Posts Tagged ‘Weihrauch’

Beeman HW 70A air pistol: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Beeman HW 70A air pistol
Beeman’s HW 70A breakbarrel spring pistol.

Remember that I said I would return and do another accuracy test of the Beeman HW 70A pistol because I didn’t test the best pellet seated? I felt a little guilty about missing that; but after my wife, Edith, got done with me, I felt really guilty. Good job, Edith!

Today is a revisit to see the effects of deep-seating the best pellet, which you may recall was the Beeman H&N Match. The other two pellets I shot last time aren’t in the running, so they don’t get retested.

However, a reader commented that his HW 70A really likes the JSB Exact RS dome, so that one got tested, too.

Several readers described their pistols as very accurate. One person even said his was a tackdriver. That really drives me nuts because of the results I’m getting. And I’m a good pistol shot — plus, I’m shooting the gun rested! I ought to be there with the best of you, but up to this point I’m not.

Beeman H&N Match
This was the best pellet in the first accuracy test, so this is the one I started with. And I started with the deep-seated pellets. I’m using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater, and the adjustment hasn’t changed since the last time, so everything is equal.

The first group was pretty poor. I thought I’d forgotten how to shoot because it looked nothing like the group of flush-seated pellets from the last time.

Beeman HW 70A air pistol Beeman H&N Match deep-seated
Ten deep-seated Beeman H&N Match pellets made this 1.532-inch group at 10 meters.

That prompted me to try a group of the same pellets seated flush. You will remember in Part 3 that, when these were seated flush, 10 of them made a 1.085-inch group. This time 10 flush pellets went into 1.067 inches. That’s pretty close to the last time, and very persuasive that flush-seating is what this pellet likes!

Beeman HW 70A air pistol Beeman H&N Match flush-seated
Ten flush-seated Beeman H&N Match pellets made this 1.067-inch group at 10 meters. That’s close to what they did the last time.

JSB Exact RS
Next I tried some JSB Exact RS domes — just to see if I could duplicate what a blog reader reported. Lo and behold, I did! As I was shooting, I could see that the group didn’t seems to be growing, and I had a sense that the pistol was drilling the target. As you can see, it was doing exactly that! Ten pellets in 0.761 inches at 10 meters. I wouldn’t call it a tackdriver, but it’s the next best thing.

Beeman HW 70A air pistol Beeman JSB Exact RS flush-seated
Ten flush-seated JSB Exact RS pellets made this 0.761-inch group at 10 meters. Pretty good!

Next, I was going to try the same pellet seated deep, but that’s when I saw that the barrel was flopping from side to side at the breech! Oh, no! All that work for nothing!

Fortunately, this pistol has a pivot bolt that can be both tightened and also locked in position with a jam screw. However, I didn’t have time to do that because I was crashing on tests to put in the bank for my trip to see my friend Mac.

When I return from my trip, I’ll tighten the breech and rerun this entire test — plus shoot the RS pellet deep-seated. So, there’s fifth part coming.

Beeman HW 70A air pistol: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Beeman HW 70A air pistol
Beeman’s HW 70A breakbarrel spring pistol.

Today you get a twofer. Or at least it will be more than just one test, as I’m starting to test a second product with today’s accuracy test of the Beeman HW 70A pellet pistol. The other product I’m testing is the EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols. Because it did play a pivotal part in today’s test, let’s begin with it.

EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols
The EyePal is a soft patch that’s applied to prescription or safety glasses to provide an aperture for the sighting eye. This concept is close to a century old, and many of the veteran readers will remember the Merit adjustable iris that had a suction cup to attach to glasses. The Merit was adjustable, so the aperture you looked through was controlled by the user. The EyePal is not adjustable. In the Master Kit I’m evaluating, there’s one soft patch for handguns and another for rifles. They have different sized holes, and the handgun patch that I used in today’s test has the slightly larger hole. The lids on the boxes and the patches themselves are color-coded so you know what each one is.

EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols
The EyePal Master Kit contains an eyepatch for pistols and another for rifles.

EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols pistol patch
The pistol eyepatch has gold lettering.

EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols rifle patch
The rifle eyepatch has white lettering, and the hole is slightly smaller than the pistol eyepatch hole.

EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols pistol patch on safety glasses
The EyePal patch attaches by just laying it on the surface of the glasses (safety or prescription) and rolling it flat.

I won’t report on the EyePal as a separate item because I need to use it more than a few times to get comfortable with how it works. So, very much as I reported on the Winchester Airgun Target Cube over several tests that spanned many months, I will do the same with the EyePal.

