BAM B51 – Part 2 A look at the “Chuntsman”

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Well, a very interesting day. You will recall that yesterday I checked the pressure in the BAM B51 and used a hand pump to add another 100 psi. I wasn’t sure that it was needed, because the gauge I used yesterday was different than the one I used to fill it initially a week earlier.

Out to the range
I packed up all my gear – rifle, targets, pellets, bench bag, carbon fiber tank, a pump to back that up, chronograph and skyscreens and shooting bench – and drove to the range. Got there, set up everything and decided to chronograph some pellets first. First shot with .22-caliber Beeman Kodiaks didn’t trigger the skyscreens, but the sound it made was similar to a blowgun being fired, as in very quiet. That’s never a good sign with an unsilenced PCP. Next shot registered 383 f.p.s. I knew for sure something was wrong.

Heed the warnings
There are warnings all over the internet not to exceed 3,000 psi with these BAM pneumatic rifles, so I thought the gun might be suffering from valve lock. But how could that be, when I just told you I had topped off the gun to 3,000 psi? As I’ve mentioned before, small pressure gauges don’t always read correctly and some guns can be severely affected by being overpressurized just a few hundred psi.

I dry-fired the gun several times, hoping to hear the report increase as I shot. It didn’t. It became quieter! The gun was out of air! I refilled it from the carbon fiber tank, and it seemed that it was almost empty. You can tell that because you can hear the inlet valve in the rifle pop open when the air pressure in the fill hose overcomes the pressure in the gun’s reservoir. I thought it did at about 200 psi. Again, I took it back up to 3,000 psi and then back to the chronograph.

Use a cheaper pellet
This time, I used Gamo Hunter pellets because they’re cheaper. I wanted to establish that the rifle was operating before shooting my more expensive Kodiaks. First shot was 407 f.p.s. – well under expectations. Second shot was 206! The gun had run out of air once more. Several dry-fires after that shot confirmed my fears.

Between the evening before and the morning I went to the range, this rifle may have become a leaker. I’m describing what happened so you can relate to this problem if you ever have it. I hope those of you who are thinking of getting into precharged pneumatics are paying attention to this.

What to do?
Okay, I may have a leaker, and a fast leaker at that. I could just stop right there, but now I will to try to solve the problem. When a rifle goes from holding to leaking overnight, as this one seems to have done, the problem is often because a stray piece of dirt or debris in the reservoir has gotten on the valve seal. If I could get the rifle to hold air, I would shoot it without a pellet repeatedly, hoping to blow the dirt out. But I can’t seem to do that.

I filled the male Foster fill nipple with Crosman Pellgunoil and then filled the rifle to 1,000 psi with my carbon fiber tank. I was hoping that the Pellgunoil would be blown into the reservoir and perhaps get on the seals, where the dirt would be floated off. This is a very long-shot proposition with about a 10 percent chance of success. It won’t fix an O-ring that may have sprung a leak. However, when I tried to fill the reservoir the pressure gauge went up too fast for the rifle to be empty. The Pellgunoil was gone, but no air seems to have flowed into the rifle.

Do NOT add Crosman Pellgunoil to a precharged pneumatic airgun as mentioned in the paragraph above. I have learned that someone once received a petroleum specification sheet with the Pellgunoil they bought that indicated it was straight 30-weight non-detergent oil. If that is true, it is very dangerous to introduce petroleum oil into a vessel containing compressed air. It can form a fuel-air mixture and become explosive. I believed that Pellgunoil is a synthetic product with a high flashpoint, but there is a good chance I AM MISTAKEN.

Incorrect diagnosis?
It turns out I may have been wrong about the rifle being out of air. It may in fact be valve-locked, after all. At the range I wasn’t able to hear the fill because of some noisy compressors, but in my office at home I did hear well. Air is not escaping from the rifle anywhere. And the reservoir didn’t get warm as I filled it – a sure sign the gun is not accepting air. Add to that all the warnings about over-filling this model and I think I may have the problem.

