Norma S-Target Match pellet

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Norma tin
Today we are looking at the S-Target Match pellet from Norma.

This report covers:

  • A new line of pellets
  • Today’s pellet
  • Consistency
  • Weight
  • Cleanliness
  • How to test
  • FWB 300S
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Beeman R8 Tyrolean
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Another test?
  • Summary

Today I’m doing something that I find difficult to do — introducing a new pellet. Actually I’m introducing a new line of pellets branded by Norma, but today we will look at just one of them — the Norma S-Target Match wadcutter.

This is difficult because you readers are all over the board when it comes to the things you shoot. I show a group of ten pellets in three-quarters of an inch at 25 yards and it’s sacrilege for some of you, and others ask me how that would look on a soda can! So today I’m just gonna do what I’m gonna do and you can watch if you want. Today will be a first look at this pellet — not an all-out test.

A new line of pellets

The S-Target Match isn’t the girl you fell in love with in the first grade and loved all through high school. This is a new girl who just moved into the neighborhood a couple months ago with a large family that we will get to know in the days ahead. There are domes, heavy domes, pointed pellets and wadcutters in both .177 and .22 in the family. I plan to run them into my tests in the coming days, but today is an introduction to the new line and I chose the Norma S-Target Match to intro the line. She has a pretty name, but can she cook? That’s what we will start to learn today.

Today’s pellet

The S-Target Match is an 8.2-grain wadcutter that I slipped into yesterday’s blog for the first time. Didja notice? With the words Target and Match in the name this pellet goes up against some pretty stiff competition and that is how it has to be tested. 

There are 300 pellets in a tin in the .177 caliber and 200 in the .22. I don’t know the retail pricing, so I can’t say how expensive this pellet is. Norma claims a 7mm grouping at 10 meters for the pellets I’m testing today, but they measured from the outside of all the holes, rather than the more common center-to-center. But that is easy enough to correct. To get the group size you subtract one pellet diameter — 4.5mm — from 7mm and you get a group size of 2.5mm or 0.098-inches between centers. That would be a remarkable group! Of course I have no idea of what airgun shot it or if the airgun was hand-held or clamped in a vise, but there aren’t too many air pistols or rifles that can do much better.

Consistency

Question number one — does this pellet come in different head sizes? Not that I can see on the packaging. That’s a little odd for a target pellet. So I got out my Pelletgage and measured 10 of them at random. Seven had heads smaller than 4.49mm. One was 4.49mm. One was 4.495mm and one was 4.51mm.

Since the bulk of the ten I measured were smaller than 4.49mm, I believe that is the intended head size for this pellet. Maybe it’s 4.85mm but my Pelletgage doesn’t go down that small because who uses pellets with heads that small? Unfortunately I have no airguns that prefer head sizes that small (that I know of), but I proceeded with the test regardless.

Weight

We are also concerned with how consistent the weight of these pellets is. So I weighed the 10 whose heads I measured and got 1 that weighed 8.1 grains, 6 that weighed 8.2 grains and 3 that weighed 8.3 grains. For 10-meter competition weight means a lot less than head size, and there is no benefit in being anal and going down to the hundredth of a grain. The gram weight is advertised as 0.53 grams. Weight matters a lot more in field target where you shoot out to 50 meters. At 10 meters it almost doesn’t matter.

Cleanliness

One thing that does matter to both 10-meter shooters and field target competitors is the cleanliness of the pellets in the tin. Back when I competed in field target some people washed their pellets to get rid of small lead chips they called swarf. I hand-sorted my pellets by weight and eyeballed each of them but I never bothered washing them. But then I was only an average field target shooter.

Now, in 10-meter competition where I was more competitive I hand-inspected each pellet — though I never weighed them. I will say that the H&N, RWS and Chinese target pellets that I used back in the 1990s were all very clean and free from swarf. These Norma pellet are also clean and absolutely swarf-free. I cannot see a flake of lead swarf in the tin or in the skirts of any of the pellets — and I looked!

How to test

This is a new pellet, so how do I test it? Well for starters I shoot it in the most accurate .177 air rifles I have and see what it does. As I said in the beginning — this is just an introduction, not an all-out test.

FWB 300S

My most accurate 10-meter target rifle is my FWB 300S. I have shot 5-shot groups as small as 0.078-inches with Qiang Yuan Olympic target pellets, but I decided to use another pellet I have in greater supply today. 

I shot off a sandbag rest, resting the rifle directly on the bag. Because the 300S isolates the barreled action from the stock to allow the action to slide back in recoil, a bag rest is the best way to hold the rifle.

JSB Exact RS

The FWB 300S has put five JSB Exact RS pellets into a 0.111-inch group at 10 meters in the past (Feb 24, 2012). I thought the rifle was still sighted for this pellet and it was. Now, on any given day old BB will be a little better or a little worse, so the first thing I did was shoot a group of five RS pellets off a rest at 10 meters. When the first pellet cut the 10-ring I stopped looking and shot the remaining four. Man — can that 300S shoot! The only thing I don’t like is the rear sight coming back into my eye, but I wear glasses to protect myself.

This time I put five RS pellets into 0.137-inches at 10 meters. That’s larger than back in 2012, but in the same ballpark. That would serve as my baseline.

