Posts Tagged ‘Ton Jones’

AirForce EscapeSS: Part 3

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 1
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 2

This report covers:

• 50-yard accuracy of Predator Polymags on high power.
• JSB Exact Kings accuracy.
• Kings on high-fill pressure.
• Benjamin domes.
• Kings on max power.
• Observations so far.

EscapeSS
AirForce EscapeSS

If you’re seriously interested in one of the AirForce Escape survival rifles, this blog series should be very beneficial. I’ve tested each rifle and attempted to get the best accuracy possible, using the best pellet. Last time, we looked at the rifle at 50 yards with the Predator Polymag pellet. Today, we’ll look at the EscapeSS accuracy at 50 yards using different pellets with the gun set to higher powers and greater fill pressures. Today’s test was an eye-opener for me.

The day at the range was windy, with a 5 m.p.h. breeze blowing all the time and gusting to 20 m.p.h. I waited for the wind to get as calm as possible, but all shots were in the wind. Sometimes, I took shots with the wind blowing up to 10 m.p.h. I think you can get away with that when shooting a .25-caliber pellet gun, though it’s not ideal.

Predator Polymags at higher power
In Part 2 of the EscapeSS, I shot the rifle at power settings 6 and 7 and with the reservoir filled to 2000 psi and 2200 psi. That was done because testing with both the Escape and the EscapeUL rifles demonstrated that the Predator Polymag pellet was the most accurate. Those rifles also seemed to be most accurate with their reservoirs filled to 2000 psi.

I said at the end of the last test that the Predator Polymag pellet still had to be tested at higher power and with a 3000 psi fill, so that was the first test on this day. I filled the gun’s reservoir to 3000 psi and dialed the power to 8. Then, I shot 5 Predator Polymags.

EscapeSS power 8
The power was set to 8, but as you can tell from the dial on the left, this is not a precision setting.

The results were not very promising. Instead of the 3/4-inch to 1-inch groups I got last time, this time 5 Polymags went into 1.526 inches. While that’s acceptable for hunting at 50 yards, I’d hoped to get better accuracy from this rifle.

EscapeSS Predator target power 8
When the power and pressure were raised, the Predator Polymag pellets started to scatter at 50 yards. Five went into 1.526 inches.

JSB Exact King
For the next group, I wanted to try something that was way out of the box. I filled the reservoir to 3500 psi and left the power setting on 8. That’s more pressure than the factory recommends, but I’ve read some reports from other shooters that say the gun does well with this kind of fill. I wanted to see. This was the first time I was trying JSB Exact Kings in this rifle.

The impact point shifted up about 4 inches, and 5 Kings landed in 1.387 inches. The rifle actually shot better with this pellet at this higher pressure; although, with a 12-inch barrel I doubt that there was much more velocity.

EscapeSS JSB King target 1 power 8
Five JSB Exact Kings went into 1.387 inches at 50 yards on power setting 8 and a fill of 3500 psi.

Having one good target, I decided to try it again with the same setting and fill pressure. This was to see if the first group was a fluke. This time, 5 Kings landed in 1.588 inches, which is close enough to the first group to say this is about what the rifle can and will do with these settings. This time, though, I adjusted the scope to get the pellets on target.

EscapeSS JSB King target 2 power 8
The second try with Kings at a fill of 3500 psi and power 8 gave me this 1.588-inch group.

Now, I decided to follow the manual and fill to just 3000 psi. I left the power setting on 8 — and 5 Kings went into 1.077 inches. Almost a one-inch group!

EscapeSS JSB King target 3 power 8
The fill pressure was lowered to 3000, and the power stayed on 8. Five Kings went into 1.077 inches at 50 yards!

That was so surprising that I filled the rifle to 3000 again and shot a second group, also on power setting 8.  I noted that the shots did drop a bit, so I adjusted the scope again. This time, 5 Kings went into 1.233 inches. So close to the first group that I think this is where the rifle wants to be.

EscapeSS JSB King target 4 power 8
The second try with Kings and a 3000 psi fill on power setting 8 gave me this nice 1.233-inch group. This is a good setting for this pellet.

I also noticed something interesting that illustrates a point I’ve been making for years. The gauge on this particular rifle does not agree with the gauge on my carbon fiber tank. When the tank gauge reads 3000 psi, the rifle’s gauge is off the scale! This illustrates how some small pressure gauges can be off by a lot, which is why you pick one gauge to follow — in this case, the one on my carbon fiber tank — and go by it all the time.

EscapeSS  pressure gauge
When the carbon fiber tank gauge reads 3000 psi, this is what the rifle’s gauge says. This is only on this particular rifle. The other Escape gauges read pretty much the same as the carbon fiber gauge. The point is that small pressure gauges can differ a lot.

Benjamin dome
Now it was time to see what the rifle would do with the Benjamin domed pellet. I kept the power at 8 and the fill at 3000 psi, and 5 pellets went into 1.667 inches. That sort of turned me off after seeing what the Kings could do, so I didn’t shoot a second group. Sometimes, you just know when one pellet is better than another.