I’ve tried the Merit accessory in the past and found it to be quite difficult to position. Also, as it aged, the rubber suction cup that held it to the glasses hardened and became less pliable — to the point that it eventually stopped working.

The EyePal patch, in sharp contrast, attaches easily and can be removed just as easily, though it does have to be pried up at one corner before it comes off. I find that it’s very intuitive to use the first time and that repositioning it is simple and needs no explanation.

Shooting the HW70A
Now, it’s time for the test. I found myself faced with a number of test variables, so I decided to test all of them with the first pellet, and then use the best result from those tests for the other pellets. The first pellet was the RWS Hobby. The test was a rested pistol held in two hand at 10 meters. I used standard 10-meter air pistol targets.

When I say I shot the pistol rested, I mean that both my arms rested on a sandbag. The pistol was held forward of the bag, so it never touched them to set up a variable recoil reaction. I kept both hands in the same place on the pistol for each shot.

The variables
I had to test this pistol under the following circumstances:

* Pellet seated deep and EyePal worn
* Pellet seated flush and EyePal worn
* Pellet seated flush and prescription glasses worn with no EyePal
* Pellet seated flush and no prescription glasses worn with no EyePal

The 4 targets for the first part of the test are shown below. I used RWS Hobby pellets every time for these 4 targets. After you look at the results, I’ll critique them and tell you what I found.

Beeman HW 70A Hobby Target 1
Hobbys were deep-seated and EyePal was worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 1.522 inches between centers.

Beeman HW 70A Hobby Target 2
Hobbys were seated flush and EyePal was worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 1.863 inches between centers. The large central group within this group made me think this was the best group of Hobbys.

Beeman HW 70A Hobby Target 3
Hobbys were seated flush and EyePal was not worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 1.953 inches between centers.

Beeman HW 70A Hobby Target 4
Hobbys were seated flush and prescription glasses were not worn. Group measures 1.953 inches between centers. I know that sounds too coincidental, but that’s what it measures.

Critique
First, I have to tell you the EyePal did make the front sight appear sharp when glasses alone did not. However, without glasses, the front sight appeared just as sharp as with the EyePal. What I did not know until I measured all the groups for this report was that deep-seated pellets measurably outshot all flush-seated pellets. That was a surprise; and if the Hobby pellet was the only one I used, I would re-run this test. But as you’ll soon see, I don’t have to.

The next thing I discovered is that the Hobby pellet wasn’t a good fit for this gun. These groups do not show what the HW 70A can do. However, this does illustrate an important point. By staying with the same pellet and varying other things, it didn’t really matter that the pellet wasn’t the best. I was still able to compare the effects of the other variables by staying with the same pellet.

Next, I must say that the trigger that I liked in Part 2 isn’t as crisp as I would like it to be. It has a very mushy, indistinct pull and release comes as a surprise every time. While that sounds good, it actually isn’t because the trigger can go off before you’re ready.

The bottom line for the first test is that deep-seated pellets and the EyePal on prescription glasses produced the best results. However, I did not pick up on that during the test, and shot all the other groups with the EyePal and flush-seated pellets.

Test 2: 3 other pellets
Next, I shot the pistol with Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets. The group measured 2.163 inches between centers and was clearly not in the running for this pistol.

Beeman HW 70A Premier lite target
Premier lites were seated flush and EyePal was worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 2.163 inches between centers. It looks like only 9 pellets were fired, but they were counted carefully and there were 10. Not a pellet for this air pistol.

Then, I tried 10 Beeman H&N Match pellets. Bingo! This was the pellet I was looking for. Ten made a 1.085-inch group that’s very round and unifirm.

Beeman HW 70A Beeman HNMatch target
Group measures 1.085 inches between centers. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! This is the accuracy I expected from this pistol.

Because the H&N Match pellets did so well, I also tried RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. For them, I adjusted the sights back to the center of the bull. They didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, grouping in 1.18 inches. While that’s the second-best group of the test, the H&Ns are clearly better this time.

Beeman HW 70A RWS R10 target
Group measures 1.18 inches between centers. It’s a possible second good pellet, but more testing is needed.

Final evaluation
For those who keep score, I shot this pistol 70 times in this test. I was concerned about getting tired, but the best two groups were the last two. So, I think I gave it a fair evaluation. However, I do admit that the best method of loading is deep-seating pellets, and I didn’t use that on the most accurate pellets. I’m going to come back and do a part 4. It’ll be at 10 meters, again, and only Beeman H&N Match pellets from this test will be used along with several new target pellets.