Here’s what I am saying. If the valve in the rifle I have cannot function with even 3,000 psi, then I may have caused valve lock by pressurizing it to that level. Either that or the inlet valve is stuck and refusing to open for some reason. The few low-powered shots I did get at the range have me wondering.

Here’s my plan. I’m going to stand the rifle in the corner and attempt a dry-fire every day or two. If I ever get one with air coming out, I will continue until the sound grows loud. I will do that for a week. If that fails to work, then, with Pyramyd Air’s knowledge and permission, I will disassemble the powerplant and see if the valve stem deflects down under any kind of hand pressure. If not, I’ll use a rubber mallet and a long piece of hardwood to rap out the excess air that’s in the reservoir.

When there is something additional to report, I will tell you.

BAM B51 – Part 1 A look at the “Chuntsman”

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we begin today’s post, I have to comment on the recent test of the RWS Diana 460 Magnum. This air rifle now tops the list as the No. 1 “trigger” gun in this blog. By that, I mean it triggered more responses than any other airgun. Based on all the comments, I have ordered a .22 caliber rifle to complete the look.

For the gentleman who wondered when I would be testing the RWS Diana 350 Magnum, I already did – back in February of 2006. Read the report.

For those who criticized the low velocities I reported, didn’t you read the other TWO velocity tests I reported? Both were considerably faster than my test rifle, and in the general realm of the advertised velocity. We need to get past this hype of velocity in a spring gun because it is meaningless without accuracy. And, the 460 is accurate. Compare the accuracy of the Gamo Hunter Extreme to the accuracy of the 460. The 460 is as accurate at 35 yards as the Hunter Extreme is at 25.

Now, on to today’s topic – the BAM B51 precharged pneumatic air rifle. I have one in .22 caliber, which is the only caliber Pyramyd Air currently stocks.

Why the “Chuntsman?”
The name is a slur of Chinese and Huntsman. BAM copied the Daystate Huntsman to make this rifle. Nothing wrong with that because most other single-shot PCP rifles are also derived from the Huntsman, which was the first modern PCP. The B51 is lighter in weight than my old Huntsman by quite a lot. The unscoped weight is around 8 lbs., give or take for wood density. The stock is quite a bit slimmer than the Huntsman’s stock was, and there may be dimensional differences inside the gun, where I can’t see, such as the wall thickness of the reservoir. At any rate, I like the lighter weight.

The wood is plain with straight grain, much like beech. I found only two small areas inside the thumbhole where it had been filled with wood putty. The raised cheekpiece is well-formed with sharp edges in the European style. A thick, black, ventilated buttpad is fitted well with only a few small overhangs. The stock has no checkering.

The metal is mainly steel, including the receiver and reservoir. It’s finished to a low shine, one step better than a hunter matte, and evenly blued. You would see a difference if comparing it to a Daystate Huntsman with its mirror polish. A muzzlebrake is for decoration only, though several new shooters have panned it on the forums because it isn’t a silencer. From what they said, it was obvious this was their first precharged experience and the loud report startled them.

The rifle has the vintage “swan’s neck” brass cocking handle of the Huntsman. It also has a rocker safety at the rear of the receiver. This is a single-shot rifle and as straightforward as PCPs ever get – by which I mean there is no air pressure gauge, no facility for attaching a repeating mechanism and no power adjustment. With this air rifle, you’re back in the 1980s.

Classic swan’s neck cocking handle and rocker safety is just like the old Huntsman.
There has been talk
Ever since this rifle hit the U.S. market, it has been hotly discussed and scrutinized. A fear of unreliability is one issue many have raised, and accuracy is another. We know the Chinese can rifle a barrel when they want to, but will they keep up the standard over time? Well, by waiting two years, I hope to find out. I was offered B50s and B51 a long time back, but I wasn’t sure they weren’t just set up to get a good review. I know where this rifle came from, and I know it is as random as can be. What I’m about to test should be the same as what you will get when you buy one.

Reliability – Does it hold air?
I filled the rifle to 3,000 and tested it for pressure a week later. If it lost any pressure, it wasn’t more than 100 psi, which took 11 pump strokes to replenish. I say “if” because I used two different gauges to test the pressure at the two different times, and all gauges do not read the same.

