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Education / Training Quackenbush Outlaw .457 Long Action – Part 2

Quackenbush Outlaw .457 Long Action – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, I’ll share the power and accuracy I’ve achieved thus far with my .457 Outlaw Long Action. Before that, though, we’ll look at what the rifle was doing with the original 25″ barrel. I had to shoot several bullets to find the right one for that barrel, too. I went through five different styles, lengths and weights before settling on a 330-grain bullet recommended by Randy Mitchell. Here’s a phenomenon I noted. The second shot always went several inches above and to the left of the first shot. I’ve seen that phenomenon before with big bores – in fact, it seems common to me. With all the bullets I tested, I noted the first and second shots on the targets.

Sight-in was done at 50 yards, even though this rifle is accurate much farther. Eric Henderson, who hunts with a Quackenbush .308, regularly gets prairie dogs beyond 150 yards. Larger game is taken out to 100 yards pretty commonly. Most of the bullets I shot grouped inside 2 to 3 inches at 50 yards, but as I mentioned, first and second shots were several inches apart. Not to worry – there’s a field expedient for that, after we find the right bullet.

Typical dispersal of an unsuitable bullet at 50 yards. Note that the three first shots all grouped lower than the second shots.

Fill level
You might think 3,000 psi is the standard fill for all big bores, but there are no standards. In the past, I’ve tested certain Quackenbush rifles, only to have my reported velocities trumped mightily by someone else filling to a higher level. I use an 88 cubic-foot carbon fiber tank that holds a 4,500 psi charge, so it’s no trouble to fill over 3,000. However, during the testing I did with the 25-inch barrel I was getting my tank filled at a local shop that was underfilling it by about 900 psi! That makes a HUGE difference in how high you can fill and also in how many shots you’ll get from a tank. They charge $6 for a fill and I was only getting 20 shots before the tank pressure fell to 3,000.

Here are three first and second shots on a 3200 psi fill with a 440-grain lead bullet. The first shots are the tight group at the bottom. Too much dispersion on the second shot, though, for this bullet to be considered.

Since I was working the ideal fill pressure from the bottom up (that is, first 3,000 psi, then 3,200, then 3,400) and also testing many different bullets, I didn’t get very far. I did confirm that my particular rifle likes a fill to at least 3,400 psi. By the time I discovered that, I could no longer fill that high. So, back to the shop for more air and try it again. I hadn’t yet discovered what this shop was doing with the fill.

A different 400-grain bullet did this from the 25″ barrel on 3200 psi. This is going toward the usable range, but we’re not there yet.

On the second trip to the range, I was able to go to 3,400 psi right away, and there were only two bullets left to test. The last one (the 330-grainer) proved to be the best, Groups were under an inch at 50 yards. This bullet had the closest spread between the first and second shot groups. First-shot velocity was 791 f.p.s., and second shots were going 725. Shot one was producing 459 foot-pounds, and shot two made 385. That’s great for game weighing under 300 lbs. However, just as I was getting close to sighting-in this rifle, other things intruded on my time and the rifle had to be set aside for a while.

The 330-grain bullet on 3400 psi from the 25″ barrel showed some real promise.

During the time I wasn’t shooting, Dennis said he had my 33″ barrel ready, so he shipped it and I installed it. Then, Eric Henderson invited me on an exotic sheep hunt in central Texas. There were only a few days to get ready, and the weather wasn’t cooperating, so I had to wait for a good day to sight in. Of course, all bets were off, now that the barrel was changed. I went back to the same paintball store I had been using and got another tank of air and when the one good day came, I went back to the range. Naturally I tried the same bullets as before, the bullets that worked well in the 25″ barrel, only this time they were all over the place – as in missing by feet! I said three feet in the first report, but after examining the targets it was more like 14″. I also tried a 330-grain bullet Dennis recommended, but it printed no better. There was no way I was going hunting with a rifle I couldn’t trust to hit closer than 14″ off my aimpoint at 50 yards!