Beeman HW 70A air pistol: Part 2

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

Part 1


Beeman’s HW 70A breakbarrel spring pistol.

Okay, there’s some interest in this Beeman HW 70A, but many of you have avoided it like I have. Let’s see what it can do.

First, the cocking effort. HW advertises 21 lbs., however the test pistol registered 27 lbs. on my bathroom scale. While that may not sound like a lot, remember this is a close-coupled pistol, so there’s no long lever like you have on a breakbarrel rifle. So, 27 lbs. does feel like a lot.

The trigger-pull, on the other hand, is very light. The test pistol releases at just 2 lbs., 3 ozs. And that’s after I adjusted it to be heavier. I’d gotten it so low that it surprised me when it went off. That felt too dangerous; but where it is now feels pretty good.

Premier 7.9-grain domes
The first pellet to be tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. It averaged 371 f.p.s., and the spread went from a low of 364 to a high of 381 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates an average 2.43 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

RWS Hobby
Next up was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. As light as they are, I expected Hobbys to be the speed demons of the bunch, but they weren’t. Hobbys averaged just 363 f.p.s., with a spread that went from 354 to 372 f.p.s. At their average velocity, Hobbys produced 2.05 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Beeman H&N Match
The last pellet I tested was the Beeman H&N Match pellet. This wadcutter weighs 8.18 grains and was the heaviest pellet I tested. The average nuzzle velocity was 383 f.p.s. — making this not only the heaviest but also the fastest of the 3 pellets tested. The range went from 371 to 395 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 2.67 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

I was puzzled
After testing these 3 pellets, I was puzzled about the velocity claims of 440 f.p.s. by the manufacturer. I thought that Hobbys would at least get close to that number, but as you can see, they were the slowest pellets of all, not to mention being the lightest. That made me wonder why they would be so slow. It seemed that they were also the pellet with the largest skirt, so maybe the gun was having difficulty overcoming the pellet in the breech. That’s when I thought about deep-seating each pellet with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater to see how it would change — if at all.

Deep-seated Hobbys now averaged 419 f.p.s. and the spread that had been 18 f.p.s. before was now down to just 9 f.p.s. The muzzle energy went up from 2.05 foot-pounds to 2.73 foot-pounds.

H&N Match also increased, but the difference was much less. After deep seating, they averaged 392 f.p.s. and generated 2.79 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The total spread dropped from 24 f.p.s. to just 7 f.p.s.

Even Premier lites increased from 371 to 380 f.p.s., bumping the muzzle energy to 2.53 foot-pounds. And the total spread dropped from 17 f.p.s. to just 8 f.p.s.

Deep-seating seems to help calm this gun down and also to boost velocities. I guess I’ll have to try it when I test the pistol for accuracy, as well.

Impression thus far
Though the velocity seems to be a little low, the firing behavior is smooth and positive. The pistol feels right when it fires, and I think it’s going to turn in some surprising accuracy. But we shall see.

Beeman HW 70A air pistol: Part 1

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

Beeman HW 70A air pistol
Beeman’s HW 70A breakbarrel spring pistol.

I’m about 19 years late on this report. The Beeman HW 70A air pistol was around in 1994 when I started writing about airguns, and I ignored it — finding other guns to occupy my time. I guess there are several reasons for that.

For starters, this pistol always looked large and rough to me. I never saw one of these guns close up in the early days, and I certainly never shot one; but I did see the BSF S-20 pistol that looked for all the world like a small air rifle — cut down and fitted to an outlandish wooden pistol grip. I projected that image onto the HW70, as in the catalog photos it looked very similar.

It was called just the HW 70 back in those days. The “A” designator was added to the model number when they put it into a synthetic black pistol grip that’s on the gun I’m testing for you now. And the size was mostly an illusion. This pistol is similar to a Crosman 2240 rather than the outlandish BSF S-20.

Beeman HW 70A air pistol with BSF S20 and Crosman 2240
Compared to the BSF S-20 (top) and the Crosman 2240 (bottom), the HW 70A doesn’t seem that big.

For those with a real collector bent, the automatic safety was added some time after the A model was already on the market — so the auto safety on the left side of the stock isn’t what makes it an A version. It’s the synthetic stock. There are A-version guns with synthetic stocks and no auto-saftety out there in collectorland, for those who obsess over minutia.

Beeman HW 70A air pistol safety switch
The automatic safety switch is on the left side of the stock.

