Posts Tagged ‘targets’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Not as pretty as I would like. This Diana 23 has led a hard life. I’ll refinish it.
Today, we’ll return to an oldie we haven’t looked at in close to 2 months — the Diana 23. You may remember this is a rifle I bought for very little from an online auction — and when it arrived, I found it was better than expected. The finish is gone, but I plan to refinish it. And Larry Hannusch generously donated a brand-new old-stock Diana 23 barrel for the project, so I’m farther along than might be expected.
Last time, we tested the rifle at 10 meters and found that it showed decent accuracy for such a low-powered air rifle. Today, I’m pushing that out to 25 yards with 2 of the best pellets from the last test, plus a new one I’ve thrown into the mix. The goal is to see if this little vintage springer is accurate enough for general plinking duty out to 75 feet.
Days like this are always relaxing for 2 reasons. The first is that I’m testing something that’s no longer available, so there are no company reputations on the line. I enjoy testing airguns, but it’s disturbing to read all the sniping negative comments we receive when things don’t go exactly perfect. It makes me feel like I have failed the gun somehow, and that’s nerve-wracking.
The second reason a day like today is a pleasure is that the gun, itself, is such a little sweetie. The Diana 23 is lightweight and easy to cock. The trigger is certainly not world-class, but it releases with a reasonable pull; and, if the gun is also accurate with open sights, all the better.
I find when I shoot light low-powered airguns like the 23, the artillery hold isn’t so important. I grasp the rifle tighter than a real artillery hold, though not as tight as I would hold a recoling centerfire. Maybe something more like a rimfire hold. The rifle seems to respond okay to this treatment.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. They did well in the 10-meter test that I read before starting this one. I noted that deep-seated pellets did best in that test, so all pellets in this test were seated with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. The RS pellets fit the bore very well and were not tight going into the breech as they were seated. They hit the target high and just a little to the right when I held the tip of the front sight on the 6 o’clock spot of the black bull. I used the standard 10-meter pistol target because it appears large enough for open sights all the way out to 50 yards.
The group I got measures 1.16 inches between the 2 furthest centers. I’m quite satisfied with that group, except for the centering. The way the 23′s sights are made, I’ll have to drift either the front or rear sight in their dovetails to correct where the pellets land; and since I’m going to change the barrel, I decided to wait and see where the new one shoots.
Air Arms Falcon
The second pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon that blog reader Kevin Lentz likes so much. They’re made by JSB and weigh the same as the RS pellets, so the temptation is to think they’re RS pellets under a different name. But I don’t think that’s the case. The late Bill Saunders of Air Arms told me that Air Arms owns the dies for all their pellets; and even though JSB makes them, they’re not simply rebranded pellets. If anything, Falcons fit the bore a little looser than RS pellets.
At any rate, Falcons didn’t do as well as RS pellets in the Diana 23. Ten of them made a group that measures 1.568 inches between centers. This group appears not to have 10 shots in it, but several pellets must have gone through the same hole at the top of the group because I counted each shot carefully.
The final pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They fit the bore very snug and popped in when seated. Though they were at the outside limit of distance for accuracy (wadcutters start to spread apart after 25 yards), they performed very well — delivering the smallest group of this test. Ten pellets went into 1.014 inches at 25 yards. With that kind of accuracy, I would stick with the Hobbys that are less expensive than the other premium pellets anyway. Sure, the accuracy falls off as the distance increases, but how much farther do I expect to shoot this rifle? Not much!
That’s all I’m going to test for now. Next comes the refinish and then whatever I do as I put the rifle back together. It’s a fun little gun. I wish there were more like it!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll test the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle at 25 yards. And today was also supposed to be the day I tested how long you have to wait to remove the CO2 cap after exhausting the gas. That’s not going to happn, though; because when I took off the CO2 cap to install 2 fresh CO2 cartridges, I noticed the o-ring was damaged pretty bad. So bad, in fact, that it might not work any longer. I switched it for a common black Buna o-ring of the same size and then charged the gun. At the end of this report, I’ll tell you how that works.