FWB RS group
The FWB 300S put five JSB Exact RS pellets into as 0.137-inch group at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Next I loaded an S-Target Match pellet into the FWB and touched it off. I was pleased to see the pellet was not just a 10, but a pinwheel (the pellet hole was centered almost perfectly inside the 9-ring, obliterating the 10-dot completely)! Then I shot the next 4 rounds without looking. At the end I had 5 shots in a hole that measures 0.172-inches between centers at 10 meters. Given the small head size of this pellet, that is excellent performance. If I had a pellet rifle that liked the smaller head sizes this S-Target-Match might do much better. Perhaps I do have something, but I will get to it later.

FWB Norma Target group
The FWB 300S put five Norma S-Target Match pellets into a 0.172-inch group at 10 meters.

Beeman R8 Tyrolean

The other hyper-accurate .177 rifle I own is my Beeman R8 Tyrolean that was a gift when I got out of the hospital in 2010. That one is so accurate that I don’t ever remove the Burris Timberline 4.5-14X32 scope that’s on it. I just shoot it.

R8 Tyrolean
Beeman R8 Tyrolean.

JSB Exact RS

This rifle likes JSB Exact RS pellet, as well, which is another reason I chose it for today’s test. In the past I have put five shots from this rifle and pellet into 0.22-inches at 25 yards — not 10 meters. Today I shot at 10 meters and five went into 0.21-inches between centers. That’s a very nice group, even though it is only 10 meters.

R8 RS
The R8 put five JSB RS pellets in 0.21-inches at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Now for the Norma S-Target Match pellet. Five went into 0.25-inches exactly. Given the smaller head I think that’s pretty darn good.

R8 Norma
Five Norma S-Target Match pellets went into 0.25-inches at 10 meters.

Another test?

I do own an FWB P44 pistol whose test target group measures 0.018-inches between centers — the smallest test target I have ever seen. I was never able to get groups smaller than 0.242-inches at 10 meters, and that was with Vogel pellets that have 4.50mm heads. So that pistol might be the ideal testbed for this S-Target Match pellet. I’m thinking of testing this pellet again in that pistol, and I would sort my pellet heads for the test.

Summary

That’s a quick look at what promises to be a great new line of lead pellets. Like I mentioned, you will be seeing more of them in the future.


Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vigilante dot sight
Crosman Vigilante with the UTG Micro dot sight mounted.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 

This report covers:

  • What has changed?
  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • What does this prove?
  • Crosman Premier Light
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Is it me or the pellets?
  • Summary

Today I believe you will be surprised. I sure was! This is the second accuracy test of the Crosman Vigilante CO2 revolver.

What has changed?

Today I mounted the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight on the revolver, to see if a better sight would improve my accuracy. I tried the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy target pellet and I also introduce a new pellet that I will begin testing for you today, plus the two best pellets from the last test were chosen for today’s test. Those are the only things I did differently in today’s test.

The test

I shot 5-shot groups at 10 meters with my arms rested on a sandbag. I have to tell you, that dot sure jumps around when the revolver is held in the hands!

Sight-in

The dot sight was not on target to begin with, so I moved forward to 10 feet and started the sight-in. I shot 4 pellets before getting them where I wanted. Then I backed up to 10 meters and refined the sight picture with 4 more pellets. Now I was ready to shoot.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

The first pellet to be tested and also used for the sight-in was the RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter.  The Vigilante put five of them into a 0.684-inch group at 10 meters. I was astonished! In the last test using open sights I was able to put five of these same pellets into 1.828-inches at the same 10 meters, with everything else being exactly the same. 

Vigilante dot Meisterkugeln rifle group 1
The Crosman Vigilante revolver , with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight mounted, five RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into a 0.684-inch group at 10 meters.

Take me home, mother, and put me to bed! I have seen enough to know that I have seen too much. That group, my friends, is a result! The Godfather of Airguns may say that sights don’t improve the accuracy of an airgun, but in this case — they do! That little green dot may have been wobbling around the bullseye as I watched it, but apparently the pellets all knew right where I wanted them to go. After this group I didn’t adjust the dot sight again for the remainder of the test.

What does this prove?

What this proves is this pistol can be just as accurate as its owners claim. I don’t doubt that goes for the Crosman 357 that preceded it, as well. It isn’t a precision target pistol, but for what little you pay, you get a whole lot of value!

Crosman Premier Light

The next pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier Light dome. Five of them went into 1.853-inches at 10 meters, with four of them in 0.867-inches. I didn’t call that lowest shot a pull, but it’s directly below the other four pellets and you have to remember that this revolver has a very heavy trigger pull.

Vigilante dot Premier Light group
The Vigilante put five Crosman Premier Light pellets into 1.853-inches at 10 meters. The upper four pellets are in 0.867-inches.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Next to be tested was the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet. I just wanted to see what they could do, because in many airguns they are so accurate. The Vigilante put five of them into 1.982-inches at 10 meters. There is nothing in this group that gives me any hope that the Vigilante likes it, so this one is out.

Vigilante dot Sig Match Alloy group
Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 1.982-inches at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

The final pellet I tried is one you haven’t seen before — the S-Target Match from Norma. It’s an 8.2-grain wadcutter, which puts it into the target rifle pellet class — along with the Meisterkugeln Rifle. The Vigilante put five into a 1.892-inch group. I will be testing this new pellet more very soon, but from these results and the open group I can tell it isn’t the one for the Vigilante.

