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Education / Training Hammerli 490 – Part 2 Another great youth rifle

Hammerli 490 – Part 2 Another great youth rifle

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, I’ll clean the barrel of the Hammerli 490 Express and shoot the rifle for velocity. First, cleaning the barrel. For those who have joined us recently…I try to clean the barrels of as many new airguns as I can. I can’t clean some of them, such as certain underlevers, sidelevers or repeating PCPs, so I just shoot them. After 500 shots, their barrels will be about as clean as if they had been cleaned the way I’m about to describe.

Cleaning the barrel
I only clean steel barrels, because brass barrels are too soft to clean this way. Use a new brass bore brush of the appropriate caliber (.177, in this case) and load it with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. Then, from the breech end, push the brush all the way through the barrel and out the muzzle; then, pull it back and out the breech. Do this 20 times, and you’ll remove all the burrs, rust and dirt left over from manufacturing. Even though a barrel looks bright and shiny, it probably still has rust left from the bluing salts and some rough marks from rifling.

This one was average – very dirty and lots of rust. By pass No. 10, the brush was moving easily in both directions. But, the looseness of the barrel joint was bothering me, so I removed the action from the stock and tried to tighten it. It uses a grub screw on the periphery of the main pivot bolt. The main bolt head has four cutouts into which the grub screwhead fits. The object is to tighten the main bolt, then lock it in place with the grub screw interlocking with one of the cutouts…except that was impossible. When the bolt was tight enough, the cutout didn’t align. When it was aligned, the barrel was too loose. So, I gave up that idea and just lubricated the gun.


Here’s the 1000-word picture showing how the grub screw locks the pivot bolt.
Because of the rifle’s low-rated velocity (495 f.p.s.) I oiled the mainspring as long as the stock was off. It appeared dry, so I dropped 7-8 drops of Rem Oil (a gun oil made by Remington) on it. Having done that, I also put 3 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil down the transfer port. I don’t know if the piston seal is synthetic or leather, but at this low velocity, it really doesn’t matter. Petroleum oil is fine, in this case. I could have used the Rem Oil, as well.


This is where the spring oil goes.
Velocity testing was revealing!
The rifle appeared to “wake up” in stages as I shot through the chronograph. Ill show you the first spring shot with 7.0-grain RWS Hobbys, and you’ll see what I mean.






That performance suggests there might be a leather seal in this rifle, because it seems to be gaining pliability and greater sealing capacity as it goes. My observations didn’t end there. Crosman 7.9-grain Premiers were next.

Crosman 7.9-grain Premiers
The breech fit for Crosman 7.9-grain Premiers was very tight, so I expected this pellet to wake up the piston seal some more. It didn’t disappoint me. The first shot was at 536 f.p.s. – exactly where the lighter Hobbys were shooting. That suggests that the greater resistance of this heavier pellet further improved the sealing of the piston seal. The low was a shot at 533 and the high went 553 f.p.s. – the same as the Hobbys! That’s remarkable.

Air Arms diabolos
Next, I tried the heavier Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets that are made by JSB I have the ones with the 4.52mm heads. Surprisingly, velocity didn’t seem to go down by that much, even though this pellet is another half-grain heavier than the Premier. It’s an 8.4-grain pure lead pellet that fits the breech very easy, so there might have been reduced friction at work. The low shot went 523 f.p.s. while the fastest went 540.

Send in the clowns!
Okay, now it’s time for the trick pellets. What’ll she do on Raptors? Nothing! That’s right, the gun wouldn’t shoot Raptors out of the barrel! One did escape at 283 f.p.s., but that was it. Crosman Silver Eagle hollowpoints went from a low of 522 f.p.s. to a high of 652, with no indication of detonations. Clearly the Hammerli 490 Express is not a rifle that likes trick lightweight pellets.

More than appearances
Just as clearly, the 490 Express is capable of speeds greater than 495 f.p.s. The last QB-18 I tested was even faster, but it also required another 5 lbs. of effort to cock. Remember, this rifle cocks with just 13 lbs. effort. I’m looking for youth rifles, so I’ll take the lighter cocking.

Who’s your daddy?
Okay, as I write this I have already shot the 490 for accuracy (with open sights, only). If you have an extra $90 jingling around in your pocket, get one. We’ll talk more about it later this week, but just trust me this time.