EscapeSS Benjamin dome target power 8
Benjamin domes seemed to open up at these power and fill settings. These 5 measure 1.667 inches between centers.

JSB Kings at max power
It was time to try the JSB Exact Kings at maximum power and a 3000 psi fill. I shot 5 of them into a 1.831-inch group. As I was finishing this group, the wind was picking up to the point that I had to shoot in 10 m.p.h. wind and higher. I finished the day with these results:

EscapeSS JSB King target 5 power max
The last target was shot with Kings on a 3000 psi fill and poower set at max. It measures 1.831 inches between centers, but the wind was really picking up when it was shot.

Observations so far
I was surprised that the EscapeSS liked a higher power setting and fill pressure than either the Escape or the EscapeUL. Perhaps, that’s because of the shorter barrel, whose muzzle is so close to the front barrel bushing. I don’t know, but it underlines the need to test these adjustable rifles in many ways and with many pellets.

All 3 Escape rifles are for survival, though they can be used for hunting by anyone. Hunters typically use very few actual shots. The only exception would be when eliminating pests like rats or pigeons. The Escape rifles have small reservoirs that allow easy filling from a hand pump. I’ve found all 3 rifles to be well-suited to their role, but each has different qualities that the shooter may enjoy. With the EscapeSS the big difference is how quiet the rifle is. It’s not as quiet as some PCPs, but it’s also a good deal more powerful than most of them.

I’m still planning to report on the velocities of the 3 Escape rifles at their optimum power settings, so there’s more to come.

AirForce EscapeSS: Part 2

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 1

This report covers:

• How loud?
• Experience with .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels.
• First accuracy test of the Escape SS.
• What’s next?

EscapeSS
AirForce EscapeSS

Today, we’ll start looking at the accuracy of the AirForce EscapeSS. Unlike other accuracy tests, this one didn’t start at 10 meters or even at 25 yards. I went right out to the rifle range and shot the rifle at the 50-yard backstop.

When you have an air rifle with the power of these Escape rifles, you have to take it outdoors. Unless you have a very special place to shoot, this is an outdoor air rifle.

How loud?
But with that said, the EscapeSS is also the quiet version of the rifle. So, I didn’t wear hearing protection at the outdoor range. I knew the gun wouldn’t be loud enough to hurt my ears, and I wanted to be able to tell you how loud it is. I did not fire the rifle on full power for today’s test, but all the shots sounded very restrained. I would say it was louder than a Benjamin 392 on 8 pump strokes, but not as loud as a Benjamin Discovery in .22 caliber. It’s a sound you can hear, but it isn’t as sharp as a .22 long rifle or even a .22 short.

Experience with AirForce .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels
To this point in time, I’ve tested the Escape and the EscapeUL — both in .25 caliber. The .25 caliber doesn’t have many accurate pellets, but testing these rifles and the TalonP pistol has revealed a few. One of them stands out as the absolute best. The Predator Polymag pellet in .25 caliber is hands-down the most accurate pellet I’ve tested in these Escape rifles, and my observation agrees with the Escape’s co-developer — Ton Jones.

I cut right to the chase and used the Predator Polymag pellet exclusively in today’s test. I’ll try other pellets in future tests — but, for today, I shot only this one.

Setup
The other experience I have with the Escape rifles is that they’re most accurate with fill levels of 2,000 psi and a power setting of 6. That’s how I set up the rifle for the first group.

I removed the Bushnell Banner 6-18X50 scope from the EscapeUL and mounted it on the EscapeSS in a BKL 1-piece mount and, without even sighting in, I started shooting at 50 yards. I’d planned on sighting in, but my first pellet struck the bull I was aiming at, so there was nothing more to be done. Apparently the EscapeUL and EscapeSS are very similar!

I shot 5-shot groups, because I have found the Escape rifles to be most accurate within a 5-shot band. Sometimes, this will stretch to 6 or even 7 shots, but that’s about all if you’re shooting groups at 50 yards. And I’m shooting groups so small they prove the rifle for hunting purposes! This is not some generalization or extrapolation of accuracy. I’m reporting what these rifles can do in the field.

The first 5 shots went into 1.197 inches at 50 yards. The group was off to the left of the bull, with just the first shot in the black.

EscapeSS first group
First 5 Predator Polymags at 50 yards went into 1.197 inches. This was without sighting-in the rifle — just mounted the scope and started shooting!

With these same settings, the worst group of 5 went into 1.341 inches, and the best 5 went into 0.975 inches. That’s 3 groups that average 1.171 inches. That is about what the rifle does on this setting.

EscapeSS second group
Second 5 Predator Polymags at 50 yards went into 1.341 inches. Of the 3 groups on this setting, this was the worst.

Next, I boosted the fill pressure to 2,200 psi and left the power setting at 6. I got 2 groups — one that was 0.903 inches and the other that was 1.63 inches. That’s a big difference.

EscapeSS third group
Bumping the fill pressure to 2,200 psi and leaving the power set on 6, I put 5 Predator pellets into 0.903 inches — the second-best of this test. But the very next group using the same settings opened up much larger.