Vigilante dot Norma target group
The Vigilante put five Norma S-Target Match pellets into 1.892-inches at 10 meters.

Is it me or the pellets?

At this point in the test I was getting tired. Concentrating on the dot with that heavy trigger pull was making me very tired and I wondered if the last few larger groups were the pellets or me. So I shot another group of five Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets that had opened this test. This time the group was larger than the first time, at 1.309-inches between centers. Four of the five pellets are in 0.932-inches and they landed in the same place they did in the first group. This is the second-smallest 5-shot group of the test and it was shot at the end.

Vigilante dot-Meisterkugeln Rifle group 2
The second group of Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets measures 1.309-inches between centers, with 4 in 0.932-inches. The second smallest group of today’s test.

I think the Meisterkugeln Rifle pellet is a good one for the Vigilante and I also think I was partly responsible for the openness of the last few groups. The bottom line is — the Vigilante can shoot!

Summary

In my experience this is one of the very rare times that a different sight has significantly improved the accuracy of a pellet gun. I will still say that different sights don’t usually matter that much, but clearly they can, and sometimes they do.

Next I will test the Vigilante with BBs, and I think I will leave the dot sight installed.


The Daisy 35: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Velocity per pump stroke
  • More than 10 pumps?
  • Loading
  • Consistency
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Velocity with BBs
  • Daisy Premium BB
  • Marksman Premium grade BBs
  • Smart Shot
  • Pump effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of the Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic. Let’s get started.

Velocity per pump stroke

First I tested the velocity per pump stroke with RWS Hobby pellets. Daisy says in the manual that 2 pumps are the least that should be used, so that’s where I started. Ten pumps are the maximum, and I was concerned to see if there would be any air left in the gun after firing after the maximum pumps. 

Pumps……Vel.
2…………….359
3…………….429
4…………….483
5…………….518
6…………….548
7…………….567
8…………….585
9…………….606
10..………….622 no air remaining after the shot

We see that the velocity increases with each pump stroke. The early strokes add the most velocity and things level off after 6 pumps. Velocity still increases, but the amount of the increase diminishes significantly.

More than 10 pumps?

I know that people always wonder what happens with additional pump strokes. I used to test that and here is what I have learned over the past 30 years. If you don’t exceed the recommended maximum number of pump strokes your airgun will remain fresh for a long time. Eventually the atmosphere does harden the seals and the velocity starts decreasing. This is when the gun starts to respond to more pump strokes than the recommended maximum. However, it will seldom exceed the maximum velocity of the same airgun with fresh seals. If it does, it will only be by a small amount. If you read the report I did on my Sheridan Blue Streak in 2016, especially Parts 2 and 3, you will see exactly what I’m talking about.

Pumping more times than the recommended maximum puts a strain on the bearings of the pump linkage. Any repair center can tell you that when they overhaul an older multi-pump, the linkage bearings are often shot. So I don’t do that anymore.

Loading

I tried loading the airgun with the reverse tweezers I told you about in Part 1. It did work, but not a hundred percent. While doing it I discovered the real loading problem with the gun and also how best to address it.

Daisy 35 loading tweezers
Loading the Daisy 35 with reverse tweezers was easy, but not necessary.

Several times the pellet I was loading fell backwards into the BB loading hole and that turned out to be the loading problem. It even happened when I used the tweezers. To load reliably I have to hold the rifle with the muzzle pointed down and roll the pellet into the loading trough with my thumb. It almost always falls into the breech when loaded that way.

Daisy 35 BB hole
That hole in the left side wall of the pellet loading trough is for BBs to be attracted to the magnet on the tip of the bolt. Unfortunately the hole is large enough for the skirt of the pellet to fall in and get jammed, so it won’t load when the bolt slides forward.

Consistency

Next I tested the 35 on 7 pump strokes with the same RWS Hobby pellet. This time ten shots averaged 576 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 571 to a high of 579 f.p.s. That’s an 8 f.p.s. difference, which is reasonably tight and very typical of a multi-pump in good condition. Now let’s see how the gun does on different pellets.

Air Arms Falcons

I decide to test all other pellets on 7 pumps. The Air Arms Falcon dome averaged 554 f.p.s. The low was 542 and the high was 565, so the spread was 23 f.p.s. That is very large for a multi-pump. It suggests the Falcon may not be right for the Daisy 35.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

The last pellet I tested was the 5.25-grain Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutter. On 7 pumps they averaged 624 f.p.s. The low was 621 and the high was 631, so a 10 f.p.s. spread that is not bad.

Thus far we have seen that the Daisy 35 is just as powerful as advertised on the Pyramyd Air website. Just for fun I pumped it 10 times and shot a Sig Match Ballistic pellet. It went out at 681 f.p.s. Is that close enough to the 690 f.p.s. printed on the box? You decide.

Velocity with BBs

Now let’s look at the velocity with BBs. I’ll test a conventional steel BB, a frangible BB, a lead BB and an oversized BB. All will be with 7 pumps. Let’s go!