37 thoughts on “Hammerli 490 – Part 2 Another great youth rifle”

  1. Ah, yes – the 4 position breach pivot bolt – that IS a carryover from the old B1/B2 series. There’s another rifle I’ve had recently that used a similar arrangement, but I can’t quite remember which. Although that one had 8 positions instead of 4. On the B1/B2 series, I found that if you sneak a thin washer of the correct thickness under the screw head you’ll change the “tight” position of the bolt enough to lock it with the screw.

    Your experience with the Raptors in this thing – sounds like the alloy is harder than lead, making it more difficult to force the skirt past the breach and to engrave the rifling. Either that, or the pellet is REALLY oversized. If it’s the alloy, will these pellets wear the barrel bore faster?

  2. Vince and Starion,

    It’s the tough PBA material that kept the Raptors from shooting.

    Vince, Diana used an 8-position grub screw lock and so did other German makers. I will probably try to shim the bolt to get the tightenes I want.



  3. Please feel free to remove this if you feel it will taint your review, but I purchased a 490 and returned it because of three “perceived” problems. First, the bluing on the barrel was very uneven and it was already speckled with rust right out of the box. Second, inside the plastic wrap the rifle was covered with a fibrous dusty material (possibly a broken packet of desiccant) that had already worked its way into the spring and cocking mechanism. Third, the rear sight needed to be adjusted almost all the way down, which left the adjustment screw completely blocking the front sight. Yes a cleaning and a minor modification would correct most of these issues but instead I returned the rifle to pyramid Air who took it back without question and issued full credit. While I understand a $90.00 air rifle is not comparable to some of the higher quality products available, what is the difference between the 490, and the similar inexpensive Chinese imports you see advertised for less that $50.00?


  4. When I opened my recently received my TF89, I noticed a fair bit of uneveness and brown speckling on the finish – my Dad really thought it was pitted.

    Turned out to be a very tough preservative that did NOT come off with either WD-40 or 3-in-1 oil. I sprayed a little carburetor cleaner onto a paper towel, and that took it off nicely. The bluing underneath was fine.

  5. Everyone,

    I’m not rating the 490 high for appearance. It’s not well-finished. But it does shoot. You can’t expect to get a $300 rifle for $90 these days. That’s what makes the Mendoza RM 200 such a bargain.

    But hansome is as hansome does, and tomorrow you will learn how well this rifle can shoot.


  6. Hi B.B.

    Sorry this is entirely off topic but I can’t find this topic anywhere. Are there any minute differences between 12 gram CO2 cartridges? My new 586-8 manual says only use cartridges from Umarex for correct fit….surely this is just marketing BS.

    I thought I remembered reading somewhere that Crosman has a little bit of Pelgun oil in their cartridges…?



  7. BB,

    Velocity: I was guessing over 500 fps with 7.0 grain, good to see I’m not always wrong. Its refreshing to see an underrated velocity spec.

    You did indeed answer my question about the breech block; the stars aligned and a locking recess was compatible with less barrel flop on mine, though; seems like variations are pretty common. I also lubed the piston with 2-drops silicon oil (thought it was synthetic). After about 30 shots of sub-par shooting, it settled down. What surprised me was that the Daisy Precision Max’s (cheap and locally available) went from “Punkin Chunkin” to pellets touching (but not through the same hole). I had already been happy with the RWS Basic accuracy (for what they are) before. Maybe the piston did need lube (I am well over 500 shots). Someday, I’ll learn to do one thing at a time.

    I’m a little confused about the appearance comments, but I may have made a decision in the beginning that affects that: mine as mentioned was dirty out of box. What I cleaned it externally(wood and steel both) with was a mix of 30W HDEO and PowerService fortified ULSD Diesel (I’ve got gallons of both), which is not corrosive enough to hurt anything but will take dirt and even any rust scale if any off pretty good. Both the wood and metal on mine looked good (and stayed that way) after that — its still in the economy gun category, not Weatherby, though. I’m not recommending this mixture (and DO NOT put it in chamber or even on spring!), BTW, just trying to figure out what’s going on.