JSB Exact RS
When I tested the rifle at 10 meters, the best pellet was the JSB Exact RS dome, so that was the first pellet I tested this time. As I predicted after shimming the rear scope ring, the rifle was hitting too high at 25 yards. I had to drop it about 2-1/2 inches and move it to the right about three-quarters of an inch.
The first 10-shot group I fired measures 0.523 inches between centers. It’s nice and round, also. Remember, I’m using the 4x scope that came with the rifle, so the bullseyes looked pretty small at 25 yards. Also keep in mind that this shooting was done indoors, so wind is not a factor.
The first group looked so good through my spotting scope that I shot a second one with the same RS pellets. This time, 9 of the pellets went into 0.455-inches, but one shot opened the group to 0.688 inches. That wild shot was not a called flier; it just went astray.
This second group of JSB Exact RS pellets measures 0.688 inches between centers.
H&N Baracuda Match
The second-best pellet at 10 meters was the H&N Baracuda Match, so that was the next pellet I tried. Ten landed in a 0.625-inch group that’s open but fairly round at the same time. Looking through the scope, this group didn’t look very promising; but I see upon inspection that it isn’t much worse than the first 2 groups.
Air Arms Falcon
The final pellet of the day was the Air Arms Falcon dome, which is made by JSB. Sometimes, this pellet surprises me with stellar accuracy. This time, 10 pellets made a group that measured 0.56 inches between centers. It’s very close to the first group of JSB Exact RS pellets, which turned out to be the best group of the day.
The new o-ring
The new o-ring worked, but there was some leakage when I pierced the cartridges. The gas exhaust screw wasn’t the culprit this time — it was the o-ring that leaked. I suspect I selected a ring that is too thin for the job. When I removed the cap, I saw that this ring had also absorbed the gas and swollen quite large. I took a picture of it 5 minutes after taking it out of the gun and again after 45 minutes, so you can see the dramatic difference as the o-ring outgasses and shrinks back to normal.
There’s a lot to like about the Fusion air rifle. It certainly is accurate, and it fully delivers on the promise of quiet operation. There aren’t many other air rifles in this price range that can compete. Even the scope that comes with the rifle seems to be up to the task.
While today’s groups are not stunning, they’re all good. It’s interesting to note they’re all under three-quarters of an inch and some approach a half inch.
I do think the o-ring that comes with the rifle needs to be changed to something that doesn’t swell. And it would be nice if the trigger was more adjustable. But those are small points. If you’re looking for a fun plinker that’s both quiet and accurate, put this one on your list!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is the first accuracy test of the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle. It comes one part late because we spent time looking at the CO2 cap, the adjustable trigger and the power adjuster in Part 3. The power adjuster is straightforward — twist the screw in and increase the striker spring tension to increase power. The trigger, we learned, is adjustable, but the safety slider prevents a very wide range of adjustability. You can modify it if you choose, but I don’t recommend it; and it will void any warranty on the gun. Blog reader mikeiniowa explained how it’s done, but he said to use caution — and I don’t intend doing it to the test gun.
You should now understand how the CO2 cap works, but there’s one additional thing that I think needs to be stressed. The gas exhaust screw on the cap is to use after the CO2 has been depleted. Screw it in and exhaust the remaining pressure. But that isn’t the end because the cap still cannot be taken off safely, as a reader mentioned yesterday. The o-ring that absorbs gas has to be given a lot of time to exhaust that gas and shrink back down to normal size before you attempt to remove the cap. If you try to remove the cap too soon after exhausting the gas, the o-ring will still be swollen and tightly wedged in place. You could tear it if you use too much force on the cap. So, let an hour or two pass before you try to remove the cap; and leave the exhaust screw screwed in, so the remaining gas that leaves the o-ring can get out of the gun. Anyone who has ever owned a Schimel CO2 pistol knows what I am talking about because they had the same problem.
Mounting the scope
The Fusion comes with a 4X32 scope and rings that must be mounted on the gun. The rings are made to clear the rounded receiver top, so don’t think just any rings will work. I want to show you what one of the rings looks like after installation, so you don’t go nuts thinking it’s not on the gun squarely.