The fill adapter for this rifle is a female Foster hydraulic quick-disconnect fitting with a male Foster on the rifle. A black-anodized dust cap covers this fill nipple between fillings. This is the best connection for a PCP, and several makers have now switched to it, so I am glad BAM decided to go this way. There’s nothing more frustrating than a new precharged air rifle that cannot be filled because you don’t have the right adapter.

With the dust cap removed, you can see the Foster fill nipple. All it takes is a Foster female quick-disconnect fitting such as the one on the right.
Next time, I’ll mount a scope, sight in and shoot for accuracy.

RWS Diana 460 Magnum – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 2
Part 1

Drum roll, please. Today, we’ll look at the velocity and power of the RWS Diana 460 Magnum. I know this is a big deal for a lot of people, but I have to say that after seeing how accurate it is, I don’t really care what the power turns out to be. Oh, and by the way, I’m testing a .177. I should have told you that in the first installment.

First up – Beeman Kodiaks
The Beeman Kodiak 10.6-grain pellet was the most accurate in the test rifle. Not only that, but it left all the others in the dust. I didn’t test each and every pellet for velocity – just a few important ones. Kodiaks average 822 f.p.s., with a spread from 817 to 826. That works out to a muzzle energy of 15.91 foot-pounds.

Next – Gamo Raptors
Ah! The dreaded Gamo Raptor PBA pellet! RWS advertises a top velocity of 1350 f.p.s., and to get that, most testers would choose this pellet. I got an average of 1145, with a spread from 1136 to 1155. All Raptors went supersonic, of course. The muzzle energy for this 5-grain pellet is 14.56 foot-pounds. I HAD to test the Raptor because everyone expected it, but I wouldn’t recommend shooting it in this rifle. The velocity is too high for best accuracy.

Finally – Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
The Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet is the “standard candle” of the airgunning world, to borrow a term from astronomers. It’s the pellet that everyone uses, so it’s the most likely to be in everyone’s cabinet. In this rifle, they averaged 945 f.p.s. with a spread from 940 to 946. Energy is 15.67 foot-pounds.

This performance is lower than expected based on the advertised velocities. I contacted Umarex USA and asked if this was correct for a 460 Magnum. They said it sounded low and said they’d get back to me, but that was several weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing. I spoke with a friend who owns a 460 Magnum and has taken scrupulous records of his velocities with various pellets. He actually owned two 460s, but the first one developed problems that caused it to be returned.

Where I get 822 f.p.s. with Kodiaks, he gets 881 with his current 460. To my 1145 f.p.s with Raptors, his first 460 posted 1225 (he hasn’t tested the current one, but the current gun is about a foot-pound more powerful than the first, so the Raptor velocity should be higher). Where my Premier 7.9-grain pellets go 945 f.p.s., his current gun averages 1050. Clearly, his rifle is more powerful than mine. His current gun was supposedly hand-selected by Umarex USA (according to what my friend said) after he returned the first 460, so I have to believe he is getting the performance the rifle is able to achieve. He is getting about three foot-pounds more energy than my test rifle, which I believe represents what a 460 should achieve.

Independent test from Pyramyd Air
I also contacted one of the technical reps at Pyramyd Air and asked him to test a new 460 Magnum for me. His results were Kodiaks averaging 905 f.p.s. with a string from 897 f.p.s. to 911. Raptors averaged 1285 f.p.s., with a range from 1269 to 1326. Two shots were clearly violent detonations at 1750 f.p.s. and 1849 f.p.s. Gamo’s Hunter Extreme has been trumped by these two final velocities, however they were detonations, just like Gamo uses to get 1600 f.p.s. This was a brand-new rifle right out of the box, and I would expect those velocities to settle back to around the level my friend has recorded.

If my conjecture is correct, the 460 Magnum has a bit more power than the 48/52/54 sidelever in .177. Perhaps in .22 it may develop even more power. If any of you have a .177 460, I’d appreciate hearing what kind of velocity you get with any of these three pellets.

