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Education / Training Hammerli 490 – Part 3 Another great youth rifle

Hammerli 490 – Part 3 Another great youth rifle

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Business first. USA Today is conducting a one-question poll about the Second Amendment. They want to know to whom you think it applies – to individuals or to states. Of course, they overlook the entire purpose of the Bill of Rights, which was to convince states to ratify the Constitution because, as originally drafted, it didn’t enumerate certain rights OF THE PEOPLE. No promise that those rights would be addressed later would assuage the states, so 14 individual rights were drafted as amendments. After negotiation, they were reduced to just 10.

If you want to weigh-in on this question, go here.

Let’s look at the accuracy of the Hammerli 490 Express. As mentioned yesterday, I already know the answer because shooting with open sights I already got dime-sized groups at 21 yards. I’m not that good a shot, and the sights on the 490 aren’t that special. The gun must be contributing a lot.

Cleaning the gun
Several readers chimed in yesterday and mentioned how they cleaned the exterior of their guns, and one person mentioned that he sent the gun back, partly because he felt it was too dirty. Vince commented that he removed some sort of preservative from the outside that was brown-colored, which might be what people are thinking is rust.

While the gun was out of the stock, I took the time to spray the metal parts with Ballistol and give it a good wipedown. What came off was brown-colored, but the blued metal underneath was still finished pretty roughly. If appearances are important to you, this gun won’t please you. For those who want a sweet-shooting airgun and can look past the finish, this one is a sleeper!

I should have also mentioned that the wood is dark red and without appreciable figure. However, it’s shaped pretty well and not filled with wood putty in a lot of places.

I shot from a bag rest using the artillery hold with the gun placed on the backs of my fingers. I was wearing my bifocals, so the front sight was easily kept in focus. The aim point changed from side to side, depending on the pellet used. Once I was on target, I didn’t bother keeping up with the changes. Since I couldn’t see where the rounds were landing, it didn’t bother me if they weren’t in the bull.

The first pellets I tried were Crosman 7.9-grain Premiers. After calming down, it was easy to keep five shots in close to a half-inch, despite the rather heavy trigger. The best group measures 0.497″, which is too close to a half-inch to argue. A benefit of the low velocity is that Premiers will not lead the barrel. You should be able to shoot indefinitely without cleaning the bore.


Five Premier 7.9-grain pellets went into this group measuring 0.497″ c-t-c at 21 yards.
Air Arms Diabolos
Next, I tested the new Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets – those new domed pellets from Air Arms that are made by JSB. They didn’t group as well as Premiers, but they showed promise. I’ll try them again with a scope. I zeroed the sights with these pellets.


Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets were well-centered but didn’t group as tight.
Finally, I tried RWS Hobbys, which grouped almost as good as Premiers. They shifted over to the right about 2″, but the groups were small and round, which indicates an accurate pellet.


RWS Hobbys were almost as tight as Premiers.
Firing behavior
The rifle fires without much vibration. There’s some, but it’s over pretty quick. There’s also a pronounced but light forward recoil.

Quick appraisal
If the 490 had shot these groups while scoped, I would be recommending it to you. The fact that it did so well with simple open sights is an eye-opener. I once called this rifle a “poor mans R7,” based on velocity. Well, it’s also one based on accuracy. If the trigger could be lightened, the rifle would be even better; but, looking at the design, it doesn’t look like a simple fix will do it.

Next, I’ll scope it and we’ll see what it can really do.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

48 thoughts on “Hammerli 490 – Part 3 Another great youth rifle”

  1. I appreciate the heads-up on the political side of things. Looks like so far most agree that the second amendment DOES give us the rights to bear arms. Others argue that the wording is vague, but that may be due to the “dialect” they used back then (try reading an original Last Of The Mohicans) as well as the founding fathers probably never anticipated a world where some lawyer would try to disarm us for all the wrong reasons. Either way, keep us posted on happenings, and good plinking. JP

  2. Try buying anything not being made in China these days, it’s tough.

    That’s great accuracy and from open sights to boot! Nice. Good to see another inexpensive air rifle that works well and is easy to use. There should be more of them.

    If the person who doesn’t like inexpensive air guns made in China, maybe they should look at the Daisy 953. Well made, durable and shoots very well for it’s price.

    I hunt and have used air rifles for squirrels, but nearly 99.9% of the shots I take are at targets or just plinking.

    For under $90 I don’t think you can expect a wunderbar trigger. For that price you get more into the realm of just dealing with the trigger the gun has. On a personal note, I actually like my triggers to be a bit on the heavier side 4-5 pounds with some creep. I just tend to shoot better that way.


  3. sounds like a good gun. only problem is, im not spending money on something that cant hunt.
    interesting poll. by the time i got around to it, 97% had voted its for individuals. thats out of 391,822 votes! awesome!

  4. I can understand only wanting a gun that you can hunt with, but what about an air rifle that is so easy to practice with that it prepares you to use your hunting rifle?