Daisy Premium BB

First I tested 10 Daisy Premium Grade BBs. On 7 pumps they averaged 582 f.p.s. The low was 570 and the high was 605 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 35 f.p.s., which is not terrible considering how much smaller these BBs are than the bore of the 35.

Marksman Premium grade BBs

We know from testing that Marksman BBs measure 0.176-inches in diameter and are therefore too large to fit in many BB guns. But this gun is also for pellets and it fed and shot these BBs fine. They averaged 572 f.p.s., with a 47 f.p.s. spread from 549 to 596 f.p.s.

Smart Shot

Next tested were 10 Smart Shot lead BBs. Since they are not ferrous I didn’t try to feed them through the BB magazine but loaded them singly, like pellets. Smart Shot averaged 478 f.p.s. with a low of 453 and a high of 512 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 59 f.p.s.

Dust Devils

The last BB I tried was the Air Venturi Dust Devil. It’s lighter than the Daisy BB but also smaller in diameter, so I wondered what that would do to the velocity. Dust Devils averaged 570 f.p.s. with a 28 f.p.s. spread from 554 to 582 f.p.s.

Well, BBs weren’t as consistent in the Daisy 35, nor were they as powerful as lead pellets. I guess their one advantage beside low cost is that the steel ones feed through the magazine.

Pump effort

I said in Part 1 that the Daisy 35 seems easy to pump. But is it? 

Pump…Effort lbs.
1……………….5
2..…………….12
3..…………….12
4..…………….15
5..…………….20
6..…………….21
7..…………….19
8..…………….20
9..…………….19
10…………….21

What is happening, here? Why are more pumps taking less effort? I think the reason has to do with the speed of the pump stroke. Slow down and it gets easier, but you don’t seem to lose any velocity. So the Daisy 35 is definitely an airgun for younger folks.

Trigger pull

The single-stage trigger breaks with 5 lbs. 5 oz. pressure. That is about ideal for young people and new shooters. The break is reasonably crisp, so it’s very pleasant.

Summary

The Daisy 35 is stacking up quite well so far. And with my previous experience back in 2011, I believe it will also be accurate. We will see.


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Three groups
  • Taped the targets
  • Hand-held
  • Follow-through
  • Glasses
  • First group — H&N Finale Match Light
  • Group two — RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • A secret
  • Head sizes and groups
  • Group three — Vogle Match pellets
  • Velocity?
  • Why?
  • Another accuracy test

Today we revisit the Diana 75/Beeman 400 for a very special reason. You readers thought the rifle didn’t perform up to expectations last time in the accuracy test, and neither did I. So I took every one of your recommendations and applied them today.

Three groups

I only have three 5-shot groups to show you from today’s test. I shot them with the two pellets that did the best in the last test, plus one pellet that I thought might be on the fence. I shot from 10 meters and I’ll tell you the rest as we go. Much of what I will say in this report is for me, for the next time I shoot this rifle.

Taped the targets

To keep the targets from tearing I put tape on their backs. I used aluminum foil tape like Hank recommended on some of the bulls and a white form of duct tape on the rest. The aluminum tape tore the target paper around the edges of each hole and was not as clean as the white duct tape, so next time the white tape is what I’ll use. Just cover the back of each bull and that’s it.

Hand-held

Someone, I don’t know who, recommended holding the rifle tight to the shoulder. He said the Giss contra-recoil system does not like to be rested directly on a bag. Maybe that was a comment to the Diana 10/Beeman 900 pistol that I tested awhile back. Either way, today I rested the forearm on the flat palm of my off hand that was resting on the sandbag. I did not grip the forearm with my fingers. I also pulled the butt firmly into my shoulder and my right hand gripped the pistol grip of the stock firmly.

Follow-through

Another person said my groups last time looked like I wasn’t following through. I had to agree with him. I made a concerted effort to follow through on every shot this time.

Glasses

Instead of the 1.25-diopter reading glasses that I would normally use, I wore my regular glasses today. My vision is 20-25, corrected to 20-20 by my glasses. The front sight diopter was clear and I was able to center the bull precisely.

Okay, that’s a lot of stuff done differently than last time. Last time the rifle was rested directly on the sandbag, the targets were not taped, I wore the reading glasses and I held the rifle in a classic artillery hold. I also agreed that I was probably not following through on every shot last time. So all the important stuff was changed today to conform to the comments made by you readers.

First group — H&N Finale Match Light

In the last test I thought that H&N Finale Match Light pellets did the best. When I measured the groups I discovered that a different pellet beat them, but I still had a very good feeling about this pellet. The best group with Finale Match Light last time was five in 0.186-inches between centers.

Today I put five Finale Match Light pellets into 0.14-inches between centers. That is a gold dollar group, because it’s smaller than 0.15-inches between centers. It’s also the best group of the day — or at least the best group that I will show you.

Finale light group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets into a 0.14-inch group at 10 meters.

This group was high, so I adjusted the rear sight down 9 clicks. I can’t hear the clicks when I adjust, but the numbers on the scale tell me what I am doing.

Group two — RWS R10 Match Pistol

The next pellet I tried was the RWS R10 Match Pistol wadcutter. In the last test this pellet did the best, putting five into 0.162-inches at 10 meters. This time it didn’t group as tight, with five in 0.198-inches, but that’s still good enough for the silver trime (groups that are less than 0.20-inches between centers).