Another turn-off for me was the anticipated cocking effort such a pistol was sure to require. I imagined cocking it would be like bending the bow of Hercules. I had also thought that about the big BSF and only discovered after getting one that the gun is relatively easy to cock. The HW 70A, on the other hand, does take some muscle power, and that can be attributed to its 6-inch barrel, which is rather short for a breakbarrel springer.

And, finally, I was concerned that the pistol would be very rough to shoot. When I got to shoot the BSF, its smoothness surprised me, but it’s nothing compared to this HW 70A. This is a very smooth air pistol!

Perhaps, that’s because the makers are not trying to send pellets downrange at the speed of light. The velocity specs of the .177 HW 70A have been 440 f.p.s. for as long as I’ve been writing about airguns. What it can really do is something we’ll discover together as I test this gun for you.

I know this — the HW70A is not usually the top air pistol on anyone’s list. Those who want power will gravitate toward the Diana RWS LP8 or the Beeman P1. Others wanting accuracy will go for the Beeman P17 or perhaps the IZH 46M. Almost nobody goes after the HW 70A as a first choice.

The pistol
This is a breakbarrel spring-piston air pistol that comes in .177 caliber, only. It weighs 2 lbs., 6 oz., and the grip is contoured to fit very well in medium to large hands. The grip/stock is black synthetic and checkered on both sides. The triggerguard is molded right into the stock.

Extensive use is made of aluminum in the construction of this pistol. The spring tube and outer barrel jacket are made of it, but the true barrel is a thin steel tube inside the outer jacket. The finish is a dark black epoxy that will fool everyone into thinking it’s black oxide, which is what we commonly call bluing. I only know that from an old Beeman catalog entry.

Most of what the hand touches on this pistol is cold metal, except for the grips. Even the sights that could be made from plastic are metal.

The pistol is very nearly 100 percent ambidextrous. The only feature that favors one side over the other is the safety switch that slides on the left side of the stock.

The barrel is held closed by a ball-bearing detent that allows the barrel to open easier, while still maintaining a tight seal when closed. It’s a classic means of locking the barrel when the pressure level doesn’t go too high.

Trigger
The trigger is two-stage and adjustable for pull weight. A screw in front of the trigger blade is turned to make the adjustment. It seems like the adjustment acts on a direct sear, apparently decreasing the sear contact area. Even if that’s not the case, though, I was able to adjust the trigger too light for safe operation. The second-stage stop disappeared, and I had a trigger that was guesswork instead of positive; so, I adjusted it back to where it had been from the factory, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

The trigger blade is wide and smooth. It’s made of aluminum, which will appeal to many shooters.

Sights
The sights are thankfully NOT fiberoptic! The rear sight is fully adjustable. Elevation has crisp detents, but windage has none, nor is there a scale for reference. You just have to watch where the notch is and where it moves when you adjust it.

The front sight is a very sharp, square post that fits very well into the rear notch. It’s covered by a steel hood to protect the hands when cocking.

Accuracy
The Beeman catalog used to claim this pistol could group 5 shots in 0.32 inches at 10 meters. I’ll test that when we get to the accuracy report. The gun is not scopeable by normal means, but at one time Beeman sold a special model called the Black Arrow that did come scoped. It had a proprietary scope mount that replaced the rear sight, but it’s no longer available.

That doesn’t matter to me because I would only shoot a handgun like this with open sights anyway. But some shooters want to scope even their handguns, so they need to know that this one can’t be scoped.

I’m looking forward to testing this airgun — I have been for nearly two decades. It’s time to hear the fat lady sing!

And now for something completely different
Pyramyd Air is looking for a manager for their tech department. This position was posted on the blog several weeks ago, but they’re still looking. If you’re interested, please apply. Below is the job info and where to send your resume.

Directs and coordinates activities of the department in providing customers technical services and support; directly supervises employees. Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

Coordinates technical support services between management, tech support staff, sales department, and customers.

Establishes and documents department procedures and objectives.

Accomplishes department objectives by selecting, orienting, training, assigning, coaching, counseling, and disciplining employees; communicating job expectations; and monitoring performance.

Maintains and improves support operations by monitoring staff and system performance, identifying and resolving problems, and preparing and completing action plans

Provides technical assistance to customers and labor quotes. Handles escalated calls or provides assistance requiring more complex issues.

Installs common accessories and kits in accordance with customer orders.

Performs tests on guns to determine advertised performance specifications.

Required experience, skills and background:

Bachelor’s degree and 3 years managerial experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience required. Previous industry experience required.

Must be detail-oriented with good mechanical aptitude.

