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High expectations

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I begin, there’s an announcement for all you .20 caliber fans. Pyramyd AIR just uncovered a pile of .20 caliber Crosman Premier pellets! These are the genuine article and there aren’t many of them, so act TODAY.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately asking about airgun capabilities that are in the stratosphere. They have finally gotten to me, so today I want to address reality, as it concerns airguns.

The one-inch group at 50 yards
This one is the most commonly asked question of all. It goes something like this, “I want to get a hunting rifle and I want one that will shoot at least one-inch groups at 50 yards. I’m trying to decide between a .177 Gamo Hunter Extreme, a Webley Patriot in .25 caliber and an RWS 350 Magnum in .22.”

I don’t doubt that you’re having some difficulty! Please tell me that ANY of those rifles can EVER shoot a one-inch group at 50 yards under ANY conditions, so I can be certain you are out of your mind!

Gentlemen – do you know HOW HARD it is to shoot one-inch groups at 50 yards? It ain’t easy. And now you want to compound the difficulty by attempting to do it with a breakbarrel spring-piston rifle? Why not tie on a blindfold, while you’re at it?

There is a reason that I tend to shoot precharged pneumatic rifles farther than I do spring-piston rifles. It’s because springers are FAR MORE DIFFICULT to shoot accurately! On July 16 I finished my report on the RWS Diana 34 Panther. I was so proud to show you a group that measured less than one-half inch. That group was shot at 35 yards. Had I moved it to 50 yards, the group would have opened to more than an inch, I am fairly sure.

But that goes against “common knowledge” doesn’t it? I mean, if a rifle groups one inch at 50 yards it’s going to group two inches at 100 yards – right? I mean that’s just simple math, isn’t it?

No. A pellet rifle that groups one inch at 50 yards will be hard-pressed to do better than four inches at 100 yards. Six to eight inches is more likely. How can that be?

Because pellets are not laser beams. They don’t fly straight for infinite distances (Laser beams don’t either, if there are gravity wells in the way.)

So, what’s right?
Instead of thinking about one-inch groups, you ought to be thinking about powerplant types and their relative capabilities. Spring-piston guns are the hardest to shoot accurately, with breakbarrel springers being the worst of all. Rejoice when you can shoot a group smaller than two inches with one. Sidelever and underlever springers are easier to shoot accurately, and the BAM B40, and the entire line of underlevers from Air Arms are capable of one-inch groups at 50 yards. Sometimes you can do a little better than that, but don’t count on it. The sidelevers are slightly less accurate – except for the RWS Diana 54, which seems to be right on par with a TX 200.

Gas guns and pneumatics are both easier to shoot accurately, but pneumatics are currently being made with the power and the barrels that make them the dominant long-range airguns. Given barrels of equal quality, good CO2 guns could keep pace on a warm day, but compressed air is just so much easier to deal with that no manufacturer is putting forth the effort to keep up with CO2. Sub one-inch 50-yard groups are very possible with good pneumatics on calm days. But only when shot by shooters who can shoot that well. It takes real skill to shoot that consistently, and Easychair Eddy who just reads the forums and does all his shooting in his mind may not be the best bloke behind a real trigger.

That said, allow me to define a GOOD pneumatic as one with a track record. The new Walther 1250 Dominator will have to prove to me that it can group that well, because the Hammerli 850 AirMagnum from which it is derived can not. Simply changing from one gas to another does not increase accuracy. The Logun Domin8tor is BARELY able to group one-inch at 50 yards. I had to work hard to get it to group like that – a lot harder than a PCP is supposed to be.

On the other hand, I can usually shoot groups less than one-inch with most Airforce rifles in either caliber. Sometimes I get one that’s hard to group, but the norm seems to be much better. And I believe that if I were able to clean the barrels with JB Bore Paste, I could get all of them to group well.

Okay, you understand how hard it is to shoot tight groups at 50 yards. So how do I answer the guy who wants to shoot 4-inch groups at that distance with an airsoft sniper rifle? I told him the best groups he could expect might be in the 12-inch range, but not to expect them that good.