Bottom line
The RWS Diana 460 Magnum is an exciting new spring-piston air rifle that has a lot going for it. Good looks, accuracy and reasonable power are all there. If you’re looking for a record-breaker, this isn’t it. If you want a fine air rifle, put this one on your list.

RWS Diana 460 Magnum – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

There was a good response to my question about a scope primer, so I will do it. I’ve probably written most of this stuff before, but this time I’ll write it with an eye toward chapters in a small book. Thanks for your input.

Scopestop asked me for links to all the scope posts I’ve made. Here are about half of them:
Sighting in a scope – Don’t get carried away
Where (and how) to locate a scope
Scope mounting height
Adjustable scope mounts
Another problem with scopes: Not mounting them correctly
Shooting with a pistol scope
Adjusting a scope
At what range should you zero your scope?
What causes scope shift?
Another cause of scope shift: over-adjusted scope knobs
More about sighting-in: How to determine the two intersection points
How to optically center a scope
Scope mount basics – part one
Scope mount basics – part two

On to the rifle!
Reader KTK advised me that the rear sight element can be switched to a square notch, as well as the U-shaped notch I criticized yesterday, and indeed, it can. Diana used to put four different notches on the outside of the rear sight, so you could see what was available, and I never thought to look closer on this one. A tiny Allen screw on the left side of the scope holds the notch plate. Flip it over and enjoy the other notch. Thanks, KTK!

I mounted a scope on the RWS Diana 460 Magnum using a prototype of the new RWS Diana scope mount I’ve been talking about that solves the scope stop situation. It works well, but there are a few more details to refine before it goes into production, so I wouldn’t put off scoping my rifle if I were you.

One thing I can tell you. When this new type of mount does become available, you’ll be able to scope any RWS Diana spring rifle in less than 10 minutes, not including sighting-in! It’s that easy.

I used two scopes for this test, because I was also testing the mount. The first was the UTG Tactedge 4×40 sniper scope that I think is such a great deal. The other was a Leapers 3-9x40AO scope with red and green illuminated reticle.

First shots
The first few shots were at a target in my backyard, where I’m limited to about 20 yards. Right off the bat, the accuracy was superb, because I started shooting with Beeman Kodiaks, and, as my testing later revealed, they’re the No. 1 pellet for this rifle.

This group of 5 Kodiaks at 20 yards got me excited and sent me off to the big range, in spite of the wind. It measures 0.407″ center-to-center.

The rifle kicks pretty hard and buzzes a little. But the T05 trigger is great – both light and crisp. I used the artillery hold, but this rifle isn’t as sensitive as a breakbarrel. There is no dieseling to speak of and the Kodiak pellets are definitely not supersonic.

At the big range, I initially started shooting at 35 yards. The 4×40 Tactedge scope was still sighted-in from home, but I did have to adjust it up a little. The wind was gusting 10-15 m.p.h., but those heavy Kodiaks flew true just the same.

This 35-yard group of Beeman Kodiaks measures 0.814″ center-to-center.

Then, I switched scopes to the 3-9x, but the groups didn’t get any tighter. Maybe farther out the more powerful scope would have been an advantage. I also tried JSB Diabolo Exact pellets, Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets, Logun Penetrators and Gamo Tomahawk pellets. None of these others were nearly as accurate as the Kodiaks.

While this was transpiring, the cocking became smoother, though not necessarily any lighter. I measured it again at home after 125 shots, and the scale now says it takes 44 lbs. of force, so just a quick shooting session dropped 3 lbs.

Finally, I pulled back to 25 yards and shot another group with the Kodiaks and the 3-9x scope.

This 25-yard group of 5 Beeman Kodiaks measures 0.379″ center-to-center. That’s smaller than the 20-yard group that got me started! This rifle can really shoot. The group looks like only 4 holes, but that hole on top passed 2 pellets. In your hands it appears larger and cleaner.

So, the 460 Magnum can shoot. It’s such a pleasure to shoot a rifle that actually helps you shoot well, rather than one that takes all the technique in the world to deliver adequate accuracy. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the velocity.