Ability to prioritize and multi-task.

Good communication and customer service skills.

Good computer skills.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9am until 5:30pm; longer hours and some Saturdays are expected, especially during our busy peak periods.

Preferred experience, skills and background:

Previous experience in airgun repair or troubleshooting desired.

Send your resume to resumes@pyramydair.com

B.B.’s Christmas gift suggestions for 2012: Part 2

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

Part 1

Okay, today I want to try to finish my 2012 gift list.

Pneumatic air rifles
I have to list the Benjamin 392 and 397 rifles. Even though the price is rising steadily on them, they both still represent some of the best values in the airgun market. I’m specifically not recommending the Blue Streak because it’s now the virtual twin of the other two rifles, and I feel that its .20 caliber limits the availability of premium pellets too much.

Benjamin 392 multi-pump pneumatic air rifle
Benjamin 392 and 397 multi-pump pneumatics

The M4-177 is another great multi-pump gun. It’s not as powerful as the first two, but it’s even more accurate at short ranges. If you want a cheap target rifle, this could be the one!

Crosman M4-177 multi-pump pneumatic air rifle
Crosman M4-177 multi-pump pneumatic

What about CO2?
Don’t I have any CO2 recommendations? Well, I have just one, and it’s not cheap. The Walther Lever Action Rifle is a copy of the Winchester 1894 lever action that the world knows so well. It’s an 8-shot repeater that can take a scope, if you need one, but in my opinion deserves to be used as it comes — with open sights! This rifle is slick to operate and deadly accurate at close range (to 25 yards). It isn’t a hunting airgun; but for shooting targets or just plinking, there aren’t many better — especially repeaters.

Walther Lever Action Rifle
Walther Lever Action rifle

Beeman P17 single-stroke pneumatic air pistol

Beeman P17 single-stroke pneumatic air pistol

Pistols, too
Let’s look at some pistols for a moment. I must include the Beeman P17 single-stroke pneumatic on this list because it delivers several hundred dollars of value in a $40 package. Yes, it’s made in China, but it’s so close to the Weihrauch HW40 PCA that costs $200 more (sold by Pyramyd Air as the Beeman P3) that Weihrauch repairs them in Europe under their warranty. Hans Weihrauch, Jr. told me he has to stand behind the gun because everyone thinks of it as something he makes! How’s that for copying?

IZH 46M single-stroke pneumatic target pistol

IZH 46M single stroke pneumatic target pistol

Another air pistol that made my list is the IZH 46M single-stroke pneumatic target pistol. It’s accurate, powerful and easy to pump. It’s on the heavy side, so some shooters may not be able to hold it in one hand. Besides that, there’s a lot going for this air pistol. It has one of the nicest triggers you’ll every find — short of a real world-class target air pistol.

Beeman P1 spring pistol

Beeman P1 spring pistol

The Beeman P1 spring pistol has so much going for it that it deserves to be on my list. It’s accurate, powerful and has a wonderfully adjustable trigger. Although it comes in three calibers (.177, .20 and .22), I can only recommend the .177 because I think it’s perfect for the power level of the pistol.


Other stuff

Ballistol

Ballistol

How about some stuff that isn’t an airgun? It’s stuff you also need.

Let’s start with Ballistol. This stuff is so useful that I’m planning to do a whole blog about it. Removing rust is just one of its handy tricks. I have so many uses for Ballistol these days that I don’t know what life would be like without it. My friend Mac had his house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore flood a couple months ago, and water got into all three of his gun safes through the holes in the bottom of the safes that are used for anchor bolts. All of his firearms and airguns sat in several inches of water for a straight week, yet there wasn’t one sign of water damage on any stock, nor was there any rust on any gun! How’s that for a Ballistol testimonial?

Crosman Pellgunoil

Crosman Pellgunoil

The most popular cleaning and maintenance product at Pyramyd Air is Crosman Pellgunoil. Readers of this blog have witnessed hundreds of old guns rescued by its application over the years. At least you have if you get all the comments sent to you. This stuff is magical! I fixed the neighbor kid’s Daisy 880 a week ago with it! If you shoot CO2 or multi-pump pneumatic guns, you need this stuff!

JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound

JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound

Another cleaning product that almost every airgunner will eventually need is a jar of J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. Only those who shoot guns with brass barrels don’t need this product to clean their bores. You know that I use it on new guns to simulate a long break-in, and it does work for that. I also use it to scrape copper fouling from the bores of my centerfire rifles. Benchrest shooters use the stuff, so it’s got to be pretty good!