Next, the power was increased to 6, and the fill pressure remained at 2,200 psi. I got one group at 1.638 inches, which turned out to be the worst of the test, and a second at 1.077 inches.

I dropped the fill back to 2,000 psi and left the power at 8. This gave a group measuring 1.185 inches.

After that, I dropped the power to 7 with a fill pressure of 2,000 psi. The first group measured 0.778 inches, and the next one measured 1.444 inches. The 0.778-inch group was the best of the entire test.

EscapeSS fourth group
These 5 Predator pellets went into 0.778 inches — the best of this test. That ragged hole at the top is a pellet hole that has partially closed.

Analysis
How do we make sense from these results? It seems the rifle is capable of shooting 5-shot groups smaller than one inch at 50 yards, but the average is slightly larger than one inch. Only one group in this test was as large as 1.50 inches, which I think says a lot about the stability of the .25-caliber Predator Polymag in this rifle.

I didn’t test the other 2 Escape rifles this way, but the results I got with both of them do seem to fit this pattern. It was only because of those results that it was possible to cut through the maze of pellets, pressures and power settings and get these results so fast.

Of course, I haven’t tried this pellet at full power, yet, nor have I tried the rifle with a 3,000 psi fill. I think that has to be tried — just to say that it was done.

The rifle also needs to be tested with other pellets; although, if the groups it gets are similar to those gotten with the other 2 Escape rifles, we may begin to understand that all .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels perform similarly.

When the other accuracy testing is completed, I’ll test all 3 Escape rifles for their velocities with the most accurate pellets. That would be the information I would want as a hunter.

Evaluation of the EscapeSS
The EscapeSS is closest to the TalonP pistol that sired all three Escape rifles. You would expect the performance to be identical, except that this rifle is both quieter and comes standard with an adjustable buttstock. If you’re looking for quieter performance in a survival air rifle, the EscapeSS might be the one for you.

AirForce EscapeSS: Part 1

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3

This report covers:

• Summary of the AirForce Escape report up to this point.
• There are three different air rifles.
• EscapeSS is quieter.
• EscapeSS description.
• How does the EscapeSS differ from the TalonP pistol?
• What comes next?

It’s been a while since we last looked at the AirForce Escape air rifles. To date, we’ve seen the power, accuracy and general characteristics of the AirForce Escape and the EscapeUL, which is the ultra-light version. Today, we’ll start looking at the EscapeSS, which is the version of the rifle with some sound muting.

We’ve seen that the Escape rifles can generate tremendous power — up to 97.88 foot-pounds of muzzle energy from the Escape rifle when the heaviest .25-caliber pellets are used. We’ve also learned that the Escape rifles are at their most accurate when the fill pressure is lowered and the power is dialed back. That held true for both the Escape and the EscapeUL, so it seems to be a trend; and I’ll use that experience when testing the EscapeSS.

There are three rifles!
Before moving on, I want to emphasize there are three different air rifles. The Escape, EscapeUL and EscapeSS all have different specifications and deliver different performance. I’m telling you this because customers are starting to run the model names together and getting confused over which rifle does what.

EscapeSS three rifles
The three Escape rifles are the Escape (top), the EscapeSS (center) and the EscapeUL (bottom).

Each of these air rifles is unique and different from the others. The Escape is the most powerful of the bunch. The EscapeUL is the smallest and lightest, and the EscapeSS that we’re looking at today is the quietest of the three.

If you forget how the first two rifles performed, I urge you to go back to the reports linked above and catch up. I intend reporting on just one rifle in this report — the EscapeSS.

EscapeSS
The EscapeSS is a smaller rifle with a 12-inch barrel inside a frame that acts as a shroud.

Quieter rifle
The SS is the quiet version of the Escape — just like the Talon SS is the quiet Talon and the CondorSS is the quiet Condor.

To achieve this quieter report, the EscapeSS has three baffles ahead of its muzzle. They’re held tight in the frame by a Belleville washer ahead of the last baffle and behind the end cap.

EscapeSS baffles
Inside the EscapeSS shroud/frame are three Delrin baffles and a Belleville washer to keep them from rattling.

I’ve already been to the range and can report that the EscapeSS really is quieter than either the Escape or the EscapeUL. It has the same recoil of the other two, which is greater than the recoil of a medium-weight .22 rimfire rifle, but the sound is greatly reduced.

However — just because the muzzle report is greatly reduced from the Escape does not mean the EscapeSS is a quiet rifle. While it’s much quieter outdoors than a .22 rimfire, it’s also louder than a Benjamin 392 pumped 8 times. The EscapeSS is not for suburban backyards! It’s more of a quieter hunting air rifle for public lands. I doubt it would be noticed beyond a half-mile away.

The EscapeSS description
The EscapeSS is a precharged pneumatic air rifle that comes in both .22 and .25 calibers. It has a 12-inch Lothar Walther barrel; but like all AirForce sporting rifles, it can accept barrels of any length. It can also accept other calibers, but I don’t believe I’d try one in .177 caliber because this powerplant is so overwhelmingly powerful that it would be hamstrung by such a small bore size.