R10 Pistol group
The Diana 75 put five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets into a group that measures 0.198-inches between centers at 10 meters.

A secret

And now I’ll tell you a secret. I didn’t shoot just three groups this time. I shot four! The first group of R10 pellets that I haven’t shown measured a tight 0.121-inches between centers — BUT, there is also a lone shot that hit about a half-inch to the left of the group. I believe on the last target that I am about to show you I might have fired one of the five shots at the wrong bull and it was the flier I just mentioned with this first R10 group. I believe that, but I’m not sure. 

I looked at the small R10 group through the spotting scope after completing it and I didn’t see a hole off to its left, but when I collected the target there it was. And, on the next group you are about to see, I can only see what appear to be four holes. Also, the wild shot on the R10 bull would have grouped with the rest of these other pellets, had it been shot at the correct bull.

I’m not showing you that smaller R10 group because I don’t know for sure what happened. But I saw the small group clearly through the scope and I believe I would have also seen the stray hole if it had been there. Hey, guys — this is what happens in the real-world!

Head sizes and groups

Jerry Cupples and I had talked for a long time the day before about Pelletgage and I had pellet head sizes on my mind. I just bought 6,500 Vogel target pellets that came in a bulk pack. They can be any head size and I suspected this Diana 75 likes the larger sizes. So I checked the head sizes of both the Finale Match Light pellets and the R10 Match Pistol pellets. I didn’t sort them by head size — I only wanted to know what their general head sizes were in the tin, since they were the two most accurate pellets in this rifle.

Finale Match Light pellets had head sizes that ranged from 4.525 to 4.53mm and R10 Match Pistol pellet heads ranged from 4.515 to 4.525mm. I’m using a special Pelletgage that Jerry produced that goes down to the thousandth of a millimeter.

Then I hand-sorted 11 Vogle pellets with head sizes greater than 4.53mm. I know that is a larger head size than the other two pellets, but at the time I thought bigger was better in this rifle.

Group three — Vogle Match pellets

This group, which may only be 4 shots (it was backed by aluminum tape), measures 0.547-inches between centers at 10 meters. Clearly, and in comparison with the other two (or possibly three) groups, the Vogle is not the right pellet for the Diana 75 — at least not Vogels with heads larger than 4.53mm!

Vogel group
Either four or five Vogle pellets made this 0.547-inch group at 10 meters. I think the Diana 75 does not like pellets with a head size larger than 4.53mm, and it may not like Vogel pellets altogether.

Velocity?

Now I will address something several readers mentioned after they read the velocity test in Part Two. They wondered whether the new piston seal that Dave Slade installed in the rifle a few years ago was still breaking in. You may remember that the former owner of the rifle sold it to me knowing that the velocity was slow. Those readers who commented wondered whether the rifle might speed up as that new seal was used.

Well, between Parts 3 and today I have shot the rifle another 60 times since the velocity test was done. If there is some break-in happening we should start seeing it by now, I think. So I shot another string of 10 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets for velocity. 

The average for this pellet in Part 2 was 534 f.p.s. The low was 526 and the high was 543 f.p.s., so the spread was 17 f.p.s.

Today I oiled the piston seal with two drops of silicone chamber oil, then fired 9 shots to settle down the powerplant. When oil stopped spraying out on every shot, I started the chronograph. The average today was 545 f.p.s and the spread went from a low of 539 to a high of 551 f.p.s. — a difference of 12 f.p.s. After 60 shots since the last velocity test the average velocity for this pellet is up by 11 f.p.s. and the spread is down by 5 f.p.s. It’s a small difference but it does appear that the new piston seal could be breaking in. I plan to watch the velocity of this rifle over time and see how it develops.

Why?

Why did I run this extra accuracy and velocity test? I did it because in the future I want to pit this rifle against my FWB 300S that is the most accurate 10-meter rifle I own. I learned a lot today, and I have explained all of it to you in this report.

This rifle came to me with a test target group that measures 0.065-inches between centers. As far as I’m concerned, we have not yet seen performance of that level from this rifle. That means one of two things, or both. Either I haven’t yet found the right pellet for the rifle, or I haven’t yet found the right head size. I think the ideal head size for this rifle is around 4.52mm. Based on the smallest group of R10 pellets that I didn’t show you, the group that might measure 0.121-inches between centers if I’m right about the flier, the R10 may be the best pellet and 4.52mm may be the correct head size.

Diana-75-test-target
The test target that came with the Diana 75 is serial-numbered to the rifle. A group of five pellets are in 0.065-inches at 10 meters.

Another accuracy test

I see another accuracy test is in store for this rifle. I want it to do its very best when it faces my FWB 300S, because that rifle certainly will be doing the same.


Lookalike airguns: Part One

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

What is a lookalike?
A typical lookalike
Colt held back
They got better
Military or civilian?
I could go on

Today we begin a series on lookalike airguns. I don’t know exactly how long this could be, but I suspect it could be large. I also know that this subject is a favorite for many of you.

What is a lookalike?

A lookalike airgun is one that resembles an iconic firearm. It gives the owner the chance to experience the feeling of ownership and operation while remaining in the safer, less litigious world of airguns.