I missed the hunt, but I also went to a different paintball store for the next fill, and the results were dramatically different! I’m now up to 28 shots on this fill and I’m still filling to 3,500 psi, which seems to be the optimum with my rifle. I tried all five of the bullets I’d been given, but nothing wanted to group as well in the longer barrel, so I slugged the bore. That means ramming a lead bullet or ball (balls are much easier) down the bore and measuring the diameter after it comes out. My bore measured 0.4585″, which drove me to ask Dennis why he calls the rifle a .457. He says he should have called it a .458, which is far more common in black powder bullet sizes, but no matter to me. I already cast my own 412-grain .458 lead bullet for a .45/70 Trapdoor Springfield, so I took that back to the range. To my delight, it groups very well! Perhaps, it isn’t the most accurate bullet for this rifle, but I would have no reservations about hunting with this one.

The first five bullets I tested on the left. The small one on the right of that group is the 330-grain that worked well in the 25″ barrel. The group of two at the right is the 412-grain bullet that works best (so far) in the 33″ barrel and another 350-grain copperplated lead bullet I have yet to try

This is a four-shot group of the 412-grain bullets. Four shots are not conclusive, but we seem to be headed in the right direction. I shifted the aimpoint of the duplex reticle between shots one and two to get this group. This group measures approximately 1.25″ between centers.

Velocity on shot one is 783 f.p.s., and shot two goes 734 f.p.s. That’s 561 foot-pounds on shot one and 493 on shot two. After shot two, the gun’s pressure dropped from 3,400 to about 2,200 psi. This is ample power for the hunting I’ll do. I plan to hunt deer, pigs, boar, exotic goats and sheep and anything else in that general weight range. Someone asked if I’d hunt a bear with this rifle, and the answer is “no.” It’s true a rifle like this could decimate a small 90-lb. honey bear, but I wouldn’t trust it on anything larger – even a small black bear. Read Lewis & Clark’s adventures shooting grizzlies with their .54 caliber rifles, and you’ll see why I say that.

Dennis Quackenbush is working toward an air rifle with the muzzle energy of a .50/70 black powder round. That’s a .50-caliber 425-grain bullet leaving the muzzle at around 1,200 f.p.s. (from a 32″ Springfield barrel). That’s 1,359 foot-pounds, and such rifles were very successful buffalo rifles in the 1870s, sometimes taking bison at ranges up to 500 yards. It’s a lofty goal for an airgun maker, but I wouldn’t bet against him.

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.

64 thoughts on “Quackenbush Outlaw .457 Long Action – Part 2”

  1. BB

    great blog, i love the big bores even though ill probably never own one. I am very interested in ballistics and i have a few questions for you. Firstly, are you able to record the speed of the bullet at say 50 yards? If so, me and other nerds could work out the trajectory of these beasts. My guess is, that as they travel so slowly they drop pretty fast. The bullets BC, however good cant really make up for their lack of speed, at least thats what i imagine. Secondly, i live and shoot in Europe. Here we are not allowed to hunt even wild boar with less than 1500ft lb rifles as the experts claim that you get too many runners. If they are correct, how can you possibly hunt buffalo (usually hunted with safari rifles with excess of 5000ft-lbs) with an air rifle with 500ft-lbs at the muzzle, and a lot less at 100M (maybe 250ft lbs?)


  2. BB

    as i cant ammend my above post, this will be the correction!!!
    After playing with some ballistic software, and assuming the bullet has a similar BC to that of a .458 Lott cartridge, the remaining energy at 100 yards will br about 490ft lbs. The bullet would have also dropped (assuming the barrel was horizontal) 30 inches.
    Assuming the rifle was sighted in at 100 yeards, by 250 yards the bullet will have dropped 121 inches below horizontal (though still holding 408ft lbs), so I assume that the max usable range would be around 200-250 yards?


  3. Paul, no-one using Big Bore air-rifles will be shooting at 200 Yards. Most of the shots will be in the 50 Yard range. As for shooting Buffalo, it is simply the same principle that the Hunters of the Old West used: a big, slow moving bullet will drop a large animal such as a Buffalo although it will probably not be instant. If the animal takes a few minutes to bleed out and has to be tracked, that is usually deemed acceptable. The best comparison to make with Big Bores is that they are very, very similar to hunting with bows and nothing at all like hunting with modern firearms.