    .22’s are wonderful practice for using the larger calibers. I shudder to think of shooting 100 rounds of shotgun slugs in a day, but would relish the thought of going through a brick of .22’s.

  5. You’ve got a point there – maybe I’ll sell my house so that I can get a Leupold or Swarovski scope.

    In any event, I suspect our anti-Chinese blogger was simply a visiting troller. I doubt we’ll hear from him again, at least on any sort of consistent basis.

  6. BB,
    Thanks for the link. It stand at 97% yes with 404508 votes. Things are looking hopeful:)

    I also had a question for anyone that knows. I want to take the stock off my CF-X to have a peek inside. I could only find one screw behind the trigger guard but there seems to be something holding it around the rotating breech. I do not see any screws. Any advice?

    Nate in Mass

  7. BB,

    Thanks for the cleaning information. Whatever perservative is on 490 appears to be hardened to a crusty film — I can see why some didn’t like the out of the box experience.

    It is funny that the real name of the rifle has “express” in it, because it reminds me –though its apples and oranges — of the 870 express: plain to ugly (depending on viewpoint) but you forget about it when you’re shooting.

    Nice shooting! Not surprisingly, you are a better shooter than I, even though it sounds like I got luckier with the trigger. I had decided that if you got over .75″ you were “phoning it in”:). I didn’t really expect you would do that, but I feared the variations in QC might cause a problem.

    I also like the fact that more than one pellet is reasonable — that was the fly in the ointment with Mendoza RM200 for me — it’s an hour’s drive to a good pellet selection (so PA gets my business).

    I think the notch in the rear sight could be narrowed a little bit, but it is a nice quick sight for plinking. Do you think one of the Mendoza or Beeman scope groove aperture sights would be worthwhile for target practice?

    The attitude of certain of today’s responses is the main reason I was dismayed when I found out 490 was Chinese.

    Why buy a gun that won’t hunt: to shoot. My old .22 LR hunts fine (don’t much anymore, though) and has almost as much knock-down power as the Hunter Extreme:). My little youth (I’m small for a linebacker, I suppose) air-rifle on the other hand can be shot any time or even all day without bothering anybody or getting sore.

  8. B.B.

    If you were going to choose between this and the Mendoza RM200 for general target and plinking, which would you recommend without the price issue?

    Scott T.

  9. Scott T,

    There is no price issue. Unless $20 is an issue.

    For plinking and general target shooting get the 490. It’s lighter to cock, and the pellets cost less.

    The Mendoza has the better trigger, but those .22 pellets cost a lot more, and you will be shooting a lot.


  10. BB,

    Those Mendoza sights look good, thanks.

    BG=Bluegrass the region (although the music is good too), just as you suspected.

    The linebacker thing was in jest…I’ve been laughing about me using a youth rifle. I was a decent center briefly before a bad knee injury in high-school, though.

  11. BB. I had my heat & air contractor try to find me som “DUCT SEAL”?? to make a pel. trap. He could not find it & needs more info.. Maybee I am remembering what I read wrong. Can you give me some info? Thanks, Tim.

  12. Tim,

    Time to change contractors. Duct seal is a mainstay of HVAC. They call it “thumb gum.”

    Maybe you have a new guy who has only worked with tape as a sealer. Dust seal goes back to the days of metal ductwork.

    A good hardware store should be able to get.

    Heck, Pyramyd AIR sells it right here:



  13. BB. Thanks for your quick responce! The two ac. contractors I use , use what is refered to as (MASTIC) & has the consistancy of latex caulk! Ive been using this co. for many years& cant fire him cause he cant get me some clay!LOL.!!Ill call him now & give him the ultimatem!! (HE owes me!) Thanks BB.! Tim.

  14. Dragonslayer – Check out the electrical section of your local homedepot or lowes (I’ve gotten it at both recently). You’ll find it hidden there somewhere in a small box, it can be hard to recognize as it comes in 1lb. rectangles that are wrapped in paper/plastic. Just for for everyone’s info. almost noone uses the stuff to seal ducts any more. Mastic works a lot better and it’s cheaper and easier to install. It does still occassionally get used to seal electrical penetrations because it’s paintable and has a UL listing number. Some people also use it to stop drafts, but it’s pretty costly compared to spray foam. What I’m trying to say is, the stuff just doesn’t get used all that much anymore and it doesn’t surprise me at all that your HVAC guy isn’t familier with it.

  15. ZKELLOGG: Thank you SOOO much my friend!!! I feel SOO much better now! My HVAC. guy runs an upstanding co. w/ a fleet of I guess 20 trucks. You must be custom home builder too?? (pretty obvious) Update: (DAVE) just called me to say he found it! (he thinks) Ill have some tom. 7 am.!Boy HE ALMOST got terminated! THANKS ZKELLOG !! Tim.

  16. Anonymous: There is no Cros. pcp.!What 22 MULTI & myself were refering to was a custom built one of our own design. A small co. makes one but I dont know much about them. If you research a little you can find them. I doubt Cros. has any desire to go pcp.. If you are interested in pcp,,, check out, PYRAMID AIR, they HAVE what you want!!! 177 cal. to 50 cal.! Did you do like Ive done bfore & accidently sighn in anon. or do we know you?? Good luck.Tim.

