Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Well, this was an interesting test! The 2200 I have apparently has a hardened pump cup. It doesn’t pump as much air as it should with each pump stroke, so the gun doesn’t reach the power levels it’s supposed to.

Remember that the 2200 Magnum is a .22. I tried Crosman Premiers, RWS Meisterkugeln and RWS Hobbys. At first, I tried a Premier with 10 pumps. Velocity ranged from 433 to 452 – which is way too low for this gun. I increased the number of pumps to 15, knowing that each pump stroke only counted as a fractional stroke due to the hard pump cup. Velocity climbed to 514, which is still too slow for the rifle. Jumping to 18 pump strokes, velocity jumped up to 616 f.p.s. To see if I had possibly over-pumped the gun, I fired a second shot, but absolutely no air escaped. So, 18 pump strokes was not too many given the condition of the pump cup.

How do I know it’s the pump cup?
How did I know it was a hard pump cup and not a leaky valve? The test for a leaky valve in a multi-pump gun is to pump three times and store the gun overnight. If it will fire in the morning, the valve holds air. With some guns, such as the Daisy 22SG, this procedure isn’t recommended because you have to cock the gun in order to pump air into the valve, but the 2200 operates in a more conventional way.

The only other cause for low power would be a weak hammer spring. If that had been the problem, velocity would not go beyond a certain level and there would be extra air in the valve with a second shot. My problem is definitely a hard pump cup.

20 pump strokes!
I decided to go up to 20 pump strokes to see if there was anything left to gain, and, indeed, there was! At 20 pumps, a Premier went 624 f.p.s. That’s a gain of 8 f.p.s. for two additional pump strokes, which tells me that 20 is very close to the maximum number of pumps the valve can exhaust. I did not pump it more times because I’m not interested in the absolute last foot-second of speed – just what kind of performance to expect if there was a pliable pump cup in the gun.

Shooting the Meisterkugeln
This was the baseline test since this pellet is the same one Jim House used in his gun the one time he pumped it up 10 times. All the other tests he did were with a maximum of eight pumps, based on his conversation with Crosman engineers. His rifle averaged 590 with Meisters on 10 pumps. My rifle got 595 with 20 pumps and 500 with 10 pumps. That tells me there is no difference between a first variation 2200 Magnum and one made later in the run (House’s was made in the late 1980s). The urban myth of a more powerful first model is busted! Also busted is the myth of a Crosman multi-pump more powerful than Benjamin’s 392. However, the 2200 is still quite a bit ahead of the Daisy 22SG, which gets about 20-40 f.p.s. less.

Will more oiling help?
As I explained yesterday, I liberally oiled the felt wiper on the pump rod, to get the rifle working again. Was that enough? I did it again and reran the tests to see if there was any improvement. Here’s where owning a chronograph pays off! The pump stroke changed in difficulty, and I heard new noises as I pumped. I would have sworn by that evidence that oiling helped, but the chronograph disagreed. There was no significant change in any of the numbers. The numbers don’t lie, so I have to assume the extra oil just got in the way. It’s not all bad, though, because that oil gets blown into the firing valve from the air reservoir, and those seals need it, too.

I’ve established that the first variation Crosman 2200 Magnum is no more powerful than any that followed. If you see one and want to get it, go ahead. There’s nothing special about an early one except for the finish.

I’ve also verified that buying an airgun and “putting it aside” is not such a good idea. That’s where my like-new gun came from. The first owner had set it aside just because the price seemed good and he liked the look, but pneumatics need to be exercised, or they harden up like this one did. If you own a bunch of pneumatics, you need to take them out and use them from time to time, or this will happen to them.

We’ll look at accuracy next.