by B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’d like to look at an upscale target pistol. In case you are not aware, the Euro has strengthened against the dollar to the point that airguns that used to cost $500 now sell for $1,000. About three years ago, the top target air pistols were all selling in the $1,000 to $1,200 range. Then the dollar began its slide and those same pistols now retail for $1,400 to $1,800! They’re very nice guns, without a doubt, but I have been shooting a Czech Republic target pistol that cost me $325 about six years ago. Now known as the Aeron B99, I feel qualified to talk about it.
This pistol could win the Olymipcs!
It probably won’t, because the big name guns are given to the world’s best shooters. Their makers promote their guns by seeing to it that top competitors all over the world shoot their guns. Just like a top race car driver doesn’t pay for his car (in world-class competition), no top shooter does either. But, an Aeron B99 is capable of shooting a perfect score in competition, which is all it takes to win.
The B99 is a PCP!
One thing the new B99 has over my gun is that it’s become a PCP. Mine is called a Chameleon, and it’s a CO2 pistol. It’s a great gun, but it cost me some points when it ran low on gas in the middle of a match, as CO2 guns are known to do sometimes. The new pistol has a built-in regulator that provides all the regulated shots needed to complete a men’s match (60 shots plus sighters plus 10 tie-breakers for the top scorers at the end).
The grips are very adjustable
Every competitor carves his grips and fills them with plastic wood until they fit his hand like a glove. That said, the basic grip adjusts in many ways to accommodate your shooting hand, plus the trigger blade adjusts several more ways so you can get the perfect fit. The grips are stippled (roughened) for maximum gripping power, and they are closely styled after the world-famous grips of Caesare Morini. The guns that sell for more money have actual Morini-licensed grips, which is one place the extra money goes.
The B99 has world-class sights that adjust for the width of the front blade, the rear notch as well as the usual adjustments. They lie very low in your hand, which is considered a plus in a good target pistol.
The trigger is fully adjustable for weight, which must be not less than 500 grams in a match. It has a dry-fire feature that competitors use about five to ten times as much as they actually shoot pellets. Since trigger control is so important to a competitor, daily practice is required and most shooters shoot at least one full match a day in the dry-fire mode. After a few thousand shots in practice, you get to the point that you can score every shot you fire, even when no pellet comes out!
The trigger, however, is the one place where the B99 is not at the top of the heap. Due to some moving parts in the firing mechanism, there is the slightest hint of creep in the second-stage pull. I got so used to it that it didn’t bother me, but a world-class shooter would not tolerate it. And that, alone, is what keeps the B99 from competing in the Olympics. Still, at hunderds of dollars less than what the top guns sell for, this pistol can go one-on-one with any of them and the winner will be determined by whoever is the best shooter. This is a pistol the best shooters in the world cannot out-shoot.
One of the last good deals?
I wouldn’t go quite that far, but mine has served me well for many years. I was an NRA Sharpshooter with a 535 point average in my best year, which is not the absolute best, but it ain’t bad. I started with a Russian IZH 46M, but I found the B99 to be more refined in the sights, trigger and grip – and it’s the one I still shoot today. I would LOVE to have mine in a PCP, and you can get yours that way. Yes, it costs more, but what doesn’t these days?