RWS Diana 460 Magnum – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I begin today’s topic, I have a question. Pyramyd Air is getting several product reviews in which the writer says he’s having trouble with his gun AFTER he mounts a scope. Before the scope, the gun shoots great. After the scope, it is inaccurate. One writer even said his gun was inaccurate until several friends tried it and got good groups. Then he decided he needed to learn how to shoot with a scope.

These comments tell me many shooters don’t really know how a scope sight works. They mount it on their rifle – often improperly – then assume the gun will hit whatever they place the crosshairs on. I’m not kidding!

Also, Pyramyd sales reps tell me they have certain customers who return scope after scope, claiming each one has a problem or problems. I wouldn’t tell you that no scope has a problem, but when as many as three fail in the same person’s hands, it’s unlikely that there’s a problem with all those scopes and more likely the shooter is doing something wrong or failing to do something necessary.

This is my question – would people having problems like this be likely to read this blog or is that ridiculous? Are they the least likely to ever read a blog about better shooting and so perpetuate the problems they’re having?

The last thing I want to do is to lecture readers who are already actively trying to improve their shooting skills with a bunch of remedial tips and pointers. So I’m asking whether you readers would like something like this – a tutorial on scope mounting that also includes how to shoot a scoped air rifle. I even foresee this tutorial being converted into a small booklet. Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind. Please let me know what you think.

The main event
Okay, today we start our look at the newest RWS underlever spring air rifle – the Diana 460 Magnum. Because of the number, 460, I had thought this was to be a newer version of the RWS Diana 46 underlever, but instead it’s a brand new rifle. It operates more like the sidelever guns, though there are some departures in design, too.

This is a big air rifle, make no mistake, but it isn’t the largest I’ve ever seen. At 8.7 lbs., it’s lighter than a TX200, and the stock is proportioned slimmer than what’s normal for a large air rifle. It’s much like the 350 Magnum, which is to say, very rifle-like. I equate it to holding an M1903 Springfield rifle. It just feels right. You have power without bulk, which is rare for a spring-piston rifle.

It’s 44″ long, which doesn’t make it the largest spring rifle, but it’s definitely on the big side of average. A thick, black, ventilated recoil pad adds to the length and helps make the pull length 14″.

Overall rifle
This is a large air rifle, despite my earlier comments. The exterior surface is nearly all deeply blued metal. The logos and model information on top of the spring tube are all in flawless silver. The wood stock is figured beech and sports the sharpest laser-cut checkering Diana has ever put on a rifle. I remember the days when their checkering was flat and slippery, but this stock is very nice. Both the pistol grip and forearm sport checkered panels.

The front sight is a ramp with post and the rear is an adjustable model similar to the sight on the 34 Panther, but without the fiberoptics. I like this one, except they put the wrong rear notch in the sight. Instead of a square notch to compliment the front post, they put a U-shaped notch suitable for a front bead. Someone at Diana needs to rethink that.

When the rifle is cocked, I noticed something else new. The beartrap release button on the right side of the sliding compression chamber slides with the chamber as the rifle is cocked. The stock has been relieved to allow the button to slide and is so thin at that point that you can feel it flex under finger pressure. So, protect this area when you handle the airgun.

Rear sight has crisp detents on both adjustments. You can see the long stock notch that accomodates the new sliding beartrap button.

Heavy cocking
The RWS Diana specifications say the cocking effort is only 36 lbs., but when I tested it on a bathroom scale, it measured 47 lbs. Some of that may go away as the rifle breaks in, but I doubt it will ever cock with less than about 43 lbs. This is a rare departure for Diana, who normally quotes cocking efforts right on the money.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue our look at the gun, and maybe we’ll get in some shooting.

BB’s yard sale!

by B.B. Pelletier

Mendoza aperture sight is well-made and a heck of a bargain!

Okay, something different today. Instead of a gun or accessory review, how about some inside information! In fact, how about a whole bunch of it?