A typical lookalike

In a moment I will discuss the difference between a military lookalike and a purely civilian one, but let’s begin with a look at a gun that exists in both camps — the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver! The SAA, as it is called, was brought out by Colt as the next step in revolvers from their famous black powder cap and ball handguns. While it wasn’t the last in the line, the Colt 1860 Army is perhaps the best example of an evolved single-action cap and ball revolver. It certainly is the best example of a Colt revolver from that time.

1860 Army
Colt’s 1860 Army revolver was highly advanced for a cap and ball black powder handgun.

When Smith & Wesson patented the revolver cylinder that was through-bored (open all the way through the cylinder) in the 1850s, they allowed the use of cartridge ammunition for the first time. Their first firearm on that patent was the model 1 that was initially chambered for .22 rimfire. It came to market in 1857 — just in time for the American Civil War. The cartridge it was chambered for was just called a .22 rimfire, but as that cartridge line evolved in the latter 1800s, it became known as the .22 short.

S&W mod 1
Smith & Wesson’s model 1 came out in 1857 and lasted until 1882. It was chambered for what we now call the .22 short cartridge.

The model 1 was very popular as a backup gun by Northern troops in the Civil War. It didn’t have much power — perhaps 25 foot-pounds or so, but it was better than nothing.

Colt held back

The bored-through cylinder was patented by a former Colt employee, Rollin White. Why he didn’t try to sell the idea to Colt first we may never know, and maybe he did. Smith & Wesson pounced on it and paid White a royalty of 25 cents per gun, which was a huge sum for the day. But they also agreed he would defend the patent and doing that eventually ruined him, financially.

Colt couldn’t make cartridge revolvers as a result of the S&W patent, so they made variations on their 1860 model until the patent on the bored-through cylinder ran out in 1872. Then they brought out their ubiquitous 1873 SAA that is still in production by many manufacturers today.

Colt SAA
Colt Single Action Army. This one was a gift to BB from the readers of this blog, following his 3.5-month hospital stay in 2010. It was not made by Colt, but it is a very accurate copy of that firearm and is chambered in .45 Colt. Reader Kevin was the focal point for this gift!

If you grew up in the 1950s and the early ’60s like BB, you watched westerns on television. Two of my cats were named Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, after two western stars of the time. Their real names were Leonard Franklin Slye and Frances Octavia Smith.

I idolized all things cowboy and so when Crosman brought out the .22-caliber  SA-6 (single action six) pellet revolver in 1959, I bought one with my paper route money. 

Crosman SA-6
Crosman-SA-6.

I didn’t have a holster for that revolver and, since holsters cost money, I carried the SA-6 in my right front pants pocket — a practice that was common in my day and also one that I do not recommend. I loved that .22 caliber pellet pistol. One day while “hunting” in the woods around the Cuyahoga River in Stow, Ohio, a rabbit jumped out of the weeds and frightened me. When my “cool” returned several seconds later I calmly drew my pellet pistol and fanned off 6 quick shots into the weeds where the rabbit had gone 5 seconds before, earning the nickname, “Fanner 50” from my friend who was with me. For readers less than 60 years old, a Fanner 50 was a very popular cap gun of the day.

They got better

So the SA-6 was an early attempt at a lookalike SAA. The CO2 cartridge hid beneath the barrel, covered by a black plastic sheath that camouflaged it very well. But things would get better.

In the late 1990s I was at the home of Wulf Pflaumer’s sister in Maryland. Wulf is one of the two founders of Umarex. We were discussing the lever action rifle he was about to bring out and I told him that a realistic SAA would also be a hit. He told me they wanted to make one but the revolver’s grip frame was too short to allow a 12-gram CO2 cartridge to fit inside. I told him to try the Colt 1860 Army grip frame. It is 1/2-inch longer and the outlaw, Dakota, at Frontier Village amusement park where I worked in college had put one on his SAA because the SAA grip was too short for him. The 1860 grip frame fit a 12-gram cartridge perfectly and almost no one notices the difference. The rest is history.

A couple years later Umarex brought out the Colt SAA in both pellet and BB gun versions and they have now produced almost every variation of that firearm except for some reason the 4-3/4-inch barrel version that many shooters have asked for. Bat Masterson carried a 4-3/4-inch SAA, as did many gunfighters, because it cleared the holster quicker and was therefore faster to draw.

Umarex SAA
The first Umarex SAA was very realistic, as have been all that followed.

Military or civilian?

I said I would return to this topic. The Colt SAA we have been discussing is both. It was first purchased by the military, but civilian sales soon surged past what the military bought. The SAA is so ergonomic that, until the German P08 Luger pistol came around, it was the long pole in the tent. And it’s still one of the most desired, and most recognized handguns of all time.

There are things about military firearms that make them attractive to shooters. Strength, design and robustness are all main factors, but history trumps everything. No one who has ever held and fired an M1 Garand would think of it as an attractive weapon, but Japan, who was an enemy of the US during WW II, thought enough of it to create 250 close copies for study. Called the Type 4 rifle (and sometimes the type 5), it was homage to the American rifle that so dominated our military campaigns in the latter half of the war.

That addresses why we have military lookalike airguns, though I probably have more than one more report to do on just them, but what about civilian firearm lookalikes? Are there any of them? There certainly are. I won’t get into them deeply this late in today’s report, but for starters, don’t forget the Crosman 38C and 38T revolvers.