The Fusion receiver is rounded on top, so the bottom of the scope ring must be profiled to clear the hump. The rings that come with the gun are correctly shaped for this. Don’t let the cockeyed jaw piece fool you — this ring is on the rifle straight and tight!
The scope caps have 2 screws each, which is perfect for this gun. There’s no recoil, so 2 screws hold the scope tight enough for good accuracy.
Once the scope was mounted, I sighted-in at 10 meters. All of today’s shooting will be from 10 meters for reasons I will explain as we go. I’m telling you that because the groups will be smaller than if they were shot at 25 yards. I do plan on testing the Fusion at 25 yards, too, but first I have to establish what it can do closer.
One additional thing about the sight-in. All the pellets struck the target low at 10 meters. I accepted that for the whole test, and I had to adjust the scope up very high to even get that. You know how nervous that makes me! So, at the end of this test I’ll shim the rear scope ring and try one more group with the best pellet. The groups you’ll be seeing are either low on the bull or just beneath it.
JSB Exact RS
The first group was shot with the JSB Exact RS pellet. As I shot, I could see all the pellets going into the same place; although with the 4x scope, it wasn’t easy to see exactly how good it was until I went downrange. It turned out that 10 pellets made a 0.286-inch group, measured between centers. And this group is very round, which is a good sign that everything is right with the rifle.
I observed several things while shooting the first group. The first is the trigger, while having a very long second stage pull that you can feel, is very controllable. Next, I did find the rifle just a bit fiddly to load. Once I got the hang of it, however, I was able to load pretty fast. But the pellets tend to flip around in the trough — especially the domes!
And, finally, I noted how very quiet the Fusion is! Our female cat, who usually walks around the house complaining every time I shoot, found it hard to hear what I was doing unless she was in the room with me. Even then, the noise didn’t seem to bother her, though Edith did say she walked into her office to complain once. Other than that, she was quiet. I think any apartment-dweller could shoot this rifle indoors without bothering the neighbors.
H&N Baracuda Match
Next, it was time to test the H&N Baracuda Match pellets. They landed higher on the target than the RS pellets but were still below the point of aim. This group measured 0.345 inches and was just as round as the RS group.
Crosman SSP hollowpoint
Then I tried the lightweight lead-free Crosman SSP hollowpoint. I didn’t expect much from these pellets, but I tried them because I’d used them in the velocity test. They produced a 10-shot group that measures 1.66 inches between centers. Obviously, I’m not going to shoot this pellet at 25 yards and risk hitting the walls of my house or the furniture! This is why I started shooting at 10 meters.
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. Ten went into 0.59 inches at 10 meters. But the first pellet went to the left of the next 9, so I think this might be one of those times when conditioning the bore was required for best results. Not that I believe in that theory, mind you, but this time it really looked like that’s what was happening. The 9 pellets went into 0.36 inches — a much better showing! The Hobby is the third best pellet in the test, but I think the group of 9 is more representative of what it can do.
The JSB Exact RS and the H&N Baracuda Match are the 2 pellets I’ll test at 25 yards. I would include the Hobbys, but 25 yards is right where wadcutters start to spread out, so I’ll just go with the 2 domes. However, there’s still one more thing to try today.
I removed the scope and put one plastic shim on the bottom of the rear ring under the scope tube, then installed the scope again. I went back to 10 meters without any sight-in shots and shot one more group with JSB Exact RS pellets. The group moved up over 1-1/4 inches and over to the left by a half-inch. This is where I will begin shooting at 25 yards, knowing that I’ll probably need to decrease the elevation to get back on target. Isn’t that interesting, that the point of impact moved up so much with a single shim? The shim measured 0.013 inches, by the way.
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.244 inches at 10 meters. It’s the best group of the day! This group was fired after a 0.013-inch shim was placed between the scope and the rear ring. The scope was then simply remounted and no sight-in was done. This group is about 1.30 inches higher than the first group. It also appears to be smaller, but the dark paper hides the true size of the pellets.
