. From now, I’ll sign in this way. You can refer to me as Tom or B.B., just as you always have, but I’ll always answer as B.B.

Today’s the day we look at how the Vortek adjustable muzzlebrake helps control pellet dispersion for the Beeman R1 air rifle. It has been a very long time since I tested this brake, so I didn’t remember how effective it was. This test was a learning experience for me, too.

At least one reader suggested that I test the brake with all three pellets, but that would have taken much longer than I had for this test. As it was, I wound up shooting seven 10-shot groups that really fatigued me by the time it was over.

I decided to test just one pellet — the H&N Baracuda Match that I said seemed to be the best pellet the last time I shot the gun. The only thing I changed during most of this test was the muzzlebrake. The scope and type of artillery hold stayed the same, except for at the end of the test, which I will explain when we come to it.

I also used the Michael Jackson artillery hold that was recommended by blog reader mikeiniowa. That’s where you wear a glove on your off hand, so the stock can easily slide on your open palm. It’s a bit quirky, and at the end of the test I have to say that it didn’t seem to make a bit of difference, but perhaps it did help me feel the rifle’s weight better. And that did lead to an alteration in my artillery hold, but that’s yet to come.

I added the cotton glove to make the Michael Jackson artillery hold.

First group
The first group was fired with the muzzlebrake set where it was for the Part 3 test. Since I used the same pellets as were in Part 3, I expected to see a group of about the same size. What I did not expect was to see a group that looked exactly like the first group in the last accuracy test, but that’s what happened. This one measured 1.269 inches between the centers of the two widest shots, which is considerably larger than the last test with the same H&N Baracuda Match pellet. Eight of the shots landed in a much tighter group that measured 0.55 inches between centers.

The first group was 10 H&N Baracudas shot with the same muzzlebrake setting that was used in the Part 3 accuracy test. As there were then, there were 8 tight pellets and 2 that strayed from the main group.

Like before, I got 8 shots in a good tight group and 2 that went wide. These were not called fliers, but I did feel that I wasn’t holding the gun good enough, yet.

Then, I screwed in the adjustable weight as far as it would go, which was 16 clicks. This brake adjusts in very large and definite clicks, so it’s easy to know where you are and where you’re going. The next group of 10 shots was fired with the weight adjusted all the way in.

This is a tighter group than the first one; but as you can see, the pellets did not bunch up anywhere, in particular. The group measures 0.934 inches between centers.

Next, I put 16 clicks of adjustment back into the brake to see if I would get the same results as the first time. This time, no shots strayed from the main group, which measures 0.583 inches between centers. The entire group of 10 shots is close to the size of the 8 tight shots in the first group.

This time, every pellet went into the group. It measures 0.583 inches between centers.

While there’s some degree of repeatability in the two groups shot at the same 16-clicks out position, I didn’t feel confident that I’d seen all the performance the brake had to offer, so I turned it out 4 more clicks — a total of 20 clicks out from the beginning. Then, I shot another group. This time, there was definite group disruption, as not only were the shots scattered more openly, they also grouped into 1.192 inches.

Twenty clicks of adjustment gave this open group that measures 1.192 inches between centers.

Where does that leave me?
It seemed as though the groups were opening and closing, depending on how far out the weight was adjusted. It also seems that it didn’t take much to make the groups change. But I still was not convinced.

I adjusted the weight in to the point that it had 14 clicks of adjustment, then I shot another group. This time, 9 pellets landed in a reasonably tight group that measures 0.824 inches between centers. But the tenth shot opens that to 1.346 inches — the biggest group thus far and also the largest shot during this entire test. What do I make of that?

This adjustment of 14 clicks out gave a tighter group but had a lone pellet that opened the group to 1.346 inches — the largest of the entire session. What do I make of this?

The glove tells me my hold is not consistent
It was at this point that I began to feel a difference in my hold from shot to shot. The cotton glove was so slippery on the stock that I was able to feel the shape of the stock like never before. Maybe that’s what the glove is good for? I don’t know, but I went back to 16 clicks of adjustment and shot another group.