  8. Vince,

    I’ve been hoping you will let us know how the TF89 works out. My wife likes shooting the little 490 so much that she wants her own air rifle. I’ve got an interesting one on order (QB88 — mainly because its short) — will likely need your help/advice on that!

  9. Jay,

    I used to think Crosman put oil in their cartridges, but they corrected me on that. They don’t put in anything but liquid CO2.

    I’ve seen the powerlets being made and filled and nowhere on the line is there an oil station.

    Are there minute differences? You bet. And, since only a few companies in the world actually MAKE CO2 cartridges, Umarex (Walther) probably buys theirs from one of them. That means they can switch vendors from time to time, and for my money, that doesn’t equate to a specialized item.


  10. BB,

    Sounds good, thanks. I’m eagerly awaiting your accuracy report to see which pellets to order…been using the cheapest ones to break in and practice. BTW, I know I should have JB’d the bore, but I’m nervous about doing damage (most barrels get cleaned too often IMO) and figured a few hundred pellets would gently lap it.

    Thanks again for giving every gun a fair shake — you’re amazing that way. Just to clarify, if I offer any conflicting report on my gun, it is because I think there are some variations, not because I’m challenging you.

  11. Dear BB…

    My cleaning rod came with a nylon brush… is it any good or do I need metal one? Got a Talon…

    By the way, when will your book be available? What will it cover?


  12. B.B.

    An accurate gun for $90? I can’t wait to here more.

    The Raptor experience makes me wonder about procedures for clearing jammed pellets from a barrel. I’m guessing that one should try to push it out the muzzle than the other way. And since the pellet catches the rifling as I understand it, is it typical that you need to use some force to push the pellet out? How much is too much? And is there a tool to use besides a rigid cleaning rod?


  13. Yet, Crosman customer support answer me by email that they do have oil.

    Maybe they don’t intentionally put oil in there, but there may be some rests from the tank building?

  14. Vince,

    My wife is barely five feet, so I would say her arms are pretty short. She doesn’t care about power, but cocking effort needs to be reasonable and I’ll probably have to work on LOP, even for a short one.

  15. rimugu,

    A Crosman engineer guessed that there might be some oil remaining on the inside of the powerlet cartridge from the forming process. He said that was the only oil the powerlets have, and like I said, there isn’t an oil station in the manufacture process.


  16. BG_Farmer, the Gamo Delta might not be a bad bet. LOP is a smidgen over 12″, which is why I bought it (for young shooters). Cocking effort is something around 16-18lbs. Trigger is a non-adjustable version of the Gamo, I believe that the GRT trigger will fit. Velocity (on the one I have here) is about 530fps with CPL’s.

    On the down side it’s twangy and there’s a LOT of plastic – the entire lockup yoke is plastic, as is the stock and barrel shroud. The same construction is also used on my more powerful “Sporter 500”, so I suspect that it would hold up.

    BB, what do you think?

  17. BB,

    i got a squirrel at 86 yards today and 65 yesterday. Both with a .22 rapid mk2, both Clean kills of course. LOL Again, from a bench. Makes the gun feel more like a tool than a sport. GOOD, because a swear i have a problem with squirrels! I have a flat roof and they treat it like a jungle gym.

    Not related to airguns but soooo funny.

    outside of Duncan Donuts there was this guy saying “too crazy for me” over and over just waiting for someone to pay attention to him. Upon walking in this lady runs in and says “do you have rainbow bagels?” and the guy at the counter says no. She then walks behind the counter and starts searching for “rainbow bagels” my brother was in there and she walks up to him and asked him if it was a “rainbow bagel” and it was an everything bagel. She wouldn’t leave, Strange!!! She was just out of her mind insane. Stumbling around saying “rainbow bagels” like a zombie.

    I guess they are bagels with food coloring in them but I’m not sure.