Item 1. Mendoza sights
My long time readers know that when I tell you about a deal, it’s for real. Well, here comes a deal! Mendoza makes a diopter sight that compares favorably with the Beeman Sport Aperture sight, which retails for $63.25. When Pyramyd Air purchased Airgun Express, they bought a lot of these sights, and they’re just now making it to the website. The price of $19.99 is in line with Beeman’s price for their sight back in the 1970s! I have held this sight in my hand at the SHOT Show and worked the adjustment mechanism; it’s just as crisp as the Beeman. I’m buying 2 to put away for the future.

If you want an open sight instead of a peep, the same sight comes with an open notch at the same price. Both sights fit 11mm dovetails and do not have scope stops built in. I do not want to hear any crying six months from now when this deal is over (I have no idea when it will be over, but good deals do have a habit of expiring fast), so act now if this is something you need or want. Every target shooter should be acting on this!

These sights are well-hidden in the accessory list under the category LASERS, RED DOTS & IRON SIGHTS, and they are further buried near the bottom of the list, so it’s time to learn how the scroll bar works. Or, just follow the embedded links in this blog.

Item 2. Weihrauch HW 50 peep sights
Once, again, we have a peep sight. This sight is the rear aperture (peep) unit that fits the Weihrauch HW 50 and ever other Weihrauch spring-piston rifle (they all have the same mounting system). For you collectors, this sight is not the same sight Weihrauch used to put on their model 55 spring rifle. Those were selling for $135 by themselves 12 years ago, so understand that this is a different sight. It will fit, but it’s not the same configuration as the older model. Still, at less that $60, I don’t know how anyone can complain. This one is also listed in the same category of the accessories.

Item 3. The Pyramyd Air garage sale!
Pyramyd Air has a huge inventory of odds and ends, ranging from Turkish spring rifles they decided not to stock to boxes of parts for current and obsolete RWS Diana spring rifles. There are piles of broken airguns that no one has the time to fix. And, they’re finding more stuff daily as they clean out the five warehouse spaces they operate from. They’ve decided to all these things down to the International Airgun Exposition in Roanoke, Virginia. For two straight days (Friday, October 26, and Saturday, October 27), they’ll sell all this stuff to the public at incredible prices.

The Roanoke airgun show is the oldest and largest airgun show in the world. It even attracts collectors from the UK. Last year, there were over 140 tables of collectible airguns, plus some new guns. I know that’s small in gun show terms; but, when a single table may have $100,000 worth of collectible Daisy airguns, the magnitude of such a show comes into sharp focus.

This year’s show will be exceptional. In the Roanoke Civic Center, where the airgun show is held, there will also be a large gun show on Saturday and Sunday, so the shows will overlap on Saturday. The price of admission to the gun show guarantees admission to the airgun show as well, and they’re expecting several thousand additional visitors. Those people are not used to seeing an airgun show and many will be blown away by the huge number of collectible airguns for sale. Where a Benjamin 130 pistol in working condition might sell for $60 at the airgun show, it isn’t unusual to see the same gun going for $250 at a gun show! That’s going to make this year’s show interesting, to say the least.

If you’re interested in attending the airgun expo, it’s open to the public from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Friday used to be the best day to attend, because some dealers started packing their tables at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon (the show ended at 3 p.m.), but this year the airgun show will remain open until 5 p.m. to coincide with the gun show. That’s going to have a tremendous impact on attendance, sales and other great things. Call show organizer Fred Liady for table reservations ($45/table to the end of September, $60 after that) and visit the website.

Item 4. “Other great things”
What all collectors hope for at a show is a bluebird. A bluebird is a desirable airgun that walks into the show in the hands of an attendee. Several years ago, I was present when a genuine military Girandoni walked into this show and sold in the aisles for $3,500 inside 30 minutes. Just this year, a similar air rifle in slightly better condition was sold in a European auction for 38,000 Euro (over $53,500).

Original Girandoni military air rifle recently sold for over $53,500!