  4. Thomas,

    Have you called Crosman yet? Phone: 1-800-724-7486 They can certainly fix it or tell you which repair center to contact.

    We’re going through the same thing with a 3 yr. old Gamo viper right now. Except I want to fix it but couldn’t get a spring from Gamo.

    It’ll get squared away. If you really get into a bind, I’ll bet some of the readers can even do the repair.


  5. Thomas,

    Once again, I already answered you. The list on which you posted is longer than 200 responses, so you have to click on the Newest responses to see them.

    I said I was forwarding your complaint to Pyramyd AIR for their resolution and I asked you for the chronograph readings of the velocity, now and before the crack.


  6. Good News BB, I spoke with a Crosman CS agent, explainned the problem and the mistakes leading to it, and was told to send it in for repair/replacement. She was very helpful, understanding, and most of all courteous. Hope it’s not ruinned to the point of replacement….then I’d have to break in another one. This experience will be a positive plus when I get to writing my “official” review for the Sierra on the Pyramyd AIR page. Best wishes to all, Thomas

  7. Paul,

    The only way to record velocity at 50 yards is with a chronograph. It can be done, but it ruins chronographs to be hit with large bullets.

    Anyway, this was already done by Sam Fadala (who destroyed several sets of skyscreens) in his black powder books, so I have the data.

    Thanks for the offer.

    On the muzzle energy issue, energy isn’t the only thing that kills. Penetration is equally important. For instance, a .222 Remington has more muzzle energy than this .457, but could never kill game as large, because it hasn’t got the penetration.

    Whenever only one factor is taken into account (energy, in this case) the formula for killing power always gets skewed.


  8. Paul,

    You really are interested in this! Your figures are pretty close to reality. No one has taken a shot at larger game at 200 yards yet, but plenty of prairie dogs have been taken at almost that far.

    Lewis & Clark carried .54 caliber rifles that shot round balls. At 100 yards, they retained around 400-450 foot-pounds of energy. They killed many bison and American elk (wapiti, like a European red deer, only much larger). Of course they tried to get as close as possible, but undoubtedly many were shot at 100 yards.


  9. On the subject of big bores, has anyone ever heard of this:


    Now, I know why I shoot airguns….

    Does anyone have advice for an aspiring high power shooter? I’m going to be trying out a Winchester 94 30-30 this weekend. I’m planning to hold it in tight to the shoulder and experiment with a forward leaning stance but otherwise do everything the same as for my airguns. The techniques for low power are working fine with my B30 which I’m using to train myself for firearms.


  10. henry

    I meant to ask yesterday what you think of your Ed Brown rifle. I’ve only heard of Ed Brown as a maker of 1911s. His rifle catalog made for some lip-smacking reading.

    As far as the ultimate, most accurate rifle that is not a pure custom job, I wonder if it would be the G. David Tubb rifle made by the super long-distance shooter that jim in Kansas introduced me to. You would think Tubb would know about accurate rifles. His model is a bolt-action magazine fed rifle with the ergonomics of the M-16/SR25 and has a very light fast action. Looks pretty cool. You have to call for pricing which I didn’t bother doing since I’m sure it is astronomical. Could this be the ultimate….


  11. Matt61,

    The .30-30 cartridge has a low recoil, but the 94 Winchester carbine accents (something less than amplifying) it because of a narrow buttplate and light weight of the gun. You won’t be hurt at all. I’m betting it will be enjoyable.

    That You-Tube segment has been up for months. That’s a powerful rifle and those men were not prepared for it. They limp-wristed an elephant rifle – something you NEVER want to do!

    A .30-30 is a plinker in comparison.


  12. B.B.

    The .30-30 had better be a plinker in comparison to that thing. So, is it important to keep the wrists stiff too?

    Does the Quackenbush Outlaw have no recoil as a PCP in spite of its caliber? That would be a real advantage over high-caliber firearms.


  13. Matt61,

    No. Limp-wristed is an expression. You don’t have to keep your wrists stiff when shooting a recoiling rifle.

    To see the amount of recoil a .457 Outlaw has, watch the big bore video attached to my article. The second shooter is shooting a rifle very similar to it.