Dewey 177-caliber 26" coated cleaning rod

.177-caliber Dewey 26" coated cleaning rod

I won’t put brass bore brushes on my list, but they’re wonderful if you need them. But I will put what they go on — a .177-caliber Dewey 26″ coated cleaning rod. I used to buy el-cheapo rods that were made in sections. They were aluminum, so of course they bent and their threads stripped with use. Then, one day at AirForce Airguns, while I was cleaning a couple hundred Lothar Walther barrels that had just returned from the bluer, I suddenly realized that the rod I was using — a Dewey — had cleaned a good many thousand airgun barrels by my hand, and who knows how many before me? And, although it was slightly bent and showed some age, this rod was still going strong. My aluminum rods would have given up many times doing the same work. That was the day I became a believer in the Dewey solid cleaning rod. I linked to the .177/.20 caliber rod, but you also need one for your .22 and .25-caliber guns. Like pellet traps and chronographs, this is a bullet you bite if you’re a shooter.

ATK Weaver Gunsmith 36-piece Tool Kit

ATK Weaver Gunsmith 36-piece tool kit

One more thing I won’t do without is my ATK Weaver Gunsmith 36-piece Tool Kit. I actually have six or seven similar kits because the smaller blades do break with use. But when you need that perfect screwdriver to fit a screw on a very expensive gun, nothing else will do.

Well, that’s my list for this year. I hope this has been of some use to you, because it’s one of the most tedious reports to write and create. These are all things that I would recommend to you personally if you asked. I’ve used and/or tested everything on this list, and I believe they’ll satisfy you exactly as advertised.

To all new airgunners

by B.B. Pelletier

As I write this report, Edith is sitting on the couch, reading and approving customer reviews of airguns. It’s a lazy Sunday morning, and we generally try to work on things that are easy on such days. She just made this remark to me while reading another customer review, “People want powerful hunting air rifles that cock with 20 lbs. of effort or less. Isn’t that called a precharged pneumatic?”

That was what came to my mind the minute she announced what people want. But experience tells us that it isn’t what’s on the new airgunner’s mind. They want a spring rifle, because they want nothing to do with all the extra stuff that’s needed to keep a PCP running. They just want to cock the gun, load a pellet and shoot. And many of them wonder why this springer can’t be a repeater, as well.

The question that’s often asked
Surely “they” could make a powerful spring-piston air rifle if they wanted to. All they have to do is make one that will go at least 900 f.p.s. [or whatever number seems best to them] in .22 caliber with real-world lead pellets and cocks with 20 lbs. or less. If they would make a rifle like that, I would be first in line to buy one.

Don’t you think “they” have been busily trying to do just that for the past 100 years? From the first moment someone cocked a spring-piston rifle (or pistol) that was a couple of pounds too heavy for them, they started thinking about designing exactly the rifle our hypothetical new airgunner has requested. And they haven’t done it, yet!

But there have been several good attempts. John Whiscombe, for example, broke the cocking sequence down to two or even three pulls of the underlever to cock his dual-opposed piston rifles. Owners of his rifles have not one but two coiled mainsprings to cock; and their efforts, while not quite doubled, have to be increased significantly. Which is why Whiscombe broke the cocking effort into two and even three strokes of the lever. The gun cannot be cocked with fewer strokes. If you try, it will remain in a limbo of a partially compressed set of mainsprings that cannot be relaxed, because they’re held in check by the safety mechanisms. So, a Whiscombe owner can’t cock his JW80 just two strokes for reduced power. It’s three strokes or nothing.

Rutten of Belgium used a small, high-torque electric motor to cock their spring-piston rifle with just the push of a button. Wonderful, you say, except now you’re tethered to the power grid, because the rifle cannot be cocked any other way than by its motor. And when you do push the button, prepare for the sound of an impact wrench for a couple seconds, because that little motor raises quite a ruckus! That rifle sold under the Browning name several years ago, and the reception, once people saw how it actually worked, was chilly at best. So much so that there are still a considerable number of Browning-trademarked new-old-stock rifles that float to the surface every so often, as yet another person wonders, “Why not?”

One approach that did work well is employed by Weihrauch in their HW45 air pistol that also sells under the name Beeman P1. The way it works is that you cock the barrel to the first detent (sear catch) for low power and to the second detent for high power. The cocking force remains approximately the same for both power levels. All that’s different is the length of the piston stroke. It works very well, and I wonder why manufactures are not using it on a rifle today. What’s apparently lost to many airgun manufacturers is that the power of the mainspring contributes very little to the power of the gun. What matters most is the piston stroke. Many springs do stack (increase) in force the farther they’re compressed, but that’s not a universal rule. It’s possible to make a spring that provides a near-uniform force throughout its compression, as Weihrauch has done in the HW45.