  18. BB. : Great report on 490!! Only comparison I have is my exp. w/ Gamo Ricon, WHAT a FUN little gun! As to your findings on PBA. & Silv. Eagles,Mine too! ( I think they are too hard & inconsistance size, makes lower power not able to “swag”/ seat skirt) I had identical results as you !! (CLEARLY not pells. for 500 fps. guns!) I registerd right at 19 lbs cocking effort, just as P.A. specs. (Did it on bath scales like you said!) (First time I did this!!) Will buy high end digital scale now!! Learned more than you will ever know today by your post! (IE. lubes that you used) (On lower power springers) This little Ricon is a SWEET little shooter & VERY accurate! You must PLAY w/ one! Cant beleve it,but, scope moves, had to use stop pin mounts! As Ive said in past posts, I dont think you will be dissapointed w/ Ricon! Keeping on subject,(I rarely do) I think this is a GREAT youth gun, my 9 yr old grandson LOVES it!! Anyway, this thing will be taken apart & recieve the FULL Tim DA Tuna Turbo tune this weekend! (I Think I can take it from high 400,s to low 500,s) HEY WATCH THIS!!! LOL.! Tim.

  19. Rob Bob,

    The velocity isn’t a fixed number. It depends on the condition of the bore, as well. But above 900 f.p.s., Premiers usually start to deposit lead regularly.

    If you shoot a PCP and oil the pellets they don’t lead at all. If you shoot a magnum springer, they seem to start leading at even lower velocities.


  20. Vince,

    Thanks for the recommendation — I may still need it, in which case I will wait for BB’s review. I actually meant that I might need to ask you some questions about the QB88 if something comes up, since you seem to be particularly interested in these things.

    I’m always looking for an indoor project this time of year, so I figured I would spend $50 for the rifle and put some time into it for her. She’ll be happy to hit cans for a while, so as long as it goes puff, we’ll be fine. If necessary, I can re-do the stock easily and probably any metal-work as well: I made my son a toy rifle recently (the only thing that works is the sights, but it looked so real from a distance that I felt like I had to paint the muzzle orange) and enjoyed the mix.


    Sorry if this is off-topic or inappropriate. Just to tie it back to the blog — my wife wouldn’t touch anything more interesting than a red ryder before the H490.

  21. hello bb,
    i just started using my airforce condor after its been stored in a hard rifle case in the attic for eight months. It seems to have the valve lock problem that u’ve written about sometime ago, while it was working perfectly fine before hand. ive tried going from 3000 and slowly going down, but it seems that rifle just starts to become better just after 2000 psi; not even close to the 2600 psi u said that should be the minimum.
    im not sure what the problem is, ive kept the tank pressured at around 1500 psi and im using one of the airventuri pumps that pyramydair first put up online.a few days ago, i bought from pyramydair the crosman silicon chamber lube that should be arriving 2moro. thinking that maybe lubing the valve should help prevent the valve fro locking. will this help and is it safe to use(i read the article with the warning on the co2 lube and just want to make 100% sure i should be able to use the compression chamber lube in my condor’s tank)?
    many thanks

  22. Condor,

    Your valve spring has taken a set. Is your attic a hot place?

    The only thing to do is contact AirForce Airguns and have them fix the valve. They probably only need your air tank for the fix.


    DO NOT put ANY lubricant into your air tank! Only put air in. Lubricant can stop that valve quickly.


  23. BB,
    well i live in NY so the weather here isnt that bad, i would say the hottest i attic ever gets is maybe 80 degrees. also what exactly do u mean by the valve spring taking a set? thanks for replying and i guess ill have to call airforce now.

  24. I was thinking of getting a 490 and a qb18 in .22 and putting the .22 barrel on the 490,instead i figured on buying a diana 24 and then was outbid for the amount of $135.00,since i know where to buy a d24 new for $214.00 plus tax and shipping i think ill wait…instead for the meantime i bought an izh 61 to satisfy my accuracy needs till my d24 is in my arms…joy!
    Looking forward to hear how the 490 shoots and what ammo it likes.

  25. hmmm a little off topic but for the past 3 nights i have been hearing a disturbing noise somewhere between the sounds of a chicken and a pig combined,tonight i heard it again and quickly looked out my window and i was a fox!….running down the road making a strange sound indeed,never heard a fox before at least i know what it is now.

  26. Pentathallion,

    No doubt it would be possible to soup up a Hammerli 490 Express, but I am not aware that anyone has done it. The gun is so weak that it just isn't a good gun to use for this.

    On the other hand the 490 would be a wonderful gun to turn onto a better shooter. The powerplant could be smoothed and the trigger lightened and it would be a much better shooter.


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