    And Matt, recoil always feels worse to the shooter than it looks to an observer.


  14. Matt,
    BB’s right (of course) about the 30-30: they’re fun for a centerfire and effective on deer at realistic ranges. Unfortunately it seems that everyone wants the ability to bring down a bison and print sub-moa groups at 500 yards. I like the Marlin 336’s better for actual use if you have a chance to look at them.

  15. I have many questions about the Gamo Viper/Shadow express. Is the Viper built to last? What are structural design flaws? How accurate is it with pellets? Was a good way to relode shells ever reached? Will the barrel jam up with larger shot? My crosman 66 barrel(smooth bore) jamed when I put 13 #8 shot in it. I bought a second that I use #2 steel shot in that works perfectly.

  16. B.B.

    That recoil in the video looks mild enough. If recoil is worse than it looks, those guys shooting the T-Rex must have really been hurting.

    bg_farmer, yes, I’ve heard of the Marlin centerfire as generally superior to the Winchester 94, but I’m looking at the Winchester mostly from a historical viewpoint. Yes, fun is the goal here….


  17. Anonymous, the only real bugaboo in the Gamo powerplant is the spring. Everything else seems to hold up very well over time.

    The spring can be fixed one of two ways – a Maccarri spring with custom guide as used by Charlie-da-Tuna and Rich in Mich, or a Crosman Quest replacement spring and tophat to replace the Gamo pieces.

    Frankly, that last solution is my favorite. The parts are cheap, the Crosman spring seems to last reasonably well (never had one break), and best of all – the Crosman spring is a tight fit on the Gamo guide and almost always reduces the buzzy and twangy firing behavior of the Gamo.

    Why on earth Gamo doesn’t slightly resize their spring to match this one I’ll never know…

  18. Gamo Viper Express,

    The first thing is to call the gun by it’s right name. If you don’t, your internet searches will not be as productive.

    The gun is well-made and reasonably accurate for a smoothbore pellet gun. I got 1.5-inch groups at about 15 yards with the best pellets. If you are thinking of shooting pellets, The Viper is much better-suited to it than the Viper Express.

    As far as loading goes, the heavier wad that has the greatest resistance will work best. The gun needs some resistence to work against.


  19. Savage Sam,

    To my great surprise, I have never done just a regular report on the AirForce Condor. I have done 55 reports in which the Condor figures. Three important ones are here:




    I will soon rectify this oversight. So if you have any specific things you want to know, now is the time to tell me.


  20. G’day BB,

    I have just come home from the range and need advice. My Theoben Eliminator’s trigger will not fire yet rifle remains cocked.
    It seems that the push forward safety is the culprit, it seems loose sideways. I have not pulled anything apart yet. Is it a simple fix? Is it common?
    I didn’t even get to see if cleaning barrel after Iosso Bore cleaner (remember cant find BJ bore paste here and it appears nothing liquid, even Hoppe’s Gun Oil can be mailed from US and your Firm does not ship to Oz)
    I have never taken this air rifle apart…yet.
    Cheers Bob

  21. Sorry BB,

    That blog I just sent was way too vague!!!!

    1 Assembled uncocked air rifle has the safety towards the trigger = safety on = no trigger movement at all.
    2 Assembled uncocked air rifle has the safety towards the trigger the barrel = safety off = first stage of trigger pull present.
    3 Assembled cocked air rifle has the safety towards the trigger the barrel = safety off = first stage of trigger pull present but no second stage as hard as you want to pull it
    I removed the trigger guard and found the safety catch could be pushed further towards the barrel and the first and second stages were present so I could fire the rifle. So basically with the trigger guard off the rifle can be fired.

    I guess once the ram is compressed and the safety needs to be pushed further to fire so it may be something to adjustment or something broken or worn.

    As a matter of interest what torque settings do you use on the different sizes screws and what type of “lock tight”.

    Cheers Bob

  22. Sorry BB,

    2&3 Assembled cocked/uncocked air rifle has the safety towards the barrel = safety off = first stage of trigger pull present but no second stage as hard as you want to pull it.

    So much for my pasting, i just cant type that fast.