This group measures 0.913 inches between centers, but it’s different from the other groups shot on this adjustment setting. First, instead of 8 pellets bunched in one hole, this time there were only six. The other four pellets were not in the main group. The 6 that were, however, were in 0.292 inches!

Back to 16 clicks out gave this 0.913-inch group. Within the main group are 6 pellets in a tight hole on the right, measuring 0.292 inches.

The second thing I noticed was that this group is not in the same place as the other two groups that have 16 clicks of adjustment. It’s lower on the target for some reason. While shooting this group, I definitely felt the hold was changing slightly. The R1′s stock is rounded near the triggerguard, and part of the time I had the weight pressing deeper into my off hand, while other times it was away from the center of my hand, where it seemed to want to roll to the right. I thought I needed to try one more group, and this time concentrate on centering the weight of the stock in my off hand.

I was also growing fatigued at this point, having fired 60 shots thus far. Each of those shots had taken well over one minute to set up; and as I was shooting, I remembered the person who was incredulous that I said it might take up to five minutes for each shot. Right now, the time was expanding in that direction and I was growing angry, thinking about this conversation. I wondered why anyone who ever shot off a bench did not realize that shots can take this long, when you took the time to ensure everything was perfect before releasing the shot.

And it was that anger that told me I was finished for the day. I’d shot too much. But I still plowed on, convinced that the new hold I had found might be the Holy Grail for this rifle/pellet/brake setting combination.

So, I shot one more target, using this new, weight-centered hold. I felt sure it would give me the tight groups I had been looking for. The weight was still adjusted 16 clicks out, which is the best setting I’ve found with the Baracuda pellet.

At 16 clicks out and concentrating on centering the weight of the gun in my off hand. This group measures 1.151 inches between centers and has two shots outside the main group — again! The central group of 8 shots measures 0.657 inches between centers.

It doesn’t take a graph to show that the rifle performs the same on the same weight adjustment setting. No matter how the hold is modified, the rifle wants to put 8 shots into a smaller group and have two outside shots that stretch the group size considerably.

The bottom line?
I don’t think I have a bottom line for this test, yet. I think Baracuda pellets may not be the best ones to test the gun after all. I also think I shot the gun too long in this session and tired myself out, so the final results (after about the fourth or fifth group) are suspect.

It seems clear that the adjustable brake does work, but I can’t say how well, yet. I’ll set the R1 aside for a while, but I do want to come back to it in a week or so and try it with the 15.9-grain JSB Exact domes. Maybe that’ll give me better results.

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

My 18 year-old Beeman R1 with its Maccari custom stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope is a thing of beauty.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of my Beeman R1 air rifle, and I must say that I remembered the rifle exactly as it is. It is very sensitive to hold, but also very heavy, at 11 lbs. in the test configuration, which stabilizes the gun to a great degree. Compared to the twitchy over-bore spring guns of today, shooting my detuned R1 is like driving an old family car!

I sighted-in with 15.9-grain JSB Exact domes because I thought they would turn out to be the best pellets. Even though they fit the breech loose, I felt they would surpass all other pellets. Let’s see how they did.

The distance is 25 yards, and I’m shooting from a rest, using a classic artillery hold where the back of my off hand touches the front of the triggerguard. I did try a group with a different hold, but it opened right away, reminding me that I know this rifle quite well.

The first group of JSBs contains a nice 8-shot group at the center of two shots that appear to be fliers. They aren’t fliers, though, because I held the rifle the same for every shot. It’s possible I didn’t relax enough for those two shots, which is why I say the R1 is sensitive to hold. As a powerful breakbarrel, you expect it to be hold-sensitive.

This first 10-shot group measures 0.978 inches between centers, but the smaller 8-shot group within measures just 0.38 inches. That’s quite a group for a spring gun at 25 yards!

The first group gave me some confidence in this pellet, so I adjusted the scope, shot a couple rounds to settle things and fired a second 10-shot group of JSB Exacts. This time, all 10 shots landed in a group measuring 0.642 inches between centers. My hold while shooting this group was more relaxed than the first.

