Posts Tagged ‘Winchester M14 air rifle’

Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Winchester’s new M14 dual-ammo rifle looks very much like the military rifle it copies.

Redemption is a powerful experience, because it comes only after suffering and anguish. Redemption is what I longed for with the Nelson Lewis combination gun and with my Ballard rifle. Today, however, I’m going to talk about another redemption — that of the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle.

In Part 1, we learned that this rifle is nearly all plastic — which for many, including me, is a put-off. We also learned that it uses two 12-gram CO2 cartridges instead of one, and that assaulted the the miser in all of us. Accuracy is the only thing that would make it worth the extra cost.

When we looked at the velocity in Part 2, we discovered that the rifle does not begin to achieve the advertised velocity of 700 f.p.s. That’s not a bad thing, except it leaves us disappointed from unrealized expectations. The velocity should prove high enough, though, as long as the rifle is accurate — which brings us to today’s test. Part 3 — accuracy day.

The Winchester M14 is both a BB gun and a pellet rifle, so I had to test the accuracy of both types of projectiles. BBs get tested at the standard 5 meters (just over 16 feet) distance, while pellets were shot at 10 meters. And each target got 8 shots instead of 10 because of the capacity of the circular clip at either end of the stick magazine. Trying to load just two more of anything in one of these clips is annoying and troublesome at the least.

So, it was BBs first, as they’re shot at the closer distance. I shot the rifle using Daisy zinc-plated BBs offhand at 16.5 feet.

I left the sights as they came out of the box. With a 6 o’clock hold, the first BB struck the target at the exact aim point, so I stopped checking and fired 7 more shots. This rifle is super-easy to shoot, as there’s nothing to do but pull the trigger. The cocking and advancement of the cylinder are all taken care of by the gun. And as light as the rifle is, it’s easy to hold it on target for all 8 shots.

After the clip was empty, I walked up to the target to see the results, which is when the word “redemption” came into my thoughts. The group is very round and measures 0.532 inches between centers! This is a group I might shoot with a Daisy 499 Champion — the world’s most accurate BB gun. I’ve never shot a group this small with any other long BB gun, that I can remember.

The first group of Daisy BBs made this dime-sized group at 5 meters. It measures 0.532 inches. Pretty encouraging!

What if it was just a fluke? What if the next 8 BBs went into a group twice the size? Only one way to find out. I shot a second group. This time, it was positively fun — as the confidence of an accurate gun poured over me! I adjusted the rear peep up three clicks and shot again.

The second group was easier to shoot because I now knew the gun was accurate. I only hoped I could repeat what had been done before. Alas, that didn’t happen, as the second group was smaller than the first. Eight shots went into a group measuring 0.472 inches!

This second group of BBs is even better! It measures 0.472 inches.

What now?
Here’s a BB gun that rivals the most accurate BB gun ever made! And this one has M14 sights that encourage target shooting. Look at the center of the second group. It’s just a little higher than group one, which is exactly how the sights were adjusted.

Now I moved back to 10 meters where I could shoot pellets from a rest. Again all the groups will have 8 pellets because of the mag capacity. The rifle was rested on a sandbag positioned under the forearm just in front of the magazine that hangs down. Although this rifle is very light, I found it to be very steady in the rested position, and the trigger-pull did not disturb the aim point.

The first pellet I tried was that champion of lower-powered spring guns — the JSB Exact RS that Kevin turned me on to. It struck the target higher than the BBs, but did not group very well. Eight pellets made a group measuring 1.384 inches between centers. That’s not good for 10 meters.

JSB Exact RS pellets blew up at 10 meters! Group measures 1.384 inches between centers.

I followed the JSB pellet with our new friend — the H&N Baracuda Green that we’re learning to love. As light as it is, I wondered if it might be suited to the lower power this rifle generates. Apparently it is, because 8 of them went into a tight group that measured 0.739 inches. This is only 10 meters; but if you look at this group, I’m sure you’ll see the potential the rifle promises.

H&N Baracuda Green pellets made this tight 0.739-inch group at 10 meters. You can see how tight it is. This shows real potential.

Next up were some H&N Match Pistol pellets. I chose them for no special reason, other than I am trying to mix up the pellets I usually test with. They printed a group that measures 0.694 inches between centers — so just a little smaller than the Baracuda Greens. The rifle just keeps on doing better!

H&N Match Target pellets made the best group of pellets, measuring just 0.684 inches at 10 meters.