And this I will also say, though I call them civilian firearms, the military buys oneseys and twoseys of just about anything. Just because Sergeant So-And-So carried one on the flight line at Da Nang doesn’t make it a military firearm. I’m talking about firearms the military officially adopted — not something Private Ryan carried in his combat boot.

38-T
Crosman’s 38-T from the 1970s was a replica of S&W’s purely civilian (and law enforcement) revolvers.

I could go on

And I plan to. The world of airgun lookalike/replica guns is both a hot topic at any time and red-hot today. Even though this report is in the history section, we are still living in the heyday of lookalike airguns.


Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 2 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 3 Bore size versus performance
Part 4 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 5 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 6 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges

This report covers:

  • Bullets
  • Ton to the rescue
  • Sheathe the mold handles
  • Change gloves
  • Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets
  • Better bullets
  • 38-grain bullets
  • Flashing
  • 25-grain bullets
  • Summary

Now that we know how to get positive ignition with a reloaded rimfire cartridge, it’s time to reload some more and get to testing.  In Part 6 we learned that both the primer powder that I bought commercially from Sharpshooter and the powder I removed from toy caps were successful to prime .22 rimfire cartridges, when used according to the directions that came from Sharpshooter. It’s time to move on and load more cartridges to test.

Bullets

If you recall, I was disappointed by the bullets I cast the first time around. The little mold I got from Sharpshooter is all-aluminum and also too small. The aluminum handles heat up so hot I cannot hold them, so I was casting from a relatively cold bullet mold last time. That’s never good. It was 300 to 400 degrees, which is too hot to hold and too cold to cast well.

On top of that I used up all the barely acceptable bullets when I reloaded the 28 unsuccessful cartridges. So I had to cast more bullets and they had to be better.

Ton to the rescue

Ton Jones was reading my report and called me over to AirForce. He gave me a pair of Ton Jones barbecue gloves to hold the hot handles of the bullet mold. What a great gift! Thank you, Ton!

Jones gloves
Ton Jones gave me a pair of his famous barbecue gloves to help me hold the small bullet mold.

Ton told me the amount of time and at what heat these gloves will work. They are effective for temperatures of up to 900 degrees F for 10 seconds, but at the estimated 400-degree heat of the mold handles they work for several minutes.

Sheathe the mold handles

Besides the gloves I decided to sheathe the mold handles with wood. My neighbor Denny had made a nice pair of wooden handle covers that I tried fastening with electrician’s tape last time. The tape melted from the heat, so it was ineffective, but these wood handles are now held to the mold handles by two bolts with nuts on each side. Some reader suggested to use epoxy, but there is no commercial epoxy including muffler cement that can withstand the intense heat for as long as it is needed.

mold handles
The wood handles Denny made are held on the aluminum mold handles with two bolts on each handle.

Using the wooden handles and the gloves I was able to get the mold up to a good casting temperature and cast enough bullets of both sizes for a really good test. The bolts that hold the wooden handles on do transmit the temperature, but the gloves allow me to hold the mold better. I hold the handles toward the rear where the bolts are not located, though I do come in contact with them. 

Change gloves

I found I only need one glove on my left hand, so the other one sits around until I need it. Every few minutes the glove I’m using gets too warm and I switch with the idle glove. This allows for an unlimited time of casting.

Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets

I also discovered this time that I needed to set my Lyman lead furnace hotter because I was casting softer lead that has less tin. Pure lead flows at a higher temperature than lead alloyed with tin and antimony. There was some of each of those metals in the pot, but less than if I was casting bullets for a large caliber firearm pistol. As a note to myself I set the pot at 7.5 on the scale instead of the usual 6.5 for the harder alloys. And the bullets that came from the mold remained shiny, which indicates they were formed at a good casting temperature.

Better bullets

The worst of the bullets I retained from this casting session are better than the best bullets from the first cast. There are still some problems, but they look mold-related and are unlikely to improve.

38-grain bullets

Here are some of the 40 or so 38-grain round-nose bullets that I kept after inspection.

38-grain
The 38-grain round-nosed bullets cast cleaner this time.

38-grain flashing
Some 38-grain bullets had flashing that has to be removed before they can be used.

Flashing

The flashing occurs because the mold halves don’t come together tightly and the sprue plate doesn’t fit the top of the mold tightly. That is a function of the mold. A better mold would not have those problems, but the bullets I get from this mold are suitable for the current project. If I was going to cast thousands of bullets it would be worth spending the money on a better custom mold.

25-grain bullets

The first time I cast bullets the smaller pointed 25-grain bullets fell easily from the mold and the longer 38-grain bullets were harder to get out. This time that was reversed. I believe the hotter mold was the principal reason for this.

I did get about the same number of keeper bullets in the smaller size this time. But some of them also had some flashing on them. I will clean that off before loading the bullets, but I plan to use all of the keepers, or as many as possible.

25-grain flashing
Most of the 25-grain bullets have a little flashing on their base, but these two were the worst.

25-graion tweezers
The 25-grain bullets came from the mold cleaner than the 38-grain bullets. One of them is held in the cross-locking reverse tweezers I mentioned recently.