Another time I was FORCED to buy three Daisy Targeteer pistols and six metal tubes of shot for $100 (the guy REALLY needed the money!). I sold two of them and four tubes of shot to someone else at the same show (who also got a great deal, by the way) for the same $100, just to get my pocket money back. I have many more stories about bluebirds that walk into airgun shows, and the key to all of them is traffic. This show will have many times the normal traffic, so who knows what wonderful things will walk through the door?

Item 5. Podcast has been fixed
Pyramyd Air just discovered that the last several podcasts have had the incorrect links for downloads. You could listen to them online; but if you downloaded them you got the same old podcast from some time in August. That’s been corrected, so things should work normally from now on.

Item 6. New BB gun book
Gary Garber has just published a new book on Daisy BB guns made in Plymouth, Michigan. If you collect these guns or are just fascinated with them as I am, you’ll want this large-format, full-color, 414-page reference book. Contact Gary at [email protected]

The price for this soft-cover book is $60, plus $12 shipping by priority mail (in the U.S.).

New book about collectible Daisys by Gary Garber.

UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 sniper rifle – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Let’s get right to it. I’m impressed by the function and quality of this sniper rifle. Less than five years ago, I critically tested a Classic Army M24 sniper rifle very similar in performance to this gun. That one sold for close to $300 new, then had about $800 of extensive gunsmithing done, but it wasn’t as nice as the UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 from the box.

For starters, the Classic Army had a 190 mainspring and powerplant upgrade to get it up to the same velocity this rifle gets from the beginning. That made the bolt extremely difficult to operate (I can’t remember whether it cocked on opening or closing). The UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 is very nearly as easy to cock as the Marui VSR-10 G-Spec, which is to say, very easy, indeed. And, it gets 160 f.p.s. higher velocity than the Marui at the same time! That’s what I find fascinating.

Many shooters are wary about scoping a rifle, but if you use the UTG Tactedge 4×40 scope that I recommend, you don’t have to be. This scope comes with the rings already on it, and all you have to do is clamp them to the Picatinny mount on top of the receiver. If the rings are in the wrong place to mount, loosen one ring and slide it forward or back until the rings fit the mount.

Mounting the bipod
You’ll want the bipod mounted before you start shooting because not only does it provide a steady rest for shooting – it also makes a great stand for when you want to set the gun down. It has a Weaver mount that couples with the short Picatinny rail extending from the front of the forearm. Two rails are left after the bipod is mounted, so there’s room for a tactical flashlight and a laser. If for any reason you want to quickly remove the bipod, the entire Picatinny rail is released from the forearm with the push of a button!

Firing behavior
Cocking is surprisingly easy, as you know. The feed from the magazine is 100 percent positive. The trigger-pull is strange because the trigger is one of those modern two-lever blades in which the thin blade is the first stage, but it works very well and the second stage is a crisp and repeatable 4.5 lbs.

The power level of the gun suggests 0.25-gram BBs, though the literature also says 0.20-gram BBs may be used. At 20 yards, the 0.20-gram balls gave 10-shot groups larger than three inches, which is not good for a sniper rifle. It also indicates that no amount of Hop-Up adjustment will probably tighten the group, since the BBs are scattering so fast in all directions.

20-yard 10-shot group of 0.20-gram BBs is not what we’re looking for.

But, 0.25-gram BBs were quite different, as you can see. They proved that this gun can be very accurate despite its low price.

10 0.25-gram BBs at 20 yards made a group we can be proud of.

Long-range accuracy
Once I was on paper at 20 yards, I went to the range, where I shot at a full-size silhouette at 50 yards. The rifle shot too high, so I would want to shim the front ring to lower it, but the results were quite satisfactory. You don’t shoot groups at 50 yards in the 15 m.p.h. winds I had to battle, but the preponderance of the shots did hit the target. Those that missed were always the BBs with voids. You can tell when you shoot one of them because they spin off wildly in all directions. While there is an adjustable Hop-Up, the rifle was so on target, except for the elevation, that I didn’t have to adjust it.

50 yards on a windy day is far for airsoft!

Is this gun a good deal? You bet it is! If you’re looking for an inexpensive sniper rifle that still has most of the performance of an expensive tuned gun, try the UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 from Pyramyd Air.