The final pellet I tried was an RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. This pellet is among the best target pellets I have available, and I wanted to see what it could do in this rifle. The 8-shot group measures 0.722 inches across, so it’s between the Baracuda Greens and the H&N Match Pistol pellets.

This group of RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets is also very tight — at 0.722-inches.

Do you notice we have three groups that are very similar in size? I think the rifle is capable of this level of accuracy all day long, and perhaps there’s another pellet I haven’t tried that’s even better. The gun shoots easily and very much resembles a fine target rifle when I shoot it. The sights are easy to see, and very crisp, plus they seem to adjust with precision.

As I shot this rifle I thought of blog reader Matt61 and his new Garand. Here’s an apartment-sized airgun that he could use to keep his skills sharpened for those days when he can’t get out to the range with the large firearm.

I was also reminded of when I was a youngster, shooting the NRA’s beginner training course. There’s virtually no resemblance between this rifle and the Winchester 52, but the shooting experience seems so similar that it’s scary. I understand why all those customer reviews have praised the accuracy so highly, and also why they’ve forgiven the plastic and light weight for the most part. The Winchester M14 has redeemed itself in my eyes!

The last word
I used the Winchester Airgun Target Cube to stop the BBs and pellets fired in this test. Because this rifle shoots faster than 350 f.p.s., the cube was turned to the side for higher-velocity rounds. As before, the cube caught all BBs and pellets with no mess and nothing got through. I will continue to report on the performance of this cube backstop as I use it in future tests, with an eye to discovering just what it will take.

Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Winchester’s new M14 dual-ammo rifle looks very much like the military rifle it copies.

Let’s test the velocity of the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle. Of course, I’ll test it with both BBs and lead pellets. This rifle is a semiautomatic 8-shot repeater powered by 2 CO2 cartridges. Someone made a comment that referred to the rifle having blowback action, but I want to clear that up — it doesn’t. Yes, the action operates by CO2 power and really is semiautomatic; but no — there’s no sensation of blowback, and nothing moves when the rifle fires.

You do have to pull the “bolt” back to cock the rifle before the first shot. It’s not really a bolt — just a plastic cover to hide the metal internal parts of the firing mechanism. But the act of pulling it back is realistic.

The stick mag has an 8-shot rotary clip on each end. After firing 8 shots, you pop it out and reverse it for another 8. Then, you must reload the magazine. I see no reason why you can’t carry additional loaded magazines, as long as you take some care to keep them clean. They do have moving parts that affect their function, so these parts have to be able to move or the gun will jam.

BBs first
I tested the rifle with Daisy zinc-plated BBs first, and discovered that the rotary clips have a magnet inside to hold the BBs in place. Because the chambers in the clips are for .177 pellets, they’re too large for BBs — which are .173-caliber. But the magnets securely hold the BBs in place.

BBs averaged 560 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 546 to a high of 580 f.p.s. That’s a pretty broad spread for a CO2 gun. It’s also 140 f.p.s. slower than the advertised top velocity of 700 f.p.s., which surprised me, because the BBs are very light and are possibly the fastest projectiles this gun can shoot. This BB weighs 5.1 grains and generates 3.55 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, on average.

The stick mag dropped out of position two times during the test, which entailed just over 40 shots. I’ll chalk that up to my not seating it correctly for now, but it’s something I plan to watch as the test progresses. I note that there’s a click deep inside the gun that must be heard to know the magazine is seated correctly.

Now pellets
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS. As light as this domed pellet is, I felt it would compliment the power of this airgun well.

This 7.33-grain lead pellet averaged 519 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 507 to a high of 542 f.p.s. At the average velocity, it generated 4.39 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Next, I loaded RWS Hobby pellets. At just seven grains, I expected them to be the velocity champs among the pellets, but they turned in a disappointing average of 491 f.p.s. The spread, however, ranged from a low of 443 f.p.s. to a high of 532 f.p.s., indicating the gun was running out of gas. This was after fewer than 30 shots had been fired! Well, it’s possible that I shot it more times while writing Part 1 and just didn’t remember it.

I installed two new CO2 cartridges; and as the old ones were expelled, they both lost a lot of gas. The rifle was not firing at this point, so a lot of gas was being wasted. I kept track of each shot these new cartridges gave, so I could report the total shot count.

With the new cartridges in place Hobbys gave an average 549 f.p.s. The spread, though, was still very large, extending from a low of 507 to a high of 592. Since the first four shots also expelled a cloud of CO2 vapor, I know they were artificially higher than the average, which was more in the 520 f.p.s. region.