Ten JSB Exacts went into this group that measures 0.642 inches.

Next, I decided to try some Crosman Premiers. When this rifle was new in 1994, they were the best pellet on the market. Ten shots gave a very round group that measures 0.683 inches between centers. That’s ever-so-slightly larger than the second JSB group, so I feel these two pellets shoot about the same.

Ten Crosman Premiers made this 0.683-inch group.

I then tried the H&N Baracuda Match pellet that I don’t remember ever trying in my gun. I know they’re going slower — I can hear the amount of time the pellet takes to get to the trap. I didn’t know what to expect, but boy does my rifle like this pellet! The first 8 went into a very small group, then I rushed shot 9 and got a pellet outside the group. It wasn’t a flier, it was a mistake in technique, pure and simple. Shot 10 went into the tight group, and I ended with a group that measures 0.684 inches between centers, with 9 of those pellets in 0.54 inches.

Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made this group. While it isn’t the absolute smallest, I feel it represents the best pellet in the rifle (of those tried).

Overall impressions
I feel the H&N Baracuda Match pellets turned in the best performance overall. So much so, that after the session ended I adjusted the scope so this pellet hits the point of aim at 25 yards.

The light, crisp Rekord trigger contributed a lot to the success of this rifle. It releases so well that the rifle isn’t affected by anticipation. Before I can hope for the gun to shoot, it already has.

The R1 recoils forward a lot. That’s due to the heavy piston. But most of the vibration has been eliminated. That’s something I wish the rest of you could experience. It’s so satisfying to shoot an air rifle like this because if feels so RIGHT.

What’s the bottom line, here? Well the R1 is still a fine spring air rifle with many classic features in its favor. Being a springer, it’s difficult to shoot well, but it’s capable if you do your part. It has one of the finest triggers on the market, and there’s nothing more I can say about that. But the R1 is also a very large rifle, and often I want something a little smaller so I can shoot all day without straining.

The tune that’s on the gun now is very light and easy to deal with. It makes the R1 feel like an R9 in all ways except size and weight. Now that the test is finished, this one will go back to the closet…but I know it’s sighted-in. If I call upon it in the future, it’ll do the job.

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

My 18 year-old Beeman R1 with its Maccari custom stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope is a thing of beauty.

Today, I’ll test my Beeman R1 air rifle for velocity, plus show you the differences between the standard Rekord trigger and the special match Rekord trigger. Before I get to the velocity figures, however, let me give you a brief history of some of the many tunes that have been in this gun.

After 1,000 shots were on this rifle, it was shooting Crosman Premiers at an average 770 f.p.s. The rifle took 46 lbs. of effort to cock and shot with a little buzziness, indicating the powerplant had some looseness.

Following that test, the rifle went through a series of tunes that are way too numerous to cover here. One that’s of interest was the Beeman Laserization that was so popular in the 1980s and early ’90s. Beeman would do this tune for a price, or you could buy all the parts and do it yourself. I elected to do the latter.

The Laser seal came way oversized and had to be reduced to fit the particular gun in which it was installed. That was thought to be a superior way of tuning in those days, though today I see generic seals that work just as well without all the fuss.

I had a problem fitting the first seal, and it burned on one edge from excessive friction. I got a replacement and sized it a bit looser. You never want to lube a Lazerized rifle, as the special Beeman Laser Lube is the best stuff for friction. This lube is no longer sold. If you have a worn-out Laser seal, just about any modern generic seal can replace it with no loss of energy.

The Laser spring was weaker than the factory spring, making the rifle easier to cock. After I applied the tune and broke it in a little, my rifle averaged 765 f.p.s. with Crosman Premiers. Cocking effort was 37 lbs., which is an 11-lb. reduction for almost the same power. That’s significant!

The one thing I didn’t like about Laserization was the fact that the gun vibrated a lot more than before. That Laser spring fit the piston and guide so loosely that the only way to quiet the gun was to use Mainspring Dampening Compound on the mainspring — which subtracted velocity at the same time.