Back to the question
We’re discussing why nobody makes a powerful spring-piston air rifle that also has a very light cocking effort. This is a question that many new airgunners ask, not realizing that physics stand in the way. A pellet fired from a spring-piston gun produces only a fraction of the power generated by the mainspring, so that’s the limiting factor. Making the mainspring more powerful is the brute-force way of making a gun more powerful, and it’s the practice that’s in vogue today.

What about a gas spring?
One question that often follows the main one is why wouldn’t a gas spring (gas strut, gas ram) work? To understand why it wouldn’t, you have to shoot a gun that has one. Gas springs exert their full potential from the instant you start cocking them. So, instead of a gun that requires 34 lbs. of cocking effort but starts out at 15 lbs. at the beginning of the cocking arc where the leverage is poorest and you’ll need all the help you can get, the gas spring has 34 lbs. of effort right from the start. Gas springs are never easier to cock than coiled steel mainsprings — they’re always harder, or at least they’re perceived as harder because of how they work.

Where does that leave us?
If you want real power from a pellet rifle and you also want the rifle to be lightweight and easy to cock, the precharged pneumatic is the only way to go. No spring gun ever made can keep up with a PCP in the weight and ease of cocking departments. A Benjamin Discovery weighs just over 5 lbs., yet in .22 caliber it puts out the same power as an RWS Diana 48 that weighs 3.5 lbs. more and cocks with 10 times the effort. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know about the AirForce air rifles, some of which will produce as much muzzle energy as a .22 short, with long-range accuracy that not even a $3,000 Olympic target rifle can match.

My message to new airgunners
The question that you have asked is the same one that’s been asked by airgunners for decades. It’s not that airgun manufacturers have overlooked anything or that they’re holding back, like the inventors of the 100-mile-per-gallon carburetor did in the 1960s. They’re stuck on the physics of the problem. You can’t get more work (foot-pounds of energy) from a shot than the force that’s put into the shot. With a spring-piston airgun powerplant, you’ll get significantly less energy out than you put in.

Can things be done to reduce the cocking effort? Maybe. Has everything been tried? Perhaps not. But if you want to get the greatest power from a light air rifle that cocks easily, you definitely want a PCP — not a springer!

Air Arms TX200 Mk III air rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier


Air Arms TX200 Mark III air rifle is impressive in its optional walnut stock.

I’ve reviewed this rifle before, but it’s been a long time and many of you are asking about it again, plus I’m going to look at the Benjamin MAV 77 later this year, and I promised a comparison with this rifle. So, for those reasons, I decided that it’s time to look at the Air Arms TX200 Mark III, again.

Some of you may know that Bill Sanders, the managing director of Air Arms, passed away recently. Bill was very uncharacteristically enthusiastic about all the guns he made. I say that because most principals in this industry are not shooters, nor do they own the guns they make. But Bill did, and he also knew how to use them. Maybe that’s why, in the more than 20 years the TX has been around, the quality has only gone up.

History
The TX200 came about in the late 1980s as an improvement on the design of the HW77, which was considered the best spring rifle around at the time. The first model was simply called the TX200. But after several years, Air Arms added a ratcheting catch to hold the sliding compression chamber from slamming closed during loading. That rifle was called the Mark II. I bought one and competed with it in field target for a couple of years, until I switched over to a PCP. My rifle was tuned first by Jim Maccari and then by Ken Reeves so I could write about each of the tunes. In truth, the TX was pretty smooth right out of the box, but the Reeves tune did make it just a bit smoother.

When the TX200 Mark III came out, I bought one to test for The Airgun Letter. I found that rifle to be just as smooth as the Reeves-tuned Mark II, plus it had a shrouded 9-inch barrel, which made it very quiet, to boot. I didn’t need two perfect guns, and the Mark II was sold. I still have the Mark III, which is the gun I’m testing for you here.

I recently had the opportunity to shoot a brand-new Mark III, and I see that the performance and looks of the gun are unchanged, except for better checkering on the new model. Instead of diamonds, they now have a fish-scale pattern that usually comes only on very costly guns.

Hump-backed look for high-tech design
When Beeman Precision Airguns started selling TX200 air rifles in the U.S., the first thing I noticed was that the rifle had a definite hump-backed profile. Why? Remember I said the barrel is 9 inches long? Guess what? All the science you have been reading about on this blog really works. And Air Arms applied it to its maximum in the TX200.