I don’t know what to make of these velocity numbers. Clearly, Hobbys were all over the place, depending on how new the CO2 cartridge was. I would guess their average is really closer to 520 f.p.s., which would give them an average muzzle energy of 4.2 foot-pounds.

I must also note that Hobbys were too large to seat in the chambers of the circular clip easily. I had to use the Air Venturi PellSet to get them into each chamber far enough for the clip to rotate freely. Perhaps, that might explain their erratic behavior.

The next pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome. These averaged 472 f.p.s. in the M14, and the velocity spread went from 457 to 482 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet averaged 3.91 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Trigger pull
I mentioned in Part 1 that I felt the trigger was close to a military pull. Well, it breaks at an average 6 lbs., 5 oz., so it’s just a little heavier than the standard 5-lb. military pull. The pull is a little creepy, but it’s not bad. I will probably have more to say about it after the accuracy test.

Shots per fill
We’re using two CO2 cartridges in this rifle. So how many shots does that give? I disregarded the early cartridge swap and started counting after the new cartridges were installed.

I got a total of 112 shots before feeling it was necessary to change the cartridge. That’s a good number for everything else this gun does. Let me tell you how it went.

I used mostly JSB Exact RS pellets for this test, so I could see where the power was at any given time. After the first 40 shots, the gun no longer shot above 500 f.p.s. It stayed around 470 until shot 88; but if several shots were fired quickly in a row without giving the gun time to warm up again, the velocity dipped down to almost 400 f.p.s. Stop shooting a minute, though, and it’s back to 470 with the RS pellet.

After shot 88, the rifle dropped below 400 f.p.s. for the first time and started slowing down. If 5 shots were fired rapidly the velocity at the end was only 312 f.p.s. After shot 104, the gun was always in the 300s. I stopped at shot 112 because I felt the gun could jam if I went too much farther. Shot 112 was fired after a minute’s pause and went 335 f.p.s.

Impressions so far
This rifle is turning out to be somewhat different than I thought at the beginning. It isn’t as consistent as I’d hoped. It suffers too much velocity loss from the cooling effect as the gun shoots. That will be expressed as vertical stringing on any targets. The best accuracy will come by pausing a minute between shots.

Accuracy is next. I am very curious as to what we will see.

Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Winchester’s new M14 dual-ammo rifle looks very much like the military rifle it copies.

I told you I would review the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle as soon as it came in. Well, the package arrived last week and today I’ll begin my report.

This M14 is able to fire both BBs and pellets from its 16-shot magazine. The mag is a long stick with an 8-shot rotating clip on either end. After 8 shots have been fired, the magazine has to be removed and inverted to position the next 8 shots.

The rifle is powered by two 12-gram CO2 cartridges that fit in an assembly that also holds the stick magazine. This entire assembly fits into a fixed box “magazine” that extends down from the bottom of the action and cannot be removed. The bottom of the gas assembly matches the fixed box and lengthens the overall magazine look. A hole in the bottom of the assembly allows the stick mag to be removed when it need to be inverted, and a small button in the fixed box releases just the stick mag.

This photo shows the stick mag protruding from the bottom of the gas assembly and the gas assembly coming out of the bottom of the fixed box that’s attached to the rifle. To remove the charged gas assembly, both a lever and a second button (located below the primary lever) must be pushed. The gas assembly comes out of the gun under pressure, so don’t do this unless it’s necessary!

The fact that the rifle uses two CO2 cartridges concerns me because they’re costly — more so than the pellets. Given the muzzle velocity of an advertised 700 f.p.s., I would expect to get 45-50 shots from a single cartridge, so I’m hoping to see at least 90 shots from this rifle before it’s time to replace the cartridges.

It’s a rifle!
I will cover loading the mag and charging the gun in Part 2. Right now, I want to continue to describe the rifle. First of all — it is, indeed, a rifle. It has a rifled steel barrel that can also tolerate steel BBs, so either ammunition can be safely used. When I do accuracy testing, I’ll test one type of ammo at a time. I don’t want to rush this test because so many readers have indicated an interest.

Lots of plastic
When I first took the rifle from its box, the term “plastic-y” immediately came to mind. Without the gas/magazine assembly installed, the rifle is very lightweight due to a hollow plastic stock and external parts made of mostly¬†plastic. The pull length seems about right, at 13-1/8 inches. And the shape and size of the stock seem the same as the M14 I remember — though I’m remembering something from 43 years ago.

