Wait a minute, B.B.! This is supposed to be an historical article. How can you write about the Daisy 853? It’s still being made and sold today. Yes, it is, but this is still an historical report. Why? Because the Daisy 853 is more than just one 10-meter youth target rifle. It’s the rifle that started it all for American youth shooters!
Before the 853
Before the Daisy 853 the youth shooting programs in the U.S. were fractionalized. They did exist, but mainly they shot .22 rimfire target rifles at 50 feet. The arrival of the 853 unified the American youth shooting programs under the auspices of the National Rifle Association. The 853 was (and still is) an affordable target rifle that was/is sized for youth shooters.
I was going to report on several military trainers today and it dawned on me that maybe we don’t all think of them in the same way. What is a military trainer? Why do they exist? Or, do they have more than one purpose? Once we better understand what they are, my future reports will make more sense.
The first trainers
The earliest military trainers are probably the half-scale muskets that officers had custom-made for their sons. I mentioned this in an earlier report. They were smaller than the muskets they resembled, but very close copies. They existed for multiple purposes. First, they were to allow the boy to learn the manual of arms while holding something very heavy and real. Second, they allowed the boy to shoot with a suitably sized weapon. And finally, I believe these trainers were talismans that the fathers wanted their sons to get used to holding — like batons of office. Don’t overlook the importance of that. It’s like a cowboy father getting his son his first pair of working boots. It’s a small rite of passage.
This report is an unprecedented final look at how the point of impact (POI) changes when the power of a variable-power scope is changed. I linked to the 3 earlier reports in which this phenomenon was tested (it wasn’t tested in the first report of the Aeon scope, but I included it for continuity). The scope used in today’s report is different, so we will see whether that makes a difference to the results.
I had no intention of conducting this test, but then reader Silver Eagle asked this:
Can we try this same test with a airgun that does not have the variable pressure that a PCP has? An accurate springer such as a TX200 or similar would help narrow it down if it is the scope or the rifle.
Now that Vince has tuned the Sterling, it’s time to see how she shoots.
It’s time to see how the Sterling underlever rifle shoots. Benjamin put Lothar Walther barrels on these rifles, so I’m hoping the pedigree will show in today’s test. Vince got the velocity back up to a respectable level, as we saw in Part 3 (and Vince showed you what he did to the gun in his guest blog about the Sterling), so there should be nothing to prevent the gun from shooting its best.
When I went to mount a scope, I saw that the Sterling has two vertical holes that can be used for a scope stop. They’re located where the front ring needs to be, but with two-piece rings that presents no problem.
This is the second of my reports on the 2012 SHOT Show. There will certainly be at least one more after this, and perhaps even more, as there’s simply too much new information to pack into a single report.
The state of the airgun industry in 2012
Before I get to some specifics, I want to make a general observation. This year’s SHOT Show was different for me in a major way, because I saw for the first time that firearms shooters are beginning to understand airguns as never before. In the past, I always had to start my explanations with the cooling of the earth’s crust and then progress through the age of the dinosaurs because each firearms person I talked to thought of airguns as either toys or BB guns. This year, a lot of them were clued-in on what’s happening. They weren’t surprised by the accuracy we get, and they knew about big bores. A lot of them had some airgun experience and more than a few asked me the same kind of questions that I get from long-time readers of this blog.
The Sterling by Benjamin Sheridan is an air rifle not many have seen or even heard about.
Say hello to my little friend! We last saw this Sterling 11 months ago and discovered during testing that the velocity was very unstable. Variations of 61 to 147 f.p.s. were found in the 10-shot strings, even though the rifle had been recently tuned by reader Jim Grossman (Jim in PGH). Clearly, something seemed to be wrong. I stopped the test right there because I didn’t want to damage the mechanism, and I set it aside for later when I could I eventually look inside.
Well, our No. 1 tuner and all-around good guy — blog reader Vince — stepped forward and offered to have a look at it for me. He told me he’d worked on another Sterling, and I was relieved because I didn’t have to learn the complexities of yet another odd spring-gun mechanism. This one is odd because, in addition to the underlever that cocks the mainspring, the gun also has a bolt-action that opens the breech for loading a pellet. It’s quirky and unlike just about any other airgun you’ve seen.
One nice thing about watching a TV program is that it only takes an hour or less to view. You have no sense of the man-weeks of work that go into a short production on screen. Sometimes, the same thing happens in the world of airgun blogs.
I won’t say I’ve been dreading today’s report; but from past experience adjusting the HOTS on the Whiscombe rifle, I knew it might take longer than anyone could imagine to get a good result. It’s easy to say, “Adjust the HOTS for optimum performance with a certain pellet.” Actually doing it is where you discover if it’ll be easy or hard. The report I have for you today was very hard.