The rifle weighs 4.3 lbs., and its length varies from 27.75-inches to 32.25-inches — depending on how the shoulder stock is adjusted.

The rifle is made on an aircraft aluminum frame that houses all the parts, including the barrel. The 213cc air reservoir can be filled to 3,000 psi, nominally giving about 10 powerful shots. Like all AirForce sporting air rifles, the EscapeSS has adjustable power via an adjustment wheel located on the left side of the frame.

How does the EscapeSS differ from the TalonP pistol?
I have to address this issue before the questions start flooding in. Sharp observation will notice that both the EscapeSS and the TalonP have the same 12-inch barrel (that comes in both .22 and .25 calibers), and they share the identical powerplants. So, what makes them different?

First, the TalonP frame is shorter. This makes the gun smaller, but it also means there’s no room for the baffles. The TalonP is louder than the EscapeSS at the same power.

Next, the TalonP comes without the extendable shoulder stock. You can purchase one as an accessory if you like, but the basic pistol comes without it. The EscapeSS is a rifle that comes standard with the shoulder stock.

The EscapeSS and TalonP should both develop comparable power when they’re set up the same way. But the TalonP is more compact, and the EscapeSS is more of a carbine-length rifle. You have to decide which is best for you. You can always add the shoulder stock to a TalonP, but you cannot make it as quiet as an EscapeSS.

As I said, I’ve already been to the range with the EscapeSS. I used the experience obtained when testing both the Escape and EscapeUL rifles instead of testing every pellet in the rifle. And I knew beforehand that the fill pressure and power settings needed to be lowered, so I started low and worked around until I found the best combination.

EscapeSS power
We know that the EscapeSS has a 12-inch barrel. Knowing how barrel length affects velocity, we know that the velocities for this rifle are going to be lower than for either of the other 2 rifles. But when I tested the rifle, I discovered something I didn’t expect.

All these tests used the 43.3-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet. On high power with a 3,000 psi fill, the first 5 shots gave the following results.

Shot Vel.
1     785
2     776
3     763
4     749
5     739

This gives an average of 763 f.p.s for the first 5 shots. At the end of the shooting, the tank pressure still read 2,500 psi. At the top velocity (shot 1), this pellet produces 59.26 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 55.99 foot-pounds.

I then dialed the power setting to 8 and refilled the tank to 3,000 psi. That gave the following results.

Shot Vel.
1     784
2     763
3     759
4     748
5     736

That gives us an average velocity of 756 f.p.s. Not very different, is it? The tank pressure after these 5 shots read 2,400 psi. At the top velocity, the muzzle energy was 59.11 foot-pounds. At the average velocity, the energy was 54.97 foot-pounds.

Then, I dialed down the power to 4 and got a huge surprise. That gave the following results.

Shot Vel.
1     801
2     779
3     767
4     758
5     741

The average velocity for this string was 769 f.p.s. — the highest in the test! At the top velocity, this pellet produced 61.70 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. At the average velocity, it made 56.87 foot-pounds! So, the rifle was more powerful on power setting 4 than it was with the power wheel dialed up as high as it will go. The rifle’s ending tank pressure read 2,500 psi.

The 12-inch barrel is showing up in these results. Clearly the rifle is wasting air with this pellet when the power is set above a certain low number. I think the number is around 4, but it would take more testing to know for sure.

That’s as much velocity testing as I’m going to do now because it isn’t helpful. I’ll come back and do a more thorough velocity test when I know which pellets this gun likes. With this gun, it isn’t just about power. Accuracy is also very important. The best combination of both is what we’re looking for.

In my next report, I’ll show you the results of the first accuracy test, which are very encouraging.

The next step in testing the Escape rifles
After we complete testing the EscapeSS rifle for accuracy, we’ll start the next phase of testing for all 3 rifles. That will be testing their velocity at the most accurate setting with the most accurate pellet or pellets.

Following that, I’ll install a .22-caliber barrel in the Escape and test that. If I see enough difference between the Escape and the Condor, we may do more testing in that caliber, but I don’t know yet. It’s too far into the future to know for sure.

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2

EscapeUL
The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. Everything has been modified to save weight.

I’m still in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, filming segments for this year’s American Airgunner TV show, so today’s report will be short. After I reported the 50-yard accuracy test for the EscapeUL, blog reader Gunfun1 asked me if I had remembered to coat the pellets with Slip 2000 oil that Ton Jones likes. I had to admit that I’d forgotten, so I promised him I would. Last Friday, I went to the range and shot the EscapeUL with just the 2 best pellets — the 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet that develops the maximum power in the rifle, and the Predator Polymag pellet that was the most accurate on lower power.

Predator Polymag
The first pellet I shot was the Predator Polymag. I did that because the rifle was still set on the same power setting I used in the last test. If you recall, I shot 2 groups of Polymags that time. One was 5 pellets in 0.622 inches at 50 yards. I thought that was phenomenal! The second group of 5 opened up to 1.298 inches, but I shot it in a continuous wind. I just waited for quieter moments, but the wind was always blowing for that group.