In my opinion, the shape and realism of the airgun trumps the light weight and overly plastic nature. I learned to love the Crosman 1077, once it showed me accuracy that topped many premium European spring rifles. That’s what this Winchester has to do, too.

For those readers who are only familiar with the AR-style of rifle, this M14 has a far more conventional feel when you shoulder it. The AR pistol grip that’s too close to the trigger for almost every shooter is replaced with a more conventional pistol grip and reach to the trigger blade. And your cheek will find a nice resting spot on the broad buttstock instead of on some spindly tube. This is a feel I personally prefer.

The action and trigger
The box says this is a “semiautomatic.” And this time they’re right — it really is! Instead of a double-action revolver mechanism in disguise, this M14 really does operate semi-automatically. I don’t know how they managed it, but they put a pretty nice military trigger-pull into this rifle, too. Those two things plus the sights will put it over the top if it’s accurate.

The safety is exactly like the one on an M14, only almost everyone will be able to work this one with their trigger finger! It’s smooth and positive, yet requires very little pressure to move in either direction.

The sights are very correct, and if you’ve never experienced a Garand or M14/M1A, this air rifle provides a cheap way of seeing the same thing. And the rear peep sight is adjustable in both directions, exactly the same as military sights, with one exception. The windage knob on my test rifle is very stiff, and sometimes I have to help it by pushing the sight carrier to the right to free it for an adjustment. I think this will wear in. My fear is that it may also wear out, because all I can see and touch is plastic. I sure hope the detents inside the sight are steel.

The rear peep sight is close to an M14 rear sight. Garand owners will recognize it, as well. If this air rifle is accurate, this sight will make the package very desirable!

Anyone who has ever owned a Garand will love the ease with which the elevation on this Winchester adjusts. Once the sight is where you want it, though, it stays put.

There’s currently no possibility of mounting a scope on this rifle. And don’t try to equate it to a genuine M14 or Garand that can be scoped, because those guns have steel receivers to accept scope base screws. This rifle’s receiver is plastic, so there’s nothing to drill into to mount the base.

Don’t let that bother you, however, because this type of sight was one of the reasons the Garand was celebrated as the finest battle rifle of World War II. It’s easy to use and very precise. If this rifle is accurate, the sights will do nothing but compliment it.

The rifle comes with sling swivels, and I am glad that no sling was provided. I say that because the type of sling that would have been selected is a cheap black nylon strap with toy-like thinness. If you want a sling, get a real one! The sling swivels appear to be well-anchored and look like they will even tolerate a hasty sling hold. Former military will know what that means. The rest of you should look it up on the internet.

The bottom line
Many of you reacted to the realistic look of this gun and asked me to review it. I now have one in my hands and I’ve told you how it feels and looks in person. In spite of the toy-like feel of the gun, the M14 genes carry through strongly, and I can’t wait to shoot it. If it proves as accurate as it looks and feels, this will be a rifle that doesn’t go back to Pyramyd Air!

2012 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits

by B.B. Pelletier

The 2012 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, in St. Louis.

The NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits: it runs for three days instead of four, yet it out-attracts people 2:1 over the SHOT Show. The public can’t get into the SHOT Show except on the last day by buying a $50 ticket; but if you are an NRA member, you walk into the exhibit hall of the Annual Meetings for free. If you aren’t a member, they’ll give you a one-day dispensation for a small fee. And, unlike the SHOT Show, there are things to actually buy, as well as tons of guns to win in drawings — both free and paid.

Ostensibly, the reason for the event is the annual election of a new president and board members, but the main attraction are the exhibits. They’ve been described as a mini-SHOT Show, because most of the exhibitors are the same, though their booths are just a fraction of the size of the ones they have at SHOT. This show fits into about one-fifth the space needed for the SHOT Show, meaning that most major American cities can host it because they have civic centers adequate for the task — where the SHOT Show has grown to a size that just a few cities can handle it.

Airgun range
And at SHOT, people always complain that they don’t get to shoot the guns — well at least those who aren’t in the press don’t. But at the NRA Show, there’s an airgun range in the same building where, for a small fee, a family can try their skills with a number of popular airguns. Pyramyd Air hosts the airgun range and helps to staff it, though a platoon of NRA-certified instructors also serve as volunteer range safety officers.

For safety, every shooter on the airgun range sat and fired off a rest. A horizontal bar limited the guns from elevating too high.

Not all the shooters were kids! This lady experiences an Air Arms EV2.