    Cheers Bob

  23. B.B.,
    Great blog! This .457 seems at least as sensitive to bullet selection as the small airgun calibers are to pellet selection. I guess all big bores exhibit a fondness for one particular bullet? The effort to find the right bullet is tedious, but certainly looks well worth it! Great shooting, B.B.!

    BTW, I got the Fadala blackpowder books you recommended and after reading the chapter on twist am guessing the 457 is something faster than 1:36? Looks like all the different bullets you fired were at least stable, if not accurate. If the twist spec for the 457 is on Q’s site, I guess I missed it.

    If the pressure dropped to 2200 psi by the third shot, the valve must be keeping full pressure on all the way to the muzzle. That thing must be really loud!

    If he gets his goal of 1200fps out of a .50 caliber, that will be something to behold! He’ll have to use everything he can get out of 4500psi, I guess. Straight .50 cal, no sabot? I haven’t read about the sabots yet, but am curious to learn about how they affect accuracy.

    Enough questions for now!
    Thanks again,

  24. Bob from Oz,

    I’m assuming that you have solved your safety problems. That’s good, because I had nothing to say. I’ve tested the guns and owned one, but the safety never was an issue on mine.;

    As for torque on screws, less is better than more. Try to get along with the least amount of tightness you can, because once a screw is stripped, you have to deal with the problem.


  25. Pestbgone,

    Read Fadala again. A 1:36 twist is for round balls. A .458 (calling it by the correct size) twist rate is around 1:20 or 1:18.

    These rifles are loud, but nothing like the crack of a centerfire round like a .30-30. You don’t have to wear hearing protection with these.

    Sabots allow a shooter to fire a pistol bullet in a rifle caliber. The bullet if shorter and lighter, so the twist rate is more appropriate than a caliber-sized lead bullet. For that reason, they tend to be more accurate.

    Yes, big bores are fond of one particular bullet. Find it and shoot nothing else – just like pellets.


  26. Hi BB,

    I live in the UK and am looking for my first air rifle.

    It will likely be a Weihrauch. I read your Weihrauch post but the R1 is not available to me at the moment 🙂

    Would that mean you recommend the 80 for a new airguner?

    There have also been some new releases since 2005 I think. Any advice? They all seem to be similarly priced.

    Thanks a lot,

  27. I have a 22cal RWS Panther..I have about 500 shots thru and its still quite hard to break open. I have to slap the muzzle twice to get it to break..cocking ok but its wearing my hand out. I thoight maybe the intent that catches the ball is to long and making it hard to open…any ideas.

  28. Tom, remember that the stiff lockup on your Panther really contributes to good accuracy, especially with a scope. The lockup is the week point with a breakbarrel, and few things can make it more frustrating to shoot than a lockup that isn’t reliably tight and consistent. So ya might wanna count your blessings!

  29. G’day BB,

    I have discharged it but the rifle will not shoot with the trigger guard attached? I can only discharge it with trigger guard detached which allows further movement of the safety forward.

    Guess its time for the gunsmith!

    Cheers Bob

  30. BB,

    Thanks for a great blog! As usual! For thse who might think you can’t kill an elk with one of these measly 500 ft/lbs energy guns, consider that a compound bow only carries around a 100 ft/lbs. It’s the penetration and bleed out that does the killing. Given some peoples ingenuity, we’ll soon be killing elephants with air rifles!


  31. JW,

    Mainsprings are parts that don’t have to fit exactly. And BSF rifles have evolved into HW rifles, so there are plenty of mainsprings that will fit.

    Have your friend contact Jim Maccari at his Air Rifle Headquarters and he’ll have a spring for him.


  32. B.B.,
    re: bigbore questions
    Thanks for the additional info.
    Regarding the twist rate, I will study further in Fadala’s books. Now I can see where the 1:18 or 1:20 will give an appropriate rps for that bullet and velocity.
    Guess I was looking for a nice neat table or formula with caliber, weight, sectional density, MV, etc, that would then magically pop out the perfect rate.
    He does say that the only real way to know if the twist is right is to shoot the bullets.

  33. b.b.,

    I have seen that one, that video makes me want a big bore air gun all that much more. There are a few vids on youtube about Castelman but little else in the way of information out there. I suspect that there are not that many kicking around out there for you to test. If I just had the machineing skills!


