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Education / Training A harmonic-tuning muzzlebrake

A harmonic-tuning muzzlebrake

by B.B. Pelletier

These seems to be a lot of interest in spring gun harmonics. The report on the B26-2 brought it out. Thinking back, my 5-part report about the Whiscombe JW-75 centered on accuracy based on adjusting the Harmonic Optimized Tuning System (HOTS). I demonstrated how a harmonic tuner on the barrel of a spring rifle can tighten groups. Maybe you haven’t read that report yet, so the link I provided will take you to the last part, where you’ll find links to the previous 4 parts. Read that entire report to understand how this vibration tuner works.

Many of you want to know more. Back in my Airgun Letter days, I tested both a harmonic tuner from Vortek, which was commercially available for several years, as well as a custom one made for me by Dennis Quackenbush. I mounted the Vortek brake on my Beeman R1 and tested the Quackenbush prototype on a Webley Patriot. Both guns showed improvement, with the Patriot showing the most dramatic results. I thought I’d share that data with you today.

Vortek harmonic tuner
Vortek’s tuner is a muzzlebrake that fits a variety of breakbarrel spring rifles including the Beeman R1 that had the Vortek. It’s a slip fit over the muzzle of the gun and three Allen screws snug it to the barrel. It’s very important to make this device snug; if it isn’t, it can’t do its job. It has to act as an integral part of the barrel.


Vortek adjustable muzzlebrake has three screws holding it to barrel and one lock screw for the adjustment. Unit is 5″ long.

At the muzzle end of the brake is a knurled wheel that screws in either direction, adjusting up and down an interior weight in the brake. The wheel has a ratchet mechanism, so you can feel when it turns. Where this weight is positioned determines how the brake vibrates, thereby affecting the vibration of the barrel to which it’s attached. The weight that moves is not a heavy one. An Allen screw locks the wheel in place once you have it where you want it.

I had to adjust the wheel a lot to see a small change in the group size. At the time I tested this device, the best .22 caliber pellet for my R1 was the Crosman Premier. I would imagine that has changed with the arrival of the JSB Exact 14.8-grain pellet, but I haven’t tested them in this gun.


With the tuner adjusted in a bad spot, this is the result of 5 Premiers at 20 yards.


When the tuner is adjusted properly, the same 5 shots look like this.

The Vortek is 5″ long and brightly polished and blued. All parts are made of steel.

As I recall, the Vortek device sold for about $20. It may have been a little higher. In those days (the late 1990s), airgunners were not as fond of breakbarrels as they are today. The TX200 and HW77 were the biggest sellers, and since they couldn’t use this device, the sales were never that great. It was commercially available for many years in the late 1990s, but the demand just wasn’t there. I don’t remember exactly when it stopped selling, but it must have been before 2002.

The other vibration tuner I tested was made for me by Dennis Quackenbush. It screwed into the muzzle threads of a Webley Patriot, where the Brits would attach a silencer. It adjusted via a large, hollow Allen screw that was also the muzzle of the brake. The weight that moved was very heavy – several ounces. It made dramatic changes in group size with Beeman Kodiak pellets. If memory serves, groups were reduced by half at 25 yards.

I no longer have this brake or any photos of it. It was about 7″ long and the weight was a knurled section about an inch long at the end. The brake was blued, but the weight was left in the white.

Dennis made the brake to test the effectiveness of the theory. He may have made more than just one, but he never made them for production.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

44 thoughts on “A harmonic-tuning muzzlebrake”

  1. Good Morning B.B. & All,

    Do you remember if the Vortek tuner lessened the noise level any, as well as dampen vibration. A combination would be nice, wouldn't it? You gave the idea that they were made to fit a lot of different barrels, am I right? And where would we find someone with a pile of them in the corner of their shop? It seems like a lot of the low to mid price point break barrels would benefit from this product. Maybe another product for leapers, they did the scope mounting base for the RWS rifles didn't they?

    I enjoyed part 5 on pellet speed and accuracy. That one was before I joined this blog. It makes me feel better about my desire to stay in the under 800fps range with all my air rifles. If they say they shoot a 1000fps, I use a 10.6 kodiak or JSB Exact heavy to slow them down.

    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  2. Wayne,

    No, they made zero difference to the sound of the gun. Yes, they fiut on many different models.

    A small dealer might still have one or two in stock. You need to call around.


    no manufacturer is going to invest the time and effort to make anything because it SEEMS like a good idea. This one was tried and failed because of a lack of interest. It had its day in the sun.

    The original manufacturer could probably produce them again if they saw a demand, but who is going to buy the first thousand?


  3. B.B.

    HHMMM, well maybe PA should buy the first thousand, and put them on the Avenger/mendoza line, and have them available for the other break barrels as an add on. It looked like they really helped groups!!


  4. B.B.,
    Interesting that one of the devices had a heavy weight and one had a light weight, but both seemed to function OK after a fair amount of tweaking.

    After you wrote the Whiscombe blog, I tried something similar with a doughnut shaped piece of heavy vibration absorbing elastomer hose-clamped at various locations along the length of the barrel. Testing was laborious and results were inconclusive, probably because I am not a very good shot. Someone with more skill and patience than me might get good results.