Which is better, a Dodge Viper or a dump truck?
The answer depends on what you want to do with them. But how should I answer the 13-year-old boy who wants to know which gun he should buy – a Daisy 953 or a Gamo Nitro 17. I dedicated today’s post to him, in part, because he also asked me whether the 953 could shoot one-inch groups at 50 yards. Before I could write this blog, he was on to a Crosman 1077 and asking similar questions, i.e. one-inch groups. So here is my answer.

No, I don’t think a 1077 can shoot a one-inch group at 50 yards, but is that important? It can hit a dime at 25 yards, which is 75 feet, and I’ll bet you will do a lot more shooting at that distance than you will at 50 yards. I own three 1077s and I find them all just as fun as any of my more expensive precharged rifles. I just shoot them at different targets. And by the way – I don’t think the Gamo Nitro 17 or the Daisy 953 can shoot one-inch 50-yard groups, either. If I had to choose from among those three, I’d get the 1077 first, the 953 next and the Nitro 17 last.

And, finally…
“I want the most powerful air rifle made that goes the fastest and I want it to be semiautomatic with at least 30 shots and I don’t want to pay more than $100. What do you recommend?”

A Quackenbush .457 Bandit Long Action tricked by Big Bore Bob (power),
A .177 AirForce Condor shooting Gamo Raptors (velocity),
A Beretta CX-4 Storm (30-shot semiauto), and
An IZH 61 (under $100).

37 thoughts on “High expectations”

  1. Hello B.B.,

    I enjoyed this mornings blog as always.

    In line with your subject matter, and assuming an airgun is already proven itself accurate and the most efficient trajectory is sighted in for the following distances, what would be the be the “minimum” speed/fps you would recommend for holding decent groups at each distance:

    30 yards?
    40 yards?
    50 yards?
    even out to 100 yards?

    An idea of what I am going for, is I currently use my 1077 out and up to 20-25yards, my RWS46 out and up to 25-30yards, my Sumatra out and up to 35-50yards.

    Thanks as always

  2. SquirrelKiller,

    You have selected the correct ranges for each of your rifles without my input. Whether or not you admit it, you already know the answer to your question.

    Caliber, pellet weight, iniutial velocity and barrel potential are all components to be considered. You could push your RWS 46 out to 50 yards if you wanted, but you would have to become twice as careful with your shooting technique.

    On the other hand, your Sumatra needs far less technique and would be a candidate for 100-yard shooting if the barrel were a little better.

    And that’s how you do it.


  3. Out of topic question. It seems to be hard to find Gamo Pro pellets (Pro Magnum, Pro Hunter, Pro Match, etc) in the USA, or at least it seems like they are easier to find in Mexico. Pyramyd only has Pro Magnum in .177

    Would you know why?
    They seem better made than the regular Gamo pellets while still less expensive than most other brands, it looks like they would sell well. But I don’t know match, what is your impression on those pellets?

  4. I haven’t considered this question before but I can observe that the Gamo Match is a fine target pellet – despite the low cost.

    Pyramyd has carried every Gamo pellet the company has offered them. Sometimes a company will reserve certain brands for larger accounts like Wal-Mart and Dicks and keep other brandfs for dealers like Pyramyd. They are the larges airgun dealer in the U.S., but they don’t compare to the big box stores.


  5. B.B.,
    Funny, but today’s post was perfectly timed. I have been struggling with my new .22 B40 for over a month now and don’t think I have unrealistic expectations, but need a reality check. I have a Gamo Shadow 1000 that, now that I totally reworked the barrel hinge, will hold an honest .60 group at 25 yds with BKs and JSBExact. I am happy with that. But the best I can muster with the .22 B40 is 1.10 groups at 25 yds with RWS Hobby (770fps) and Beeman FTS (720fps). 10 yds groups are .50. Several other typically good pellets all shoot worse groups. Velocities are consistent (+/-10fps or better). BKs are down at 580fps; isn’t that slow?. I’ve tried several different shooting techniques, cleaned the barrel, cleaned and deburred the internals, honed the cylinder, adjusted the trigger to get a nice 2 stage operation (it was WAY off), and done what I can to the best of my limited knowledge and ability. The barrel nut is tight. The gun probably has 1000 shots through it by now. The last thing I did was push pellets (several brands) through the bore. They all went through VERY easily and barely left rifling marks around the very bottom edge of the skirt. No discernible rifling marks at all on the front diameter, even looking through a loupe. Does that mean the bore might be oversize? I would be very happy if this gun could shoot groups at 25yds as good as my Shadow 1000. I feel like I must be missing something. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks very much,

  6. “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts!” – by unknown

    Hey B.B.,

    Just kidding!

