Postscripts Part 2
Finishing up at 45 feet
By Dennis Adler
The question with the Legends Cowboy Lever Action is how well it will perform now that it is sending steel BBs downrange at velocities of 645 fps and H&N Sport 5.25 gr. alloy pellets at a gong ringing 664 fps. But as we always have to ask, does increased velocity mean increased accuracy? Given the accuracy of the original test gun which was shooting in the high 450 fps range, and grouping 10 rounds at 10 meters into 1.25 inches, with a best five measuring 0.5 inches edge to edge, you have to wonder what an extra 200 fps is going to give this lever action rifle. I had originally planned on doing a test at 45 feet, but bad weather forced me to shoot indoors at 40 feet, and the gun shot well. Now with the higher velocity from the new off-the-shelf-production gun, the 45 foot test is what I’m after for this postscript to 2018.
The cold shoulder
There have been two types of weather this month, rain or snow and the rain just barely above freezing. Not exactly optimum temperatures for shooting CO2 powered guns. Today, it was a balmy 28 degrees with no wind and just a hint of sun (well not actually a hint, more of an innuendo). Dressed as one might in the Old West with double coats and heavy canvas trousers, I loaded up 20 pellet-firing shells with H&N Sport Match Green alloy pellets and decided to see what the gun could do at a distance of 45 feet pushing alloy wadcutters at over 650 fps. When you say that it sounds impressive, 650 fps with alloy wadcutters in a CO2 powered smoothbore rifle. Umarex may have been late on delivery, but they certainly delivered the gun we were hoping for, and I don’t see that the smoothbore barrel has let anyone down on performance or accuracy.
I set up a Birchwood-Casey sighting target and ran the gun test in short order keeping the cartridges and gun indoors and only stepping out into the cold to shoot. This is the same protocol I used in February 2018 when I did the test of CO2 pistol in the snow for Airgun Experience No. 234 and No. 235. Surprisingly all the test pistols did pretty well and I expected no less from the Cowboy Lever Action rifle with its enclosed dual 12 gr. CO2 system. After the test and having sent 20 shots downrange plus another six for sighting in, I ran a velocity check to see how fast the alloy wadcutters were still traveling. Thirty plus rounds in, the 5.25 gr. H&N were still averaging 648 fps.
My 45 foot test was shot in sets of five rounds and I ended up with a trio of doubles, two of which had overlapping hits, 13 out of 20 shots inside the center diamond, which has a width of 3-inches; five shots grouped above the diamond and two flyers that went to the right. My total 20-shot spread was 2.75 inches with the best 5-shot group at 0.75 inches above the diamond with one of the overlapping double hits. Not exactly precision shooting, but at 45 feet, every one would have hit a Cowboy Action Shooting metal plate square in the center. Not bad for a CO2 lever action rifle.
This is an addendum to the article originally published yesterday (Saturday) addressing a few fine points that have been brought up in the comments. There has been an issue with both 12 gr. CO2 cartridges not being pierced when the air chamber is sealed closed with the hex head tool. This has not happened with the original test gun or this gun on the first test, though I cut short the shooting and ran out the gun without counting total shots. On Saturday’s test the Lever Action was again sending alloy wadcutters downrange at an impressive 650 plus fps for most of the test. And that was where it concluded. Today (Sunday) I did a follow up 10 meter test with the H&N Sport 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters to run out the air. The velocity after 50 plus shots was still at 648 fps. My best 10 shot group fired offhand from 10 meters this afternoon measured 1.12 inches, however, the last two shots that opened up an otherwise very tight 0.625 inches for eight rounds, sounded slower and in fact the air ran out five shots later on another target as pellets began to hit low. That gave me a total of 65 rounds for the air supply in the gun. Accuracy was certainly very good as the air dropped right up until the end and of the eight rounds in the 0.625 inch group there were five at 0.5 inches. While this should be the end of the story, when I opened the CO2 chamber and removed the two 12 gr. CO2 cartridges, the second cartridge, the one pointing up, had not been pierced, and thus everything I had done with the gun for this test was running on one 12 gr. CO2 cartridge. This leads to a possible issue with the piercing pin in the head of the chamber cover, and since I am not the only one to experience this, a follow up conversation will be necessary with Umarex in the coming week. Secondly, this also shows that the gun can perform just as well on one 12 gr. CO2, just not for as many shots. But as the wish list has gone for variations, the idea of a Wanted Dead or Alive Mare’s Laig was unlikely because of the shortened stock. Knowing the gun can perform this well with one 12 gr. functioning, it is only a matter of retooling for a stock change, and shorter barrel and magazine to add a Mares’ Laig to the Legends Cowboy Lever Action line. Not an excuse for this functional error with the CO2 loading, but one silver lining is a grey cloud that may have settled over the Lever Action. I will run several different brands of CO2 in the Lever Action to see if it makes any difference, but the failure I experienced with piercing the CO2 happened with Umarex cartridges.
Next week we are going to pay a quick revisit to another top gun from 2018, the Umarex Glock 17, which is now available for order.