The absolute best tune I ever applied to the R1 was a Mag80 Laza Tune I got from from Ivan Hancock. It was a drop-in tune that included a buttoned piston and a long mainspring that came coated with something I called black tar in print the first time I wrote about it. After that, the airgun community seized on the term, and black tar became a product — though nothing that was ever sold separately was as viscous as the stuff on that Venom spring.

This tune took the R1 up over 22 foot-pounds with absolute zero vibration. It was so smooth I thought it had actually lost power. But the 50-pound cocking effort reminded me that the big spring was doing its thing. For reference, Crosman Premiers averaged 809 f.p.s. with this tune.

Unfortunately that spring was included in my Mainspring Failure Test, that left four different tunes cocked for one month to see the effects. The spring finally canted and was never as smooth afterward!

I also tested a gas spring made by Vortek. It was smooth and did make better than 20 foot-pounds with certain pellets, but it also took 50 pounds of effort to cock, so I have since removed it from the rifle. The gas spring put Premier pellets out the muzzle at around 790-795 f.p.s.

The tune that’s in the rifle now is a weak mainspring and a generic piston seal. Everything is moly-ed and I have used a touch of Black Tar on the mainspring to calm it down. Today we will all see what velocity the rifle currently develops with this tune, which can be researched in its entirety in the 13-part report titled Spring Gun Tune.

The first pellet I tested was that old standard — the Crosman Premier. I have given you the velocities for this pellet at various stages of the rifle’s life, so you can compare them to how it’s doing now. With the current tune the rifle shoots Premiers an average 743 f.p.s. The range runs from a low of 738 f.p.s. to a high of 751 f.p.s., so an extreme spread of 13 f.p.s. Given the pellet’s average 14.3-grain weight, the rifle produces 17.53 foot-pounds at the muzzle with Premiers. I noticed they fit the breech on the loose side, but were still what I would consider a good fit.

The rifle now cocks with just 33 pounds of effort, which is where I like it. It weighs 11 pounds on the nose, and you have to allow a little over one of those pounds for that big Bushnell Trophy 6-16 scope and mounts.

Next I tried RWS Superdomes, another domed pellet like the Premier but made of pure lead and just slightly heavier, at 14.5 grains. These averaged 742 f.p.s. in the test rifle and ranged from a low of 733 to a high of 748 f.p.s. So a 15 foot-second spread. At the average velocity this pellet produces 17.73 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The fit was loose in the breech.

Then I tried the heavier 15.43-grain Gamo Hunter. This dome fit the breech loose but also varied a lot in the seating pressure required, which indicates variability in the size. They averaged 706 f.p.s. and ranged from 700 to 710 f.p.s., which is a tight spread of just 10 f.p.s. At the average velocity these pellets produced 17.08 foot-pounds of energy.

The final pellet I tested was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact dome. These averaged 696 f.p.s. and ranged from 693 to 701 f.p.s., so the spread was just 8 f.p.s. — the tightest of the test. The fit of this pellet was loose in the breech. At the average velocity this pellet produced 17.11 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The trigger
I mentioned that the trigger in the R1 is a standard Rekord, and when I reported on the HW55 target rifles, I had mentioned that they all have special match Rekord triggers. Weihraiuch now calls all of their Rekord triggers match triggers, but back when the 55 was still being offered they differentiated between the trigger in that gun, which they called a match trigger and the one they used in every other sporting rifle. The latter was just called a Rekord.

This is the standard Rekord trigger that’s on my R1. Paul Watts gave me the smooth trigger blade to replace the Weihrauch grooved blade that comes on the trigger, but otherwise the trigger unit is stock. I have adjusted and lubricated it, of course.

The match trigger also has no provisions for a safety, in contrast to the standard Rekord. Target guns are seldom provided with safeties, as their shooters are expected to be cognizant of safe shooting at all times.