    My point is that I REALLY understand and appreciate the amount of time you put into all the testing you do. I am sure it can take hours and hours of work to get one paragraph worth of analyzed data.
    Thanks again and I hope to have the pleasure of making your acquaitance in Roanoke.

  5. I’d buy one just to try it out.

    Honestly, I never heard of barrel harmonics until just a few years ago when Limb Saver started making anti-vibration devices for rifle barrels. I have seen some stats and read what others think of them and they do seem to work.

    I have a cheap yet decent springer, and if an inexpensive add-on could give it the accuracy potential of the next model up, then I would definitely try it. I also think that several others whom shop at PA would be interested if this device was properly advertised.

  6. Good afternoon B.B. I have to agree with Mechredd and would also buy one to play with it so PA only 998 to go:). A Talon question please: would an Airforce tank with the Condor hiflow valve and 24″ barrel turn my Talon into a Condor or would spring(s) and hammer also have to be changed. Thanks much Mr B.

  7. Can you slide a slip on weighted muzzle brake in or out to change the harmonics somehow? Of course it probably wont’ be as precise as an adjustable threaded weight.

  8. Don’t worry B.B.

    (beach boys again)

    We’ll come up with our own answers, as best we can, kevin and bg-farmer will join in soon..

    Keep packing and planning your journey..

    Safe travels

  9. Ok guys,

    Were getting momentum here..

    All we need is a sign up list… we’ll get someones attention.. if the list of interest is long enough!!

    Aren’t you the “DatabaseKid”?

    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  10. I wonder how a sims limbsaver De-Resonator would work on an airgun. They are big, ugly and wouldn’t wirk with a muzzle break(unless you took the break off to slip it on) but they are only $18….

    Does anyone know how much cold weather affects springer performance and at what temp I should stop shooting one? I was not pleased with my shooting on Saturday outside…it was about 10F , no wind. I don’t know if the cold was effecting the gun or me the most.

  11. B.B.,

    Interesting article. Is there any device you haven’t tried?

    I understand the basic theory of barrel harmonics and know a proper design (like the boss system) can make a minor differance. In all due respect, the two targets in your photo could have been shot by me back to back and I don’t have a vortek device on any of my guns. Proper breathing, good trigger squeeze, better artillery hold, better follow through, etc. etc., could and do tighten my groups. Like the differance between your two targets in the photo.

    Having said that, I would be curious to try one with the following caveats. If the harmonic device looked like the vortek, was only 5 inches long (like the vortek), didn’t add a lot of weight, was polished and blued (like the vortek) and attached to the end of the barrel I would buy one and try it. If the harmonic device looks like the limbsaver and fits midway along the barrel to resemble a huge gob of snot then I would not buy one even if it guaranteed me hole in hole accuracy at 100 yards.


  12. B.B.

    I’m glad to hear that the device works. But from the weight of it, I suppose it would wreck all handling characteristics.

    Wayne, as for databases, it’s sort of like me and airguns. I’m much better at using (shooting) them than tinkering and building.

    How did your hunting trip go? I meant to say that looking at the targets you use, I see that the different-sized orange ones both have aiming lines drawn on them. That being the case, I think those lines count as the target and the surface area does not make much difference if any. My comment about small targets applied to the solid dots you were using.


  13. Kevin,

    Thanks for your review of lever-actions. It does make me wonder how much real performance has been gained with all of the advances in technology. I was away on a trip this weekend but not so much fun as Wayne’s.


  14. Matt61,

    I’m packing the car as soon as I’m done writing here. Josh will be guiding, and preparing, we hope (no elk tag). Nate with the Ruger .270 and me with the marlin 336rc 30/30 and wacko 8-32x56AO spotting scope on top, (I can still use the open sights under it) are going out before light tomorrow, to the watering hole we found.

    Kevin or Joe B.,

    We think they will be at the watering hole during the night when Josh says they move about most. They mostly hunker down during the day, unless it’s hot, then the watering hole is a must to cool off. It’s not hot anymore, so we don’t know..

    Is there a good chance we will surprise them as we approach the watering hole in the dark? That’s what we are planning for. So the approach must be timed for the legal time before dawn, when light is just breaking. If not we will perch on the hill above and wait all day for them into the evening. Here’s hoping were back by noon and asking how to make canned elk…


  15. BB,

    It took me a little while to (re-)read the Whiscombe series (neat rifle, by the way). I have to say that the idea of a harmonic tuner attracts me for the same reason it does everybody else, but that I fear it would become tedious quickly and probably not get used properly after an initial period of excitement, so that forever thereafter I would struggle with the guilt that my accuracy was suffering because I didn’t get it right:). That said, it would seem to be best on a target rifle that shoots the same pellets all the time.

  16. Not all of us can afford an expensive springer. Can those of you with a lot of experience or have had good luck list in order (from most improved to least improved)what things can be done to improve accuracy?

    For me, from what I have done to my Quest 800:

    1. Find the right ammo.

    2. Learn to shoot a springer and find the proper