    Your 20-yd. ten-shot group with the Panther and CP pellets was real nice too. Had you called that single low round a flier I could easily have accepted that. I’ve sorted/weighed CP pellets (boxed ones) so I know there are some with weights far from the nominal 7.9 grains.

    If one were willing to accept ‘magazine’ reloading, the a Crosman NightStalker, with a 3-pack of rotary clips, would provide 48 rounds of shooting fun. The cost would be just a little over $100.

    Thanks for the reality check.


  7. Pestbgone,

    I think the pellets not engraved with rifling is a real clue as to the problem. I have seen bad barrels come from Shin Sung with the same problem, and Career barrels were usually the best on the block. RWS Hobbys should certainly engrave the head as they pass through.

    It sounds like your rifle is perfect except for the barrel. What does the dealer say? Will they swap barrels for you?


  8. B.B.
    The RWS Hobby’s definitely didn’t engrave, nor did the JSB Diablo’s. I haven’t talked to Pyramid about the barrel yet because I first wanted make sure it wasn’t me, or something that I did, or some misconception I had. I really like the B40 and want it to work out, so I will give Pyramyd a call. They are always good to work with.
    Thanks very much,

  9. B.B.,

    LOL! Well now you’re just being silly! But, thanks for the encouragement.

    I still have a pretty good short term memory and I’m fairly adept at looking stuff up. Makes me seem more knowledgeable than I am, I suppose.


  10. Pretty harsh on the break-barrels, there, BB! I can tell you that my FWB124 will post one out of three five shot groups at under 1″ at 50 yds – and I am not a brilliant shot by any means. Average group size at that range is 1.1″, again w/ “Ol Shakey” at the trigger. So, long-range inaccuracy is not intrinsic to break-barrels – just to the current crop of break-barrels.

  11. Steve,

    You know, I forgot the 124, but still a 1-inch group with any breakbarrel at 50 yards is a wonder.

    I should dig out my 124 and see what it can do at that distance.

    I also overlooked the Diana models 60, 65 and 66. The 66 went on to become the sidelever model 400 and then that turned into the model 75.

    Those breakbarrel were probably capable of one-inch groups, as are HW55s, Walther 55s and Walther LGVs.


  12. B.B.,

    I just spent most of my day off enjoying my Benjamin 392 I got from Pyramid Friday. I ordered it with the Williams peep sight and also ordered extra apertures from Brownell’s. I can say for sure the 7/8″ outer diameter ones don’t fit on this rifle set on the lowest elevation. The 1/2″ are the largest ones that will. The .050 inner diameter target apertures work pretty well. You can get a single 1/2″ X .050 aperture for 10 bucks. It will be all you need.

    With the new sight, a chronograph and 13 different pellets to try many hours passed quickly. I found that the Beeman Kodiaks at 21.1 grains work the best in this rifle. They’re not the fastest at 550 feet per second but they produce the most power at slightly over 14 foot pounds and are darn accurate.

    I remember you saying this rifle wasn’t meant to have a scope. Besides the fact it doesn’t have a rail, where a scope would go is the best place to put your hand to pump it. I was holding it by the pistol grip at first but it felt like my shoulder was going to separate after a while. I also applied 3 layers of self-adhesive felt to the underside of the pump handle to quiet it down and keep the surface of the pump tube from getting marred.

    It was interesting to see the velocity increase as the gun broke in. When I first tried the Kodiaks, it was doing only 480. 20 or 30 shots later and a few drops of Pelgun oil on the moving parts, 550 feet per second is what it topped out at.