Impressions so far
The Fusion is a winner! I like everything about it. It has taken some time to understand; but now that we’ve been through the design and know what to expect, you show me another air rifle that costs $170 and shoots like this one. We’re talking groups very similar to what vintage 10-meter target rifles can produce.
No — it’s not a good rifle for hunting; and, no, I don’t think it can be modified to become one. If that’s what you want, get a Discovery. Leave the Fusion as it is — a nice, quiet, accurate rifle.
25-yard testing yet to come.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
It’s been some time since I did Part 3 of the Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle. Just to remind you of where we left off, I found the gun difficult to shoot with the UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster rifle scope because of the medium-height scope rings. I removed that scope and mounted the UTG 3-9X40 True Hunter rifle scope that comes bundled with high 2-piece Weaver rings. They were better, but even they seemed a bit too low because of the bullpup configuation. This is the same scope I used in the test of the Hatsan AT P1 PCP pistol.
Today’s test was done at 50 yards on an outdoor rifle range. The weather was perfect, without a hint of breeze. I didn’t sight-in the scope before going to the range, so I sighted-in at 50 yards. Luckily, the scope wasn’t that far off, and I was on target in 3 shots.
The 25-yard test that was done in Part 3 showed that only 2 pellets were worth trying at 50 yards. I shot just them and nothing else.
I also want to remind you that the rifle likes to be filled to 2,900 psi according to my tank’s gauge. It has more than 10 shots on a fill, but it does go through air pretty quick. So, just for continuity, I refilled after every group.
JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes
I sighted-in with the best pellet from the earlier test, which was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. Since the third shot landed where I wanted, I continued to shoot and made an 8-shot group for starters. That group measured 0.961 inches between centers. I noted that the bullpup-style stock made the rifle difficult to hold steady on target, so this group was as steady as I was able to hold. I was fighting the trigger, which breaks at 6 lbs., 10 oz. It’s hard to hold on target with a trigger this heavy. Also this rifle is tall and narrow, so it wobbles from side to side when you hold it. I didn’t see a way around that at first, but then I figured it out.
Next, I shot a 10-shot group with the same JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. The rifle’s circular magazine holds 11 pellets, but I loaded it with only 10 to keep things consistent with most of my other 50-yard tests.
The scope had been adjusted higher for this group, so the shots landed higher on the bull. Ten pellets made a 1.501-inch group. I must comment that during this group I saw the crosshairs move around on the bull a lot more than I would like. That heavy trigger caused it. In the group that resulted, I see 2 separate points of impact that are one above the other. That isn’t what I would expect a sideways wobble to produce, but something was wrong with my hold. I had to solve that first.
Toward the end of the first full group, I found a way to stabilize the rifle pretty well. I was shooting off a sandbag rest that helped with stability, and I found that if I gripped the frame tight (where the forearm would be on a conventional rifle) the wobble stopped. That made me more confident that the group I would be getting was what the rifle could actually do.
Following that group, I shot a second group of 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Heavies that measured 1.406 inches between centers. This one is fairly well centered on the bull and doesn’t have the 2 separate points of impact like the first group. I think the improved hold was responsible, although I can’t see why a sideways wobble would do what I’d seen before. Maybe the wobble was greater than I thought?
The second full group was a little smaller than the first — at 1.406 inches between centers. I felt the rifle was held well for this group. This is as good as this pellet can do (in general) in this rifle with me on the trigger.
Next, it was time to try 10 Beeman Kodiak, which was the second-best pellet at 25 yards. It didn’t do as well. The first few shots scattered all over the place, landing far to the left of the aim point and also a bit lower. When all 10 shots were finished, I had a 2.32-inch group that looks more like a shotgun pattern than a group from a rifle. However, I must note that 9 of those shots did land in a 1.331-inch group. But the one lower shot that opened the group wasn’t the last one. It was the third shot. Based on that, I would scratch Kodiaks for this rifle and stick with the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavies.
I’ve come to the end of my test of this air rifle. It’s been an interesting journey, and I’ve learned some things from it. First, when you scope a bullpup, get the highest scope rings you can. Ring risers might be a good idea. Second, the idea that bullpup actions have poor triggers is apparently true. And finally, when the cross-section of your rifle is as flat as a flounder, it will be harder to hold steady.
The Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle is definitely a different beast! It holds different and shoots different than a conventional PCP. If you’re looking for the bullpup styling, then either this or the Evanix Max bullpup is the airgun you want. It will produce acceptable accuracy out to 50 yards when you do your part. Just remember that the trigger is stiff and creepy, and the rifle needs a firm hold.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This Diana 23 has led a hard life.
Today, we’ll see how accurate the Diana model 23 is. This report was supposed to be published just before the Roanoke airgun show, but so many things popped up at the last minute and got in front of it that I held off on this one til now.
Before we begin, let me give you a little update on the rifle. At Roanoke, Larry Hannush, the owner of all those beautiful ball reservoir airguns, came over to my table and handed me a brand new barrel for the model 23. He had read that I was going to refinish it with Blue Wonder and he thought a new barrel would shorten my time on the project. In fact the barrel of the gun was the only part where rust had done some more serious work. The old barrel would have either had pits in it, or I would have had to draw-file them out. This new barrel solved a problem for me, so thanks, Larry!
I decided to test accuracy at 10 meters because of the small size of the rifle. I selected 3 different pellets for this test, but none of them was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. I would like to tell you why. Crosman pellets are made from a lead alloy that’s hardened with antimony. As a result, their skirts don’t deform as easily as pellet made from pure lead. In a lower-powered rifle like the 23, that means they may not seal all the air behind the pellet.
The second reason I usually don’t select Crosman pellets for guns like the 23 is that they’re often right at or just under the required dimensions. They work very well in repeaters where their smaller size and harder lead are an advantage. In more powerful guns, their skirts can be blown out into the rifling; but in a single-shot spring-piston air rifle of low power, neither of these things is an advantage. So, I seldom select them for guns like the 23.
Now, let’s begin the test. The rifle is rested at 10 meters, and I’m using a classic artillery hold — though as light as the 23 is, it isn’t easy to hold this way. I had to grip it more than I would have liked just to control it.
RWS Hobby flush-seated
The first pellet I tried was the venerable RWS Hobby wadcutter. At just 7 grains, it seemed perfect for the power of the 23. I seated these pellets flush, but as I did something in the back of my mind sent up a red flag. After all the testing of deep-seated pellets in air rifles of lower power, I reckoned I had to come back and also try this pellet seated deep.
Ten flush-seated Hobbys went into a 0.792-inch group at 10 meters. The group looks okay, but it’s a little on the large side — even for shooting a light rifle with open sights.
At this point, I knew I had to try seating these pellets deep in the breech. I was going to give you a link to the one report where I showed that deep-seating improves accuracy with guns of lower power, but some searching turned up about 20+ reports that all show the advantages of deep-seating! That kind of overwhelmed me. I guess I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I thought!
The next 10 pellets were seated deep into the breech, using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. Of course, you can also use a ballpoint pen to seat pellets; but this seating tool allows you to adjust the depth to which you seat the pellet, and that can be beneficial.
This time, 10 Hobbys made a group measuring 0.52 inches between centers. Not only was it significantly smaller than the first one, the point of impact shifted up about an inch and the group became very vertical. The gun was definitely shooting this pellet differently, and all that had changed was the seating depth.
After seeing the results of this test, I decided to seat the rest of the pellets deep. It seems like that’s what the 23 wants.
JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried the JSB Exact RS dome. In the velocity test of this rifle, you’ll remember that this pellet exceeded both the other pellets in velocity and muzzle energy. I was anxious to see how it did for accuracy. This time, I didn’t fool around with flush-seating — I just assumed deep-seating was the way to go. Ten of them went into 0.618 inches.
Shooting behavior of the Diana 23
Like I said before, the Diana 23 is a light rifle, and holding it with the artillery hold is difficult. On top of that, add a trigger that breaks at almost 7 lbs., and you can see that I was fighting the rifle’s physical characteristics for accuracy. When I break down the rifle for refinishing, I think I’ll take a look at lightening the trigger. Dropping a few pounds of pull could have a major impact on accuracy.