Summary

This casting session went better because I was better prepared for it. I am also better prepared to load the next set of cartridges for testing because of the experience I have gained from recent testing The next test will be the velocity of both types of bullets with smokeless powder and with Pyrodex, using both kinds of priming compound.

After that I will shoot the cartridges for accuracy, but I’m looking to pare down all the test variables, to keep this testing manageable. I think I will wait to see the results of the velocity test before I load for the accuracy test.


The lowly pellet

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

common pellets
The four common pellet types (shapes) — dome, pointed, wadcutter and hollowpoint. 

This report covers:

  • The common shapes
  • Wadcutter
  • Semi-wadcutter
  • Dome or round-nose
  • Domed differences
  • Pointed pellets
  • Hollowpoints
  • Trick pellets
  • Summary

Recently we looked at all four smallbore pellet calibers — .177. .20, .22 and .25. Today we look at the diabolo pellets that we shoot in them.

The common shapes

I pictured four common pellet shapes above, but there are really only three — the wadcutter, the dome and the pointed pellet. The hollowpoint is based on one of those three shapes and has been made on all three basic shapes. I will explain that in a bit, but for now let’s look at the three basic pellet shapes.

Wadcutter

The wadcutter pellet was perhaps the first shape of the smallbore diabolo (wasp waist and hollow tail) pellet to be created. I temporize with the word “perhaps” because there is still much to be learned about the dawn of the diabolo and we may never know everything. But we see the wadcutter or flat-nosed pellet at the very beginning, sometime just after the turn of the 20th century.

wadcutter pellet
Wadcutter pellet.


wadcutter bullet
Wadcutter bullets.

Wadcutter pellets do the same thing that wadcutter bullets do; they cut perfectly round holes in target paper, which make for easier scoring. As far as bullets go, that is the principal purpose of the wadcutter bullet.

Today there is some talk about using wadcutter bullets for defense because they are slow and won’t shoot through your opponent. And, like wadcutter pellets, they cut large wound channels that don’t close up after the bullet passes through.

Wadcutter pellets, however, do other things. We would never use them for defense, but they are effective on very small game like mice, rats and small pest birds. And, because they are so prevalent, they are perhaps the number one plinking pellet.

Semi-wadcutter

In the bullet world the semi wadcutter is perhaps the number one bullet used in all handguns except semiautomatics used for defense. In revolvers they reign supreme. This bullet retains velocity like a round-nose and cuts a wound channel like a wadcutter. It’s even good for shooting at paper.

semi-wadcutter bullet
Semi-wadcutter bullet.

It’s more difficult to define what a semi-wadcutter pellet is, or should be. Maybe the H&N Hollow Point shown on the right of the first picture of this report is one? It’s harder to say for sure because pellets have to be light enough to fly. Unlike the Keith semi-wadcutter bullet, a pellet can’t be that long and heavy.

Dome or round-nose

The domed pellet is the king of long-range shooting and also of penetration. People will argue that pointed pellets go deeper but testing disproves it. They go as deep but not deeper.

domed pellets
JSB Exact RS on the left and H&N Baracuda on the right. The Baracuda is almost pointed!

Domed pellets are synonymous with round-nosed bullets. They are the best pellet we have for supersonic flight, which, by the way, does not lessen accuracy, as I demonstrated back in 2011.

Domed differences

Domes are pellets with differences. There are tall domes and low domes. The H&N Baracuda has what I would call a tall dome. That gives it a lot of weight forward and also increases the weight of the entire pellet. The JSB Exact RS dome is a low dome that is lightweight but has the aerodynamic properties of the dome. It doesn’t fly true as far as the Baracuda, but it flies far enough to call it a long-range pellet.

Domes are great for hunting, plinking and many sports like field target. The thing they are not so good for is shooting at paper. They leave ragged holes that are difficult to see and score. Special things like taping the target paper is done to improve this, but domes are not for targets.

pointed pellet
The Daisy Pointed Field pellet is a pointed pellet.

The pointed pellet is the least popular of the three main types. Domes can do everything pointed pellets can, and they do much of it better, but pointed pellets do continue to sell. Perhaps their shape is a big reason?

Hollowpoints

I said in the beginning that hollowpoints can be based on any of the three main types. Here’s the proof.

three hollowpoints
These three hollowpoints are based, from left to right, on a wadcutter, a dome and a pointed pellet.

Trick pellets

I define trick pellets as pellets that are not conventional. That’s just my own definition and it is meaningless, but there is a category of pellets that are just a little different. Take the Gamo Rocket, as an example. It’s a semi-dome with a steel ball in the nose. What purpose does that ball serve?

I can see that I need to start testing all of the “trick” pellets for you. Some I know, like the Predator Polymag, are very accurate and consistent. Others with plastic points glued in their tips may not be as accurate. Until I test them I really can’t say. But in my world they are all trick pellets. Even the ultra light pellets that are used to substantiate velocity claims are trick pellets in my book.

trick pellets
Predator Polymags on the left, Gamo Luxor Cu with the pyramid tip in the center and the Tracer Pell that glows in the dark on the right. All trick pellets by my definition.

Summary

I thought this report was going one way, but it changed near the end and gave me several more reports to write. I see I need to test some of what I call trick pellets using an airgun or airguns of proven accuracy, to see what’s wheat and what’s chaff.