    I’m glad I bought this interesting air rifle and would like to thank you for mentioning it.


  13. B.B.

    What are your thoughts on the new Raptor Performance Ballistic Alloy? They say it increases velocity up to 25% over lead, while maintaining “match grade” accuracy. As well enableing airguns which normally shoot 1000 f.p.s. to shoot up to 1200 f.p.s., with tremendous penetration. I hear only good things about this stuff. Do you have any idea how this would do with a Talon SS… I have been looking at the Talon for a few days now and wondering about the mixed reviews I have read…
    I shoot for consistency and the occasional target of opportunity. I have bad luck with scopes on break barrels, if you can even get the break to line up right. I have been shooting 2 inch groups at 40yds iron sights, even those are to big to refine they cover a tuna can at that distance. I need a scalpel….

  14. raptor talon guy,
    it seems to me as though you new to the blog because it seems as though weve gone over this many times. raptors will increase velocity but you throw away you accuracy in doing so. pushing a pellet that light above the sound barrier causes lots of tumbling and innacuracy. airgun pellets were origionally designed to be shot at 300 fps and the it went up from there. when a pellet goes supersonic it creates turbulance in front of itself because the air cannot get out of the way quick enough. this air forms a sort of wall that the pellet must break through. this is what creats a sonic boom, the pellet, bullet ect. breaking through that wall of air.also a heavier pellet might be able to resist this tumbling but a 5 grain raptor cannot. if you are using this pellet in a spring gun the result will be similar to a dry fire and the piston will slam into the front of the chamber causing damage. in a condor i believe these pellets will get around 1600 fps. this is roughly 400 fps above the sound barrier depending on where you live.
    i think a talon will give you most of the accuracy you are looking for. im accually looking at one myself. of coarse you could blow $2500 on an olympic gun but i think that might be a bit out of reach. i think the talon will be a very accurate gun if you can shoot it well. im looking at the leapers 6-24×50 to go with it. hope this answers your questions. if i missed anything please feel free to comment back.
    Nate in Mass

  15. Raptor,
    I chronyed some Raptors (5 grns) in a Gamo Shadow 1000. MV was 1134fps, but dropped to 982 at 26 feet. By contrast, Beeman Kodiaks (10.6 grns) had an MV of 786 and were still at 756 at 26 feet. BKs gave excellent groups; Raptors, not so.

  16. bb,

    my 1077 has never given me good groups…i have a veriety of pellets, and the best i can get is 4″ at 20 yrds…im getting MUCH more accuracy out of my break barrel. its only about 6 weeks old, and only gone through about 300 pellets…what do you think the problem is?


  17. And if you click my name, you will be sent to the NRA website where they did a review of the nitro 17 & recon. Not a very comprehensive one though.

    I’ve decided to stick with my gamo recon for now since it does the job nicely at even 20 yards/60ft.

  18. BB,

    Great review of what should be expected. And to everyone else, don’t be like me, read up about things, do your homework, and then ask questions about the air rifle. It really should be common sense. If you are not familiar with air rifles then just think of rimfire rifles, like a .22 rimfire. My .22 Marlin using remington 36 grain bullets traveling at 1280 FPS and a range of over a mile, and me being a good shot with no wind and a rest can very seldom get a half inch group at 50 yrds. So think what a 10 grain deformed pellet traveling at 700-900 fps does at 50 yrds, like i said, common sense. Please read BB’s blogs and learn about airguns before asking him questions, he is very knowledgable and definately knows what he’s talking about! Thank you.

  19. Raptors,

    I wondered about the new Raptors, so I tested them. The did go faster, but not as much as Gamo said they would. A CF-X got to the mid-1100s.

    Accuracy was horrible! But I have received comments from readers who say they get acceptable accuracy with Raptors.

    I tested them for penetration and they did not penetrate as deep as a lead pellet at the muzzle. Downrange they will penetrate even less because they shed velocity so fast.

    I did find Raptors to be the best pellets in a smoothbore Marksman pistol.