The match Rekord has an aluminum collar around the trigger adjustment screw that is used to lock the screw after adjustment. This collar is turned by hand-pressure, only, so it is knurled on the outside to provide a better grip. Let’s sample the R1 trigger against an HW55-CM trigger and see how they differ in use.

This match-style Rekord trigger is on my HW55 CM. The most visible difference between this and the standard Rekord is the locking collar around the adjustment screw.

The R1 trigger breaks cleanly at 1 pound 1 ounce — a little lighter than the recommended 1 pound 8 ounces that the Beeman instructions used to recommend. You have to remember that I have shot this rifle extensively since it was new and I have worked on the trigger, as well.

The match Rekord in my HW55 CM breaks at 7 ounces, or just less than half of where the standard Rekord goes off. It is considered very safe at this low pressure setting, because of both the design of the Rekord and that fact that a target shooter will be handling the rifle.

The two Rekord triggers are dimensionally the same. The proof of that is my HW55 SF that is an HW50 with this trigger instead of the normal Rekord that’s found on the HW50s. Back when the 55SF was made, the HW 50 was a different model than today, but the same gun could accept either trigger.

Should you swap your trigger?
The question that always comes up when I tell people about these two triggers is why not just adjust a standard Rekord to have a pull weight equal to the match trigger? The answer is the match trigger isn’t designed to hold back pistons that are compressing powerful mainsprings like those found in an R1 — or even in lesser sporting rifles. And, if you were to install a match trigger in a sporting rifle, you would be doing the same thing. So leave the trigger that came with the gun where it is and be safe.

That’s it for today. Next we will look at the accuracy potential of this rifle.

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

My 18 year-old Beeman R1 is a thing of beauty with its Maccari custom walnut stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope.

Before someone jumps on me for repeating a blog report, I’m aware that there was a three-part blog of a Beeman R1 tested by Mac in 2010. That was a test of a brand-new Beeman R1 Elite Series Combo. Today, I am starting a report on the 18 year-old R1 that pretty much started things for me as an airgun writer.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about heirloom airguns. You know what I mean — the kind of airguns that never get old. They stick around and get remodeled and updated because everyone loves them. And everyone loves them because, at their hearts, they’re built to last.

What could epitomize this more (for me) than the very Beeman R1 air rifle I used to write my book? It all began in 1976, when I bought the first edition of Airgun Digest in the Stars and Stripes bookstore at Ferris Barracks in Erlangen, Germany. That book introduced me to Robert Beeman and he, in turn, showed me the awesome Feinwerkbau 124 pellet rifle. Never mind that I was living in the city where the excellent BSF airguns were then being made (and I didn’t know it). I wanted an FWB 124 so bad it hurt.

By the time I returned to San Jose in November 1977, I wanted a 124 so bad that I drove straight up to San Rafael and bought one at the Beeman store. I was king of the world for several years with that air rifle, until, at the end of 1981, the R1 was announced. Suddenly, I was a man without an airgun, because technology had trumped my 124.

You might expect me to have responded instantly to the change, but I wasn’t exactly what you would call an airgunner in those days. I shot them, for sure, but I still thought of myself as a firearms guy who also had some airguns. And even when it was brand new in the winter of 1981, the R1 sold for almost $300. So it went on the back burner. It wasn’t until 1991, 10 years and a new wife later, that I finally got my R1. It was a Christmas gift from Edith who thought that because I could speak of nothing else when it came to airguns, I must have wanted one. Women — go figure!

That first R1 was in .177 caliber, because I was still under the mesmerizing trance cast by Herr Doktor Beeman a decade before. A thousand feet per second, and then 1100 f.p.s. was a heady aroma for a new airgunner! Well, it didn’t take very long for me to discover what it meant.

The R1 was huge — much larger than most of the firearms I was shooting at the time. And it was hard to cock! I no longer owned my 124, but I remembered its willingness to move to the cocked position with a light touch. Compared to that, cocking the R1 was like bending the bow of Hercules.