Oiling the pellets
I put several drops of the Slip 2000 lube on the foam that JSB packs in the tops of their tins. Predator Polymags are made by JSB, so they always have this foam. Then, I put some pellets on the foam and rolled them around until they were moist to the touch.

The first target I shot looked like it was going to beat my earlier best group; but after 3 shots, the rifle threw the next shot to another location, opening the group much larger. Okay, I thought, maybe I didn’t get the fill pressure just right. I continued shooting until there were 6 shots on this target. The entire group measures 1.545 inches between centers. That isn’t bad; but in light of what I did before with unoiled pellets, I wasn’t happy with it.

EscapeUL with Predator Polymag pellets
Six oiled Predator Polymag pellets made this 1.545-inch group. The first 3 shots were at the upper left.

This group suggested to me that the EscapeUL doesn’t like oiled pellets. It seemed like once the bore was oily, accuracy went south. Of course, I couldn’t let it ride without testing it once more. This time, the pellets were oiled in the same way, but the bore was already oily. I mention that because the next group of 5 wasn’t nearly as good as the first. Five Predator Polymags went into 2.634 inches! And that was what I expected would happen. When I saw the pellets in the previous group opening up, it was something I have seen before. Oiled pellets often do this, in my experience.

EscapeUL-predator-group-2
Five more oiled Predator Polymag pellets made this 2.634-inch group. From what I’ve seen, this is pretty common with oiled pellets, though sometimes they’ll shoot better than they do when dry.

The wind was starting to pick up, so I switched from Polymags to Eun Jins. This time, I ran the power up as high as it would go and filled the reservoir to 3,000 psi. The last time, I shot 5 dry Eun Jin pellets into a group that measured 1.866 inches at 50 yards. That set the bar for the oiled pellets.

And the challenge was met! I got an almost-identical 1.862-inch, 5-shot group with the oiled Eun Jins. The measurement error is larger than the difference between these 2 groups!

EscapeUL-Eun-Jin-group
Five oiled heavy Eun Jin pointed pellets went into 1.862 inches at 50 yards. That’s so close to what they did when dry that it’s too close to call.

Sometimes, you win…and other times not
I know this isn’t a huge test with lots of controls and numerous targets. But I didn’t think oiling the pellets was actually going to help. From what I see here, it didn’t. It’s just one extra step for little or no return. I certainly would not oil the Predators, again!

The one advantage I see with oiling is that it makes the pellets load easier. At least it does for the Predators. The Eun Jins load very hard no matter what you do. I had to use the flat side of the screwdriver blade on my pocket knife to get them into the breech — even after oiling!

I doubt I’ll oil pellets for this rifle again.

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL Part 1

EscapeUL
The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. Everything has been modified to save weight.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the new .25-caliber AirForce EscapeUL. This is the ultra-lightweight version of the Escape rifle and has most of the Escape’s power but is more than a pound lighter. The Escape is already lightweight, but at just 4.25 lbs., the EscapeUL is a real featherweight.

The day I chose to test this rifle was very cold, with a threatening breeze that soon picked up to a 20 m.p.h. wind. I did all of my shooting between puffs and gusts.

EscapeUL Tom at bench
It was a cold day that grew windier the longer I shot. But the EscapeUL did itself proud!

Full power
Because this rifle is so potentially powerful, I decided to test it all-out with the first 2 pellets. The power adjuster was run up as high as it would go and the tank was filled to 3,000 psi. The first pellet I tested was the heavyweight 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet. As you’ll recall from my tests of the Escape, I’m shooting 5-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups because the velocity decreases with every shot. At 50 yards, I can keep 5 shots in a good group, but trying to do that for 10 in a row opens things up. There are still 10 good shots on a fill, but you have to change your aim point to use all of them.

The first group measured 1.866 inches between centers. That’s with a pellet that produces from 70 to 80 percent of the power of a .22 long rifle bullet, so it’s plenty potent. The Eun Jin pellets are not the most accurate in these rifles; but for power on target, they’re pretty hard to beat.

EscapeUL 50-yard Eun Jin pointer target
Five heavy Eun Jin pointed pellets went into 1.866 inches at 50 yards on max power.

Next, I refilled the rifle and tried the same thing with the 35.8-grain Eun Jin dome. This time the group opened to 2.506 inches between centers. In light of the heavier pointed pellet’s accuracy, I don’t think I would use this pellet in this rifle.

EscapeUL 50-yard Eun Jin domed target
Five Eun Jin domes made this 2.506-inch group at 50 yards. This is not the pellet for this rifle — at least not on full power.

Experience comes in handy
I’ve said many times that a shooter can adjust these AirForce rifles so much that you’ll never be able to test everything; but, fortunately, there’s a better way if you have some experience to go on. And I did have some experience because I’d already tested the Escape rifle. While it does have 6 inches less barrel and a thinner barrel to boot, the rest of the EscapeUL is pretty much the same as the Escape. I felt that if I went in the direction that gave some success with the Escape, it might work with this rifle, as well.

JSB Exact King
I knew that the Lothar Walther barrels in AirForce rifles like JSB pellets, and in .25 caliber the JSB Exact King pellet is a real performer. When I tested the TalonP pistol, the King was one of the best pellets, and you know the Escape rifles are all based on the TalonP platform.