  20. Dave,

    Something is wrong with your new 1077. At 20 yards all shots should be on a penny at the largest.

    Are you using Crosman pellets? The 1077 really likes Crosman pellets.

    You may have a bad barrel – it does happen. Only Crosman can fix that.

    Have you contacted the dealer?


  21. John,

    That write-up looks like a Dope Bag article. Big advertisers like Gamo get Dope Bag articles as thanks for being good customers. I’m not suggesting the article is anything but true, but they are never as large as a real article.


  22. B.B.,

    What can you suggest for long range accurate spring rifles? The TX200 and the Diana 54?

    Are these two the best ones (we don’t need to break the bank do we)? Are there any more worth considering?

    Also, does the Diana 54 really handle like a PCP? or does it handle MORE LIKE a PCP than other springers?

    Thanks B.B.

  23. bb,

    i got it from pyramydair, and no, i havent contacted either them, or crosman. ive tried crosman premiers, gamo match, daisy pointed, crosman pointed, and non gave me good results. ill talk to them later today.


  24. bb, i read your forum often and have found it very helpful, i live in new zealand and recently purchased a brno zbrojovka vz47 bolt action spring gun in .177 lead BBs the seller said it was used by czech army cadets as a training rifle it shoots about 250 fps to load it you drop a bb into the resevoir and work the bolt. I have so far beeen unable to find any information on it, can you help, i know that a few were imported by century arms in the 80s

    keep up the good work

  25. trapshooter,

    Lucky you! The VZ 47 was a training rifle made until 1950.

    You can drop many LEAD BALLS (not steel BBs) into the ball reservoir under the stamped metal sliding cover. The VZ 47 is a .177 (the Blue Book of Airguns says it’s 4.46mm) lead ball shooting rifle. You pull the bolt handle up and then rock it back to pull the mainspring into full compression. One one lead ball will feed with each operation of the bolt.

    You can oil the leather seals by dropping 5 drops of oil into the muzzle and standing the rifle on its butt for several hours. That will give more compression. I think you’ll see speeds up to the 400s.

    I had a 47 and the earlier VZ33 that was finished much nicer. Both are pretty accurate at close range. My 47 was serial numbered in the 15,000s so they made quite a few.

    Compasseco, here in the Statyes, imported several hundred in the 1990s.

  26. I enjoy reading your articles. I however would not imply that 50yd, 1″ groups are THAT hard. I think it is really quite relavent to what the shooters expectations are. What rifle is he using? Hows the weather, is the rifle acclimated. All screws tight, pellets weighed. How are your optics, sportsman or 4200, 5X or 24X. How stable is your table, your rest etc. How well do you KNOW your gun, etc. I think people that straight up want to pick up a rifle and shoot 1″ or less 5 shot groups need to develop a routine that really stresses the little things. I love your blog and articles but after reading this one I got the feeling that 1″ groups or less at 50yds is a rarety with springers when, pending on person and his setup and standards, might be the norm.
    very respectfully

  27. B.B.,

    I would like to know how the standard 3000 psi high pressure floor pumps are basically designed (general)? Does the pump basically operate like any other floor pump except it is built with heavier gauge steel, etc. to withstand the extra high pressure? Or, is it something completely different using complex valve systems, etc. (along those lines)? I would just like to thank you for running this blog as well as YOU do, I also find all of your articles very informative! Thanks!

  28. Jack,

    A high pressure hand pump is really three pumps nested inside of one another. It is extremely complex, though the concept is simple.

    Every pump stroke passes air from one pump to the next. The air is compressed three times in succession, with the output being potentially the pressure at which the pump is rated. What it actually is depends on the resistance it meets with in the reservoir it’s filling.


  29. Rubbish, I just come in from shooting at 100 yrds with 7.5g pellets with all pellets in a group at 1inch or less using springer.

    This was a windy day.

    4 of the shots hit within a 1/2inch group when they hit the reactive explosives.

    I then set up a target at 130yrds and hit a bull.

    I can normally hit a clay pigeon on the ground at 100 yrds all day long.

    All this from a sitting position on ground.

    Happy air gunning


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