They put the center of the barrel in the center of the compression chamber, so the air transfer port aligns with the bore. That gives the most efficient airflow, but it also means the barrel, which is a smaller diameter than the spring tube, has to be mounted lower than the top of the spring tube. Hence, the hump-backed profile. Study the first photo, and you’ll see what I mean. Look at the place where the barrel connects to the spring tube. On most other guns, they’re level.

A 9-inch barrel prevents friction from slowing the pellet after it’s accelerated to maximum velocity. A spring-piston gun develops maximum velocity in the first 6-9 inches of barrel. After that, the pellet is just coasting. The baffled shroud that houses the short barrel is much longer and gives the appearance of a bull barrel, hence the barrel length is often listed as longer than it really is.

Air Arms has used everything that’s known about spring-piston guns to wring the maximum performance from a relatively short stroke and small piston bore. They do it without fanfare, but anyone who works on spring guns knows what they’ve done.

The rifle
The TX200 Mark III is an underlever spring-piston rifle that has a sliding compression chamber. The chamber slides back, giving access to the rear of the barrel for loading. Then it slides forward again, once the anti-beartrap latch is held down. The old Mark II has many stops in the ratchet, causing it to click loudly when cocked. Shooters objected to that noise. The Mark III has just three notches and is much quieter.

All metal parts, except the trigger and safety button, are highly polished and deeply blued, resulting in one of the finest finishes in the airgun world. The standard stock is beech, but the wood is shaped very sharply for either a right- or left-handed shooters. No compromise here. Fish-scale checkering roughens both grip panels and the forearm. The optional walnut stock is a good choice because it subtracts weight from the gun as well as adding interest. Blog reader Jerry got a walnut stock on his TX, and it looks very similar to the rifle pictured above.


The stock is sharply profiled with crisp edges and a classic shape. The standard beech stock is shown.


The long lever, located behind the silver sliding compression chamber, is the beartrap release. After cocking, this lever is held down to close the sliding chamber, as the cocking lever returns to the stored position.

The trigger
The TX trigger is not just an improved Rekord, it’s a new design that offers greater flexibility when adjusting, so you can get the pull weight and release down to a finer, lighter value than with a standard Rekord.


The TX trigger closely resembles the Rekord, but it’s simpler and more adjustable. The larger parts are machined.

Years ago when Ivan Hancock was still building airguns, I bought one of his Mach II trigger, which are handmade copies of the TX trigger to replace the Rekord unit in my Beeman R1. That trigger cost half as much as the entire rifle, but it was very finely adjustable. The current trigger in my TX200 is the standard one that comes with the rifle, yet it’s just as fine. When I report on its performance, I think you’ll be surprised.

Several “truths” negated
The success of the TX200 reminds me of a friend who built engines for Formula Vee racing. Those cars look like Formula 1 racers, but they’re much slower. However, this builder’s engines were always in demand because they out-performed the others. Everybody was always looking for his “secret.” The secret, of course, was that there was no secret! What he did was pay scrupulous attention to detail when building his engines. All parts were balanced to the last gram, and all tolerances and torque specifications were followed. The engines were what racers refer to as blueprinted, and that, alone, gave them their edge.

Well, you may think of a TX200 as an air rifle that’s been blueprinted. The piston isn’t wide and the stroke isn’t long, yet the rifle develops remarkable velocity. The trigger appears dirt-simple, yet it can out-perform so-called “target” triggers in much more expensive guns. The mainspring isn’t under much pre-tension, yet the rifle doesn’t buzz when it shoots. Everything is just right.

Rolls Royce is the standard by which all cars are compared, and the TX200 is the standard for spring-piston air rifles. Even when the Whiscombe was being made, I used to say that the TX200 was its equal for accuracy.

It’s heavy!
Yes, this air rifle is heavy. Especially the model with the beech stock. But for its purpose, which is field target first and hunting second, the weight is ideal because it promotes stability.

It’s hard to cock!
It will seem hard to cock a TX if you’re used to a smaller rifle like a Diana 27. But compared to the current magnums, the TX cocks easily. How it feels depends on your experience. I’ll publish the cocking effort of mine in Part 2.

Accuracy
It has been several years since I shot my TX, so this is a chance to get behind the trigger, again. I expect to find a pellet that will give around 1/4- to 1/3-inch 10-shot groups at 25 yards. That’s a tall order for any spring gun, but we shall see!

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