The rifle does discharge without much vibration. The feel of each shot is very solid and quick.
The last pellet I tried was the Beeman Devastator hollowpoint. I’m aware that Beeman refers to this pellet at a pointed pellet, so I’m showing you an enlarged view here. It sure looks like a hollowpoint to me — and it’s designed to perform like one, too.
I decided to try Devastators because of how surprising they were in the Pellet velocity versus accuracy test I did back in December of 2011. They proved that vibration and not velocity alone is what destroys accuracy in a pellet. In this test, 10 deep-seated Devastators made a 0.667-inch group, which is on the high side. I don’t think this is the right pellet for this rifle.
I guess I’m surprised by the accuracy potential of this little spring rifle. It looks so small that I thought its performance would also be small. But it wasn’t. Of course, I’ve learned that this one is shooting a bit slow, so maybe there’s even more to see. I think this rifle deserves a 25-yard test before I strip it down and begin refinishing.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I don’t know about the rest of you, but this blog is teaching me things. I’m learning a lot more things by doing all these little tests and experiments than I ever learned by reading about airguns. Of course, that’s partly because there aren’t that many good books around, but it’s more because of the excellent discussions we have here. And more often than not, something really special comes from all this study.
Yesterday, I was finishing an article for my monthly column in Shotgun News when I happened to spot something interesting. I was writing about the Chinese KL-3B Fast Deer sidelever spring-piston air rifle and I showed two targets — one shot with RWS Hobby pellets at 10 meters and another shot with the same pellet at 25 yards. The 10-shot group at 10 meters measured 0.38 inches between centers, and the 10-shot group of the same pellet that was shot at 25 yards measured 1.918 inches. That was certainly a huge increase for just moving the target 14 yards farther! But it was more than that. I had seen something similar recently — something that really stuck in my mind.
Fast Deer sidelever rifle has a quality look, but the accuracy falls off fast after 10 meters.
Then I wrote something in the column that jogged my memory. I said the Fast Deer was acting like it was a smoothbore because it shot great at 10 meters but lousy at 25 yards. That was just how the Diana model 25 smoothbore had shot when I tested it last year! And that’s when it hit me. As I remembered it, it was performing EXACTLY like the Diana model 25 smoothbore!
The 1940 Diana model 25 smoothbore performed exactly like the Fast Deer air rifle.
So I looked it up, and I was right. With JSB Exact RS pellets the Diana 25 put 10 into 0.337 inches at 10 meters, and at 25 yards it put the same JSB Exact RS pellets into 2.421 inches after I played with the seating to find the best place.
Learning has occurred! I now know that I’m getting the same results from a gun with a rifled bore as I got from one that is a smoothbore. Or, to put it another way, the rifled gun shoots like the pellets aren’t being stabilized by the rifling. It shoots like a smoothbore.
Is the Fast Deer even rifled?
Then I wondered if the Fast Deer is really rifled. So, I ran 2 different pellets down the bore from muzzle to breech — have to go that way because the barrel is fixed. Both pellets (RWS Hobby and an old Tech Force Chinese pellet) showed good engraving around the bases of their skirts, but only one showed any contact with the pellet head. Unfortunately, the RWS Hobby that I’d used when testing the rifle did not have any marks on its head. Instead, it was the domed Tech Force pellet made years ago that had engraving. However, I never shot the Chinese pellet when testing the gun for accuracy. Pyramyd Air used to carry them, but they no longer do. The point is, they may solve the longer-range accuracy problem. If they don’t, I will look around for another fat .177 pellet that will.
So what we have is a Part 6 test coming up for the Fast Deer rifle. I said I would scope it and shoot it at 25 yards for Part 6, but if it doesn’t shoot accurately with open sights at 25 yards, that seems like a big waste of time.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Long-time readers know that I preach about buying commercial targets made with real target paper rather than making your own. Targets that are home-printed are usually worse than useless — they actually don’t tell you anything because of how badly the paper tears.
Today, I have to amend that comment. Life is full of contradictions, so get ready for one from me. There’s one instance where I use targets that I print because they’re better than any commercial targets I’ve found.