I also knew that I should reduce both the starting air pressure in the tank and the power setting to do well with the King. But I wanted to see if it could handle the full 3,000 psi; so, the tank was filled to the max, but the power setting was dialed back to setting 8. I started shooting and was so successful that I kept right on after the fifth shot. Eight shots went into 1.61 inches at 50 yards. I would have shot another 2 shots but this time the air pressure had dropped to 2,000 psi on the built-in gauge, and I thought the next shot might go somewhere else.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 1
Eight JSB King pellets went into this 1.61-inch group at 50 yards. They were going so well I couldn’t stop shooting!

Next, I tried the Kings with the same power setting (8) and a starting air pressure of 2,600 psi. I shot just 5 pellets that went into 1.209 inches at 50 yards. That was definitely the best the rifle had done to this point, but I’d seen even better accuracy from the Escape, so I decided to shoot these pellets again.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 2
When the fill pressure was stopped at 2,600 psi and the power setting was on 8, five JSB Kings went into 1.209 inches.

A second group of Kings with the same fill pressure and power settings produced a 1.526-inch group. That was still good, but I felt the rifle could do even better. It was time to switch pellets.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 3
Five more JSB Kings on power setting 6 with a 2,600 psi fill made this 1.526-inch group.

Predator Polymags
Ton Jones has done more testing than I with these rifles, and he likes the Predator Polymag pellet the best. Even when he knows the Eun Jin pointed pellet produces more energy, he trusts the Predator Polymag to go where he shoots. That was the next pellet for me. I filled the tank to just 2,500 psi and set the power at 6.

I expected a good group, but I wasn’t prepared for how good! Five Polymags went into 0.622 inches at 50 yards. Despite the cold (20 degrees F) and the winds that were gusting to 20 m.p.h., this hollowpoint pellet was drilling them in!

EscapeUL 50-yard Predator Polymag target 1
Predator Polymag pellets are definitely the ones for this rifle. Five went into 0.622 inches at 50 yards.

Predator calls their Polymag a pointed pellet, but I call it a hollowpoint. The point is just a plastic tip that’s glued in place. The pellet acts like a hollowpoint on game, so I call it one regardless of the plastic tip. Just a little quirk of mine, I guess.

That first group was stunning. By now, the wind was blowing all the time, and my day with air rifles had ended. I did shoot a final group of Polymags in the wind, waiting out the gusts and shooting when the wind was down to about 5-10 m.p.h. The same setting and fill pressure was used. This time, 5 pellets landed in 1.298 inches at 50 yards, and I can truthfully say it was the wind’s fault. However, this group is still the third best of the day, which says a lot for the Predators in a reasonable wind. I think Ton is right — this is the best pellet for the Escape rifles, but you have to lower the power and fill pressure.

EscapeUL 50-yard Predator Polymag target 1
Although this group is larger, it was shot in the wind. Five Predator Polymags went into 1.298 inches at 50 yards.

More to do
As with the Escape rifle, I’m not done with the test just yet. I need to get the velocity figures for the best pellets, power settings and fill pressures so we have some idea what this rifle can reasonably do in the field. Before I do that, I want to try the EscapeSS first.

Summary so far
Most shooters will look at the Escape’s raw power and choose it over the EscapeUL on that basis, alone. But I look at the light weight, compact size and the stunning accuracy of the EscapeUL and think it would be my pick, so far. From the standpoint of muzzle report and recoil, there’s very little difference in these 2 rifles. Both are loud and both kick like a rimfire rifle — perhaps even more. But there’s still one more rifle to test.

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3

I’m testing 3 AirForce guns together — the Escape, the EscapeUL and the EscapeSS. All 3 are based on the same powerplant that is derived from the TalonP pistol. That’s why I am grouping them together like this. But each rifle has its own unique characteristics, too. And this is our look at the EscapeUL, which is the ultralight version of the rifle. It’s the lightest of the 3 air rifles and comes in either .22 or .25 caliber. I’m testing a .25.

Escape Escape SS Escape Ultralight
Escape on top, then Escape SS and finally Escape Ultralight on the bottom.

As you will remember, the Escape is a collaboration between AirForce Airguns and Ton Jones, the star of television’s Auction Hunters. Ton had the requirement for a survival airgun and came up with the idea of putting a longer barrel on the TalonP pistol action, and AirForce did the engineering and development that turned it into a production rifle.

What does survival mean?
Survival is a word that’s charged with emotion, so the definition depends on the person who is using it. For many people, the term connotes a human wave attack with bullets and missiles flying everywhere — a last stand at the Alamo. But is that what survival really means? If you’re in the Alamo at that moment, I guess you would agree with that definition, but most of us will thankfully never be in that situation. But every year, millions of people are thrust into real survival situations.

Hurricane Sandy, a force 5 tornado, a blizzard that won’t stop or just having your truck break down 20 miles off Old Lincoln Highway outside Ely, Nevada, in the late summertime can all qualify as survival situations. Maybe all you have to do is hold out for 2 days before someone comes looking for you. You were exploring an old ghost town, and now they want to add you to the town rolls!