When fired, the big rifle recoiled more than a little. And I couldn’t get it to shoot very well. Perhaps three inches at 50 yards was the best I could get it to do. What a disappointment! I had waited 11 years to dance with the prom queen; and when I did, I discovered that she had B.O. and wasn’t very nice!

I need to insert a note at this point. The R1 wasn’t the first air rifle Edith bought me. A couple years earlier, she gave me a Beeman C1 that I wanted mostly because it was just a fraction of the price of the R1 that was, by this time, over $400. I shot and shot that little C1 carbine. I shot it so much that the cocking became very easy and the trigger smoothed out. I even took it apart and gave it a lube tune that actually did improve the firing behavior. This was in the days before affordable chronographs, so I didn’t know how fast the little gun shot. What I mean by that is — I was satisfied.

I even stumbled on the artillery hold with that C1 and was so surprised that I wrote an article about it and sent it to Dr. Beeman for his newsletter. I never heard from him, so I figured the article was a bust. Little did I know what loomed on the horizon! Keep that in mind as I continue my story.

I actually got rid of the first R1 because I had a better rifle. At the same time she gave me the R1, Edith also gave me a used HW77K carbine that someone had tuned to perfection. It was heavier than the R1, but it didn’t recoil and the accuracy was stunning — especially with my new artillery hold. For a couple years, I continued in that direction. Then the airgun magazine I just subscribed to went belly up, and I was suddenly cut off from a hobby I was growing to enjoy.

Edith suggested that I write an airgun newsletter of my own; and when I told her I didn’t know anything about airguns, she asked me to write the titles of the articles I thought I could write. Three legal tablet sheets later, I had enough titles for the first two years of a newsletter — and The Airgun Letter was born.

A year into the newsletter, Edith and I were talking about things I could write and a thought dawned on me. We could buy a Beeman R1 and test it from brand new through the first thousand shots — the same thing any owner would do. Then I could tune it several ways and write even more articles. I could examine the Rekord trigger and mount a scope. In short, I could do all the things any airgunner would do with a new air rifle, only I could also write about it and photograph things as I went. The newsletter would virtually write itself!

This time, I resolved not to make the same mistake as before in buying the wrong caliber. The R1 is best-suited to a .22-caliber pellet because of its power, so that’s what we got — a brand new Beeman R1 in .22 caliber to test and write about. My writing career suddenly became much easier and more fun at the same time.

The rifle arrived, and I tested and recorded it throughout the 1,000-shot break-in. Then, at a thousand shots, I started to disassemble the rifle for a lube-tune when I discovered that one of the stock anchor flanges that the forearm screws attach to was broken off the spring tube. The rifle had to be returned to Beeman!

The rifle went back and Beeman welded the flange back on the tube. That didn’t bother me. But they also gave the rifle a moly tune, since all lubricant had to be removed for the welding. I was crushed! My test control had been destroyed by an act of kindness and generosity! When I talked to Don Walker at Beeman and explained what I was doing, he reluctantly agreed to send another new rifle. So the gun that I am reporting on today is that second .22-caliber Beeman R1.

It was fired and tested for another thousand shots, and I now had two new guns that had gone through the same break-in. That made the report, titled R1 Homebrew, all the more interesting. When the number of newsletter installments grew to nine, I knew I could write a book and that’s where the R1 book came from.

The rifle
Well, that’s enough of the history of this rifle for now. What kind of air rifle is the Beeman R1? First of all, it got the name Supermagnum from the fact that it was the first spring rifle to break the thousand foot-per-second barrier in .177 caliber. It was initially advertised at 940 f.p.s. in .177 caliber, but within months that climbed to an even 1,000 f.p.s. Then Beeman came out with a special Laser tune that took the rifle up to 1,100 f.p.s. — a seemingly untouchable velocity. It could actually shoot lead pellets faster than the speed of sound!

When it was new, the R1 was considered a massive air rifle. Weighing nearly 9 lbs. and over 45 inches long, it was larger and heavier than most centerfire rifles. Today, we’re overwhelmed with magnum air rifles and these dimensions don’t seem so large — but they still come as a shock to anyone who’s never experienced a magnum spring rifle! In fact, I worry that we lose a lot of new potential airgunners who, upon experiencing one of these monsters for the first time, decide to do something else for recreation.