  17. Dragonslayer,

    I’ve been looking for duct seal too. Looked at local hardware stores, Home Depot and Lowes. Home Depot’s web site said that my local store was supposed to have it @ 1.98/lb, but all I found was Mastic.

    … I think I may know why I couldn’t find it. It is Gardner Bender Duct Seal. I just looked up Gardner Bender on the net and they sell electrical supplies. I’ll bet Home Depot has it in electrical instead of plumbing/ducting!

    .22 multi-shot

  18. Nate in Mass. Dont use any lubes! Im like you & waiting for BB.s, responce to your ?.(wrong lubes WILL damage your gun!) My understanding is only aceptable lube for mainspring is black tar grease,(for high power guns like yout CFX.) BB. WILL answer you SOON! PLEASE WAIT FOR BB,s answer!! Dont be like me & damage your gun! Wait for BB,s answer& save yourself some time & $! (If it aint broke dont fix it!) Sorry had to say that! Dont have a CFX but,BB.s tests say it,s good & Im shure! Lets see what BB. says! Tim.

  19. Duct seal guys,

    Just do like BB says and get it while PA has it in stock. Or if you can’t wait that week for delivery, try your local electric supply house. I got 16 lbs. for about 20 some odd dollars at one a couple of months ago. Electricians use it more now than anyone else.

    I like Chinese clunks. They are great to hone your airgunsmithing skills on without fear of screwing up an heirloom!


  20. Kevin,

    Thanks for those links. The Benji Discovery looks like a nice foothold into the PCP market for Crosman.

    BB, I know that your schedule is pretty full, but do you think you can squeeze in a review of one of these too?


  21. One man’s clunk is another man’s treasure!

    B.B., in-depth reviews on the breadth of airguns that are available from the cheapies to the most elite is great so keep up the good work…but you already knew that. 😉

    Last night I was reading through Dr. Beeman’s article “Field Use of an Airgun” and I thought this sentence was interesting:

    “The forearm, especially on spring piston airguns, must be very securely held by the shooter’s hand.”

    That seems to contradict the artillery hold. Thoughts?

  22. One other thing I forgot in my last post. Can anyone recommend a good book on rifle shooting technique? “Ways of the Rifle” seems to be recommended. B.B., what would be your favorite?

    Thanks in advance to all!

  23. Yes! Thank you Crosman! A PCP WITH pump for under $400! Sounds like someone has been listening.

    Thank you Kevin for those links!

    BB, this wouldn’t be related to your AS392T experiments, would it?

  24. TRC,

    That comment of Beeman’s was what prompted me to write the Beeman R1 book. I offered an article on the artillery hold to Beeman for hise next catalog, but he never responded. He did consent to write a chapter for the R1 book, however.

    Yes it contradicts the artillery hold, and it is wrong.


  25. KEVIN: THANKS SO MUCH!! Great review by Jim! I would have NEVER dreamed, Cros. pcp.! Hope they can make enough of them! I WILL be buying one! This is BIG news! Cant wait till monday!! Thanks again from me & others Im sure. Tim.

  26. 22 MULTISHOT: Can you beileve it? Cros makes us a pcp.?? W/ pump no less!! Can you imagine the mods. posible!! Are you thinking what Im thinking,, 2250 pistol w/ 18″ brl.! THIS IS GOING TO BE FUUUUNNN! Thanks for all your input on this blog! Always look forward to new info from airgun people like yourself here! P.S. not shure if you like springers that much, but I saw today that RWS has some VERY interesting new guns! (Pyramid Air of course!)Tim.

  27. BB. Im pretty shure your the main catalyst behind this latest pcp venture by Cros. Thank you!! BOY can you keep a secret! I cant tell you how much this suprised me! My first gun (almost 40 yrs. ago) was Cros. 760 w/ real wood, & rifeled? brl.. Even at that age I took it apart & modded it! (Dad helped me polish brl., like I still do today!) Even w/ all my airguns, my go to gun now is a Cros. G-1 !! Thanks BB.! Waiting for Monday!! Tim.

  28. Dragonslayer,

    Yah, that is what was going through my mind. I already have a wish list just around this gun – LOL!

    One thing, note that the tube is as long as the barrel and the barrel is between 23 and 24 inches.

    I am kind of limited on my airgun purchases so I haven’t picked up a springer yet. I’m hoping, one of these days…

    .22 multi-shot

  29. BB what size target is that?i want to try group like that with some of my clunk.
    this rifle is cheap enough to not worry about clunking it around a little and damaging the finish or getting a little chink in the finish.
    well good review

  30. 22multi: yes I saw the brl. vrs. chamber. I was thinking of cutting & re do or also the aftermarket that is SHURE to follow this gun!! I always look for brl. to extend past chamber, for AHEM, add ons?? Good shootin Multi, Tim.

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