  34. Jerry,

    The last group is all you need for hunting. However, I am still experimenting.

    The offset for the last group is the amount of difference in my duplex scope from center hold to holding on the bottom aimpoint. It was a lucky coincidence.

    I have not shot that gun since this report.


  35. BB,
    This is a bit OT-Well it is about a PCP the Benjamin Discovery, so not too off topic. I have heard that the pump shipped with this gun is not all that well made, in fact one web site mentioned that they were having an 80% return rate! Tell me it ain’t so! 8-( Do you have another recommendation?
    Michael in Georgia

  36. Michael,

    Where did you EVER hear that? It’s simply not true. The Benjamin pump is made as good as any on the market and a darn sight better than the FX pumps, which is why it’s rated to 3600 psi instead of 3000.

    About 2,000 of these pumps have been shipped with very low return rates. And of those returned, a common problem has been the removal of grease from the outer tube, which will cause seal failure.

    Another problem was the pressure gauges that were damaged in shipment. That problem was addressed and I believe has now been solved.


  37. BB,
    Here is the quote:
    “We do not sell the Benjamin pump. While the rifle is made in the USA, the pump is made in China. We’ve learned from the past 15 years of selling airguns that the Chinese pumps have nice price tags, but the niceties stop there Chinese pumps fail quickly, normally in the first two months of use. Even now, we had a customer report that Crosman (Benjamin) told him that 75% of the pumps have come back for service already, and they have stopped supplying pumps outside of the combo due to the problems. The combo SKU is forcing them to continue to sell the pump despite the issues.”

    I received this On 26 July, from a store that also sells over the internet. I could send you the name if you like, but this kind of made me skiddish about the gun. I thought it was kind of extreme, which is why I wanted to check with you.
    Michael in Georgia

  38. Michael,

    Perhaps I can shed some light on this. There is a Chinese copy of the FX pump that is well known as crap. It gave all Chinese hand pumps a bad name.

    But I have been in contact with the most senior people at Crosman and they tell me the pump is doing fine. They would have changed sources if the problem were a fraction as great as that internet dealer says it is.

    In the beginning, before they ever shipped a pump, Crosman was testing every one before they made it ready to ship. They found a number of defects, many cosmetic only, that they rejected. As I told you, the pump gauge was really the only serious problem they saw and that was solved before the pumps were shipped.

    This is the same pump AirForce ships with their guns and it has a splendid reputation. I think that internet retailer has some bad information.


  39. BB,
    Thanks for your interaction. I will probably get this gun, unless you think they might develop a repeater any time soon. I tried a .177 at a local gun shop and it was way less than Pyramidair has it for, or anyone else for that matter. If they could get it in .22, that would be my source. If not, it seems that everyone is selling it for the same price,so Pyramidair will be my source.
    Michael in Georgia

  40. BB,
    Hmm. Sounds like Crosman is too. I guess that would mean that the responsible person would order it from a responsible vendor, like PA, right?

    Michael in Georgia

  41. BB, thanks for all the energy you put into this blog…superlative.
    I just received my brand new DAQ 458 LA Outlaw (standard nominal-25" barrel), which I intend to use for hunting medium/large game…and I'm very eager to get started!
    Would you help me with a couple basic questions, please:
    1)To date, what have you found to be the most precisely-grouping bullets (diameter, weight, soft or hard…something I can purchase ready to shoot, rather than mold myself…a specific vendor and part number if possible)? Options and rationale?
    2)What fill pressure would you recommend I start with as I experiment with these bullets in my rifle?
    Thank you again for what you do!

  42. Mike,

    I am the reason Dennis started calling this rifle the .458. Use a lead bullet sized .458 or .459. If it is unlubricated, all the better. The lube isn't needed.

    DO NOT use a hard cast bullet! It will only lead the bore. Use one that's cast 40:1 lead:tin and no antimony. At the hardest use 30:1 — no harder.

    And use something in the 350-420-grain weight range. Also try fill pressures of increasing amounts. My rifle likes a fill of 3.500 psi and gives two good shots.


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