I spend a lot of my shooting time on the 100-yard range, working on various loads for several scoped rifles. I’ve shown you the fruits of this shooting many times in the past. One time, I showed you how 10 first shots (shots fired from a dead-cold barrel) could group especially well from a Savage model 1920 rifle of mine in .250 Savage (.250-3000) caliber. The target I used for that report was a conventional bull. As long as the sun was bright, I had no problem seeing where I was aiming; but with scopes of lower power or with those whose optics are slightly muddy, all precision is lost.
This is the group of first shots (each shot made from a cold barrel) from the .250 Savage. The bull was easy to see because the day was bright and the scope was clear; but if it hadn’t been, I would have lost some aiming precision with a black bull like this.
The target for that group is a 50-foot timed-fire pistol bull that I use for a lot of target work. It is one of the best bull targets I own for pistol shooting; but for work with a scope at longer range, it leaves something to be desired. That something is precision. You lose the intersection of the crosshairs in the black center of the bull. This target costs me around a quarter-inch in aiming precision at 100 yards, depending on the light and the scope I’m using.
All the while I was shooting at my fancy store-bought targets, my shooting buddy, Otho, was using a target he’d drawn by hand with a black Sharpie felt tipped pen. It consists of 2 rectangles — one inside the other. The beauty of his target is when you sight on it with a conventional scope crosshair, you can see precisely where the center of the inner target box is because the straight lines of the reticle define that area very precisely.
Otho asks me to shoot his rifles at his targets sometimes, so I slowly became familiar with the way his box targets work. And their obvious superiority was clear from the beginning. When shooting at one of them, I could see the intersection of the crosshairs so clearly that the exact center of the inner box was an easy point of aim.
It only took a couple exposures to Otho’s new targets before I was drawing them myself — on the back of my store-bought target paper. Though my drawn boxes were not very square, my groups started to get smaller right from the start!
My first hand-drawn box targets were crude but still superior to round dark bullseye targets I had been shooting because I could see the center of the box with the scope’s crosshairs.
Then, Otho showed up at the range with targets he’d printed from his computer. He used very heavy card stock paper that was almost like manila folder stock, and the bullet holes were formed as well as they would be on any commercial paper target. Naturally, I followed suit. Within a couple more range sessions, I was shooting printed paper targets of my own manufacture. Now, all the lines were straight and square, and the targets were all the same size.
Now that the targets are printed, they’re standardized sizes and the lines are straight and square. There’s no aim point on the target when I shoot at it. I drew it in to remind myself of where I had been aiming.
I think I paid $14 for 500 sheets of this special paper at an office supply store. There are 6 boxes on each sheet, and each sheet costs 2.8 cents. Now, THAT is cheap! You have to spend some money in the beginning, but then you get thousands of useful targets to shoot at. Of course, the printer toner costs something, too, but that cost is very minimal.
This story is not about saving money. Price has nothing to do with the value of these targets. I would be touting them if they cost 10 times as much. They’re the best, most precise aim points I’ve ever seen for a scope sight. And the beauty is that you can try them for yourself at almost no cost. Start like I did, by drawing targets on stiff paper with a felt-tipped pen. That will give you the experience to know what size targets you need for various distances.
For my 100-yard targets, the inner box is 1 inch wide on the inside and the outer box is 2 inches wide on the inside. I’ve made some 200-yard targets that are about 175 percent larger than these. The lines are 8 points wide, but I’m thinking of reducing them to 4 points because a .22-caliber bullet can get lost inside the current lines. Using a 10-power scope or greater, they’re easy to see at 100 yards.
Normally I don’t believe that making your own targets is a good idea, but this is an exception. These targets are the best I’ve seen for sighting-in a scoped rifle/pistol and for shooting groups. Obviously, they lack the scoring rings that are used in competition, so they can’t replace bullseyes entirely; but for sighting-in and group shooting, they’re perfect.
Oh — you may have noticed that I titled this report Part 1. There’s more to come. As long as we’re talking about targets, I thought we should really get into the subject. If you have anything you’d like to add or see, please let me know.