You don’t need a track-mounted machine gun or a Patriot missile launcher, but it sure would be nice to know you could defend yourself if a wild dog showed up! Or, if you had some way of popping one of those elusive prairie chickens that run along the ground and seem to stay just outside throwing distance. So, in your truck, along with the extra water, gasoline, MREs and sleeping bag (with cot, for this is the desert) you have a small canvas bag. Inside is a scoped EscapeUL, a hand pump and a tin of pellets. The rifle has been sighted-in, but you check it with one shot at an MRE wrapper stuck on a creosote bush 40 yards away — just to be sure. Then lay the rifle on top of the bag on the ground and put 10 pump strokes back in — 7 to get the air line up to pressure and 3 for the shot you just fired — and everything is good to go. The bag weighs 12 lbs., total, and has straps for shoulder carry. That’s what we mean by a survival airgun.

We took a good look at the Escape rifle for both power and accuracy and found that it can be plenty accurate when you use the right combination of pellets and pressures. Ton has pronounced it good to go, and his logo is on every Escape made.

The EscapeUL, however, is an AirForce idea. Ton knows about it and did test it, but it doesn’t bear his logo. It has slightly different features for a person with slightly different needs.

The EscapeUL is designed to remove all unnecessary weight from the rifle, while retaining as much of the power as possible. It has an 18-inch barrel instead of the Escape’s 24-inch barrel, so some velocity is lost. We’ll see how much in a moment.

The barrel isn’t just shorter, it is also thinner. Instead of a nominal 16mm diameter for the Escape barrel, the UL barrel is just 12mm. That diameter is only nominal. Some comes off when the barrel is ground before bluing. The barrel on my test rifle measures 0.477 inches across, which translates to 12.1158mm.

The net weight of the EscapeUL is 4.25 lbs., making it several pounds less than most precharged rifles and even less than some of the lightest ones.

EscapeUL barrel thickness
The EscapeUL barrel (bottom) is thinner than the Escape barrel, saving weight.

Of course, we all want to know what a thinner barrel means as far as accuracy goes. That test will be next. But now, let’s take a look at power.

The EscapeUL shares the same 213cc Spin-Loc air reservoir as the Escape and TalonP pistol, so the number of shots per fill is going to be about the same. Physics being what they are, we already know what to expect. The powerplant is also the same. The same valve in the tank and same striker weight and spring tension will give similar performance. It’s the 18-inch barrel that makes the difference.

With the heaviest .25-caliber pellet, which is the Eun Jin pointed pellet that weighs 43.2 grains, the maximum velocity in the 18-inch barrel is about 910 f.p.s. The 24-inch Escape barrel gave a maximum of 1010 f.p.s. with the same pellet, so the UL barrel loses about 100 f.p.s. In term of muzzle energy, that’s 79.46 foot-pounds on the first shot, compared to the 97.88 foot-pounds for the Escape.

As with the Escape, the velocity drops with each succeeding shot. By shot 5, the velocity will be down to 855 f.p.s. That carries an energy of 70.14 foot-pounds.

In .22 caliber, the energies are all lower because the pellets are lighter. With a 28.4-grain Eun Jin dome the maximum velocity is 980 f.p.s. on the first shot. That’s 60.58 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. By shot 5, the pellet leaves the muzzle at 900 f.p.s. and generates 51.09 foot-pounds.

You can discuss their performance in several different ways; but to my way of thinking, the Escape rifles are best in .25 caliber. I’m glad that’s the way I will be testing this one.

EscapeUL
The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. The shorter slender barrel reduces the weight.

The trigger, adjustable stock, automatic safety and scope mounts are identical to those found on the Escape. It’s plenty for a scope, scope level, tactical flashlight and laser. There’s even enough for a coffee grinder, if you can find one that will fit!

Some thoughts
I’ve already been asked if the Escape rifles will run on CO2. They should, but it will need to be tested to say for sure. Since they were not designed to operate on CO2, I’ll have to find a way of filling the reservoir. No CO2 coupling I know of will mate with an air coupling, so it may take me some time to work it out.

I’ve also been asked on the back channel how quiet these airguns can be. Quite frankly, I don’t know. Given all the technology in the world, they can probably be made quieter than a Marauder; but once I answer that, the next question will be if all that technology can be reduced in size to fit in a pocket! We criticize the U.S. Air Force for asking that everything be made from unobtainium (strongest metal known whose forms weigh nothing and add lift to airframes), yet we do the same thing when it comes to powerful airguns. “Great,” we say, “but can they also be quiet and get lots of shots, too?”

There’s survival and then there’s daydreaming. We’re talking survival here.

AirForce Escape: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

AirForce Escape rifle
The AirForce Airguns Escape precharged pneumatic air rifle is a powerful new survival rifle in both .22 and .25 calibers.