The R1 is made for Beeman by Weihrauch. The R1 was designed by Robert Beeman, who employed a CAD engineer just for the task of designing the gun. The agreement he made with Weihrauch was that Beeman owned the R1, but Weihrauch was free to market the same action in a European stock under the model name HW80. The 80 in that model name refers to the length of the piston stroke in millimeters. The R1 was a redesign of the HW35, which you now understand has a piston stroke of 35mm. That explains where the tremendous power of the rifle comes from. It’s not the piston diameter, though that is large, and it’s not the mainspring, though it’s also very powerful. It’s the long stroke that generates the awesome power.

Being a Weihrauch gun, the R1 comes with the Rekord trigger that many of you recognize as one of the top sporting airgun triggers. Ivan Hancock based his Mach II trigger on the Rekord. It’s a sporting trigger of even greater adjustability and finesse than the Rekord. And the Air Arms trigger that’s found in the TX200 is also a close cousin to the Rekord.

Cocking effort on a stock R1 begins at over 50 lbs. of effort; but after a thousand-shot break-in, it usually drops to around 46 lbs. In its day, that was a lot of force to cock a rifle. Today, it’s on the low side for magnum rifles. I personally don’t even like to do that much work, so I’ve tuned my R1 down to less effort while still retaining most of the power. That long piston stroke does a lot for you!

Compared to today’s modern air rifles, the R1 seems like a traditional old-school gun. Although the stock is made of beech, not walnut, it’s nicely checkered and well-shaped. The finish is a modern synthetic that takes a shine after being handled awhile. The bluing used to look matte to my eyes when compared to guns like the Webley Mark III, but in today’s market it is a standout deep black with a good polish.

Back in the day, R1 guns came with fine, adjustable Weihrauch open sights and the front globe took inserts. Those days are gone for economic reasons and also because the majority of buyers will scope their rifles immediately. All veteran Weihrauch owners like me have a drawer filled with take-off sights from guns we’ve owned in the past.

I tested two new .22-caliber R1s for my articles, and they both performed similarly, though the second rifle was slightly more powerful. When new, it generated above 19 foot-pounds with RWS Hobby pellets; and after 1,000 shots, it dropped to 18.4 foot-pounds. That’s an average of 838 f.p.s. for the light Hobby pellet. The cocking effort decreased to 46 lbs. at this point, but the gun hadn’t been lubricated yet.

I then stripped the rifle and gave it a standard moly lube job, putting moly on the thrust washers that ride between the base block and the action fork. The cocking effort dropped to 39 lbs., and the power dropped to 16.98 foot-pounds with Hobby pellets.

I’d used Beeman Mainspring Dampening Compound on the mainspring in this tune; and when this compound was removed, the cocking effort remained at 39 lbs. and the power increased to 17.47 foot-pounds. Some vibration crept back in, and the recoil felt a little heavier — but it was still better than the broken-in gun before the tune.

One last thing
My rifle has the Vortek adjustable muzzlebrake for tuning a spring gun. I’d forgotten that I put it on this rifle. Maybe I can do some tuning during accuracy testing?

The Vortek adjustable muzzlebrake has no capability for silencing the shot. All it does is tune the barrel vibrations.

What now?
I’m going to tell you where my R1 is now, with regard to tunes, in the next report. It won’t be the report of a brand-new airgun; but if you want one like it, the model is still being sold. All you have to do is put about 20,000 shots on i,t and you’ll have one that’s as well-used as mine.

I’ll show you the velocity and power of the rifle as it’s now tuned, plus I’ll give you an historical look at several past tunes that have been noteworthy.

Finally, I’ll show you the accuracy you can expect from this rifle. In the time since I last shot it seriously, there have been vast improvements in pellets. We may be in for some surprises.

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Air Arms TX200 air rifle

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