Mac always tells me the SHOT Show is great for people-watching. At the NRA show, I’m under far less pressure and can watch people a lot more. It’s interesting to see them react with the brands that are second-nature to me. I might walk past a Rock River Arms booth full of all sorts of AR-15s and not turn my head, but at the NRA show I saw people lined up three deep with each of the company’s representatives. Those poor guys and gals got no rest because the entire time the show was open customers were tag-teaming them. As soon as one would leave, two more vied to be next. The same holds true at every booth at this show, because the public isn’t jaded like those in the industry. They may not see a display like this more than once in their lives, and they intend to get as much from it as they can! Try to imagine what happens to 70,000 kids in a candy store over a three-day event like this.

Another benefit of the NRA show is that it’s a second chance to see things I didn’t see at SHOT. Or perhaps things that weren’t present at SHOT but are there for the NRA show because it comes several months later in the year. This year, the special thing was two new airguns coming from Daisy — both under the Winchester name. One is a 16-shot BB and pellet rifle styled like an M14. It’s powered by two CO2 cartridges and holds both the CO2 as well as the BB/pellet clips inside a structure that looks like an M14 magazine. Joe Murfin, Daisy’s VP of marketing, told me the rifle gets up to 700 f.p.s. with BBs. This is definitely going onto the test list!

Daisy’s Joe Murfin holds the new Winchester M14. It’s rifled and shoots both BBs and pellets.

I also got to heft the new 1911¬†Winchester Model 11 CO2 pistol. Now, there’s a product with an identity crisis! The last time Winchester made a handgun was in the late 1800s — when they were trying to convince Colt to quit building lever-action rifles! It worked then, but I doubt that anyone even cares today. This new BB pistol is all-metal, heavy and features blowback action that shooters are going to love. And, like the 1911A1 firearm, it’s single-action only. This will be another one to test this year.

At the Umarex booth, I was surprised to learn that the beautiful new P38 Walther BB pistol is single-action, only. The P38 firearm was noteworthy for carrying a round in the chamber and being fired double-action for the first shot. After that, the blowback of the slide turned it into a single-action shooter with a much lighter trigger. But the new air pistol is going to be single-action, only. It’s certainly gorgeous to look at and is a heavy chunk in the hand. I suppose people will be willing to do without the double-action feature. I’ll probably test one to see how it does in the accuracy department.

One of the coolest sections of the whole show is the collectors’ row. Dozens of the finest collector clubs from around the country vie to amaze the public with some of the finest vintage firearms ever seen in one place. Some of these clubs are legendary — like the club from Ohio that actually invented the modern gun show 80 years ago. I’ve seen collectibles that are never seen outside of a museum, and no one museum can come close to the variety of models on display at the NRA show!

This Winchester 1873 One of One-Thousand is one of the five best examples known. It is worth at least in the high six figures, if not over a million dollars.

There were several glass cases filled with exquisite miniature arms such this 2mm pinfire revolver. The box it’s in is the size of a book of matches. Tools all have ivory handles. Made around 1860!

I stumbled on a kindred lover of old Ballard rifles in the collector’s section. We exchanged stories and information for half an hour, though he did most of the talking. I got some good pointers from him that I’ll soon try on my Ballard, and he steered me to Swiss black powder, for which I finally found a source in Texas! Soon, my old girl will be puffing the great blue clouds she was brought up on, and hopefully the groups will shrink accordingly.

Besides the collectors’ section, some of the older firms such as Colt displayed the guns of their past right in their booths. These are guns that they once made on a daily basis, but which have long since entered the history books. Imagine what it feels like to stand next to a real Gatling gun worth six figures and see the Colt name on its plaque — right where it has been since the indian wars!

A real 19th century Gatling gun by Colt — and you could walk right up to it!

Besides the exhibits, there were live musical performances, celebrities galore, workshops and seminars on everything having to do with the shooting sports — and bunches more. When you look at the crowd that attends these meetings, you realize that today’s NRA is heavily weighted toward successful people who make their own way in life. It’s no wonder both political parties regard the organization with respect; they’re the heart and soul of this nation.

I suspect this show broke the record for attendance, as the aisles were too crowded to walk most of the time. And the people were enthusiastic about being there. It was a real supercharged event that sapped me of my strength each day.

The show ended on Sunday, and we all returned to our workaday lives, enriched by the experience of the long weekend. I was never more tired than when I left the last time; but if everything goes right, I’ll return next year when it’s practically in my back yard — in Houston.

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