Last time we looked at the accuracy of the AirForce Escape at 50 yards. I shot the rifle on low pressure and a low power setting on that day to see what it could do. You may remember that at 50 yards, I got a best 5-shot group with JSB Exact King pellets that measured 0.594 inches between centers. That’s great for a .25-caliber PCP, but I know it left some of you wondering what the rifle can do at its maximum power. Today, we’ll look at that.

The heaviest .25-caliber pellet I have is the Eun Jin pointed pellet, which weighs 43.2 grains. So, it’s a little heavier than the standard bullet of a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. We know from testing that this pellet leaves the muzzle at up to 1010 f.p.s., generating 97.88 foot-pounds of energy.

I also had some Eun Jin domed pellets to test. At 35.8 grains, they’re lighter than the pointed pellet but might be accurate enough to make a difference. As long as I’m testing, I thought why not test them, too?

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin pointed and domed pellets
These are the 2 pellets used in today’s accuracy test. The pointed pellet weighs 43.2 grains, and the dome weighs 35.8 grains.

The wind had just started to pick up at the range. I had finished testing the Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock and shifted to the Escape because I felt the power of the gun and weight of the pellet wouldn’t be affected by this wind nearly as much as a smaller pellet moving at lower speed.

Max power
The first thing I tried was the heavy Eun Jin pellet on max power and with a max power setting on the gun. The first 2 pellets went through the same holes at 50 yards, and I thought I was on to something. Then, shots 3 and 4 moved 2 inches to the right but also landed in a single hole. Shot 5 then landed an inch to the left of the first 2 shots, giving me a 5-shot group that measures 2.478 inches across the widest centers. While that is adequate accuracy for larger animals at 50 yards, it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be.

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin pointed pellet group 1
Five Eun Jin pointed pellets on maximum power with a 3,000 psi fill at 50 yards. The group measures 2.478 inches between centers, but look how they landed. The first two are left of the pellet, the next 2 are to the right of the dime (in the same hole) and pellet 5 is all the way over to the left.

I remembered that there are 10 good shots on a fill of the Escape’s small 213cc reservoir, so I shot the next 5 pellets at a different target. The scope wasn’t adjusted. The reservoir pressure at the start of this string was about 2,600 psi. This time ,all 5 went into 1.622 inches. That’s a significant improvement. According to the velocity test data, these shots ranged between about 71 and 82 foot-pounds.

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin pointed pellet group 2
By starting with less reservoir pressure, the group tightened significantly. These 5 shots went into 1.622 inches between centers at 50 yards.

I was satisfied with the results of this heaviest pellet, but I’ve never gotten the best accuracy with pointed pellets. I felt I might be at the limit of this pellet’s performance. Time was passing and the wind was building, so I moved on.

The lighter domed pellet remained to be tested. On max power with a 3,000 psi fill, I got several open 5-shot groups that all hovered around 2 inches. While that’s okay, it isn’t what I wanted. Then, I shot a couple groups with the power set to max and the starting air pressure set at 2,600 psi. The only reason I did it that way was because of the results of the heavier pointed pellet I’d just tested. And that’s where the magic happened!

The first 5-shot group on this setting (power set on max, starting fill pressure at 2,600 psi and shooting the 35.8-grain domed Eun Jin) measures 1.177 inches. Four of those shots are in 0.555 inches! That’s fantastic! I don’t have the velocity data for this pellet on that setting, but I’ll venture a guess it’s producing around 60-70 foot-pounds.

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin domed pellet group 1
Now, we’re cooking! Five Eun Jin domes went into 1.177 inches at 50 yards, with 4 of them making a 0.555-inch group! This is fantastic, but can I do it again?

Like you, I wondered if this single group was just a fluke, so I filled the reservoir to 2,600 psi, again, and shot a second group. This time, I put 5 into 1.089 inches. Three of those pellets are in 0.214 inches. If you overlay those 3 pellets on top of the other group, they all go to the same place!

Air Force Escape rifle Eun Jin domed pellet group 2
Here’s the miracle I was talking about. Same starting air pressure, and 5 pellets went into 1.089 inches. Three of them are in 0.214 inches and in the same place as the 4 pellets from the last group. This is significant!

What I’m saying is that somewhere around this power setting and fill pressure, there’s a super sweet spot the Escape loves with this domed pellet. By spending more time refining the fill pressure and by adjusting the sights for this combination, the Escape will become a tackdriver. It doesn’t get a lot of shots like this, but remember — this is a survival rifle. You want one shot — one kill. I think this gives that to you!

I could continue to refine my pressure settings with this pellet, but I don’t think I have to. I’ve now shown you 2 different ways the AirForce Escape can make very small groups at 50 yards. If you’re looking for a powerful air rifle to do some serious hunting, you should consider this one. I think Ton Jones and John McCaslin both have reason to be proud of their creation.

What’s next?
I was prepared to exchange barrels at this point and try the .22-caliber Escape, but I think I’ll let that slide for now. If I’m any judge, most buyers are going to get the .25-caliber Escape. Once they see these results, I expect they’ll do similar tests. Therefore, I plan to switch over to the EscapeUL next. That’s the ultralight rifle that has an 18-inch barrel. I’ll give you a combined introduction and velocity/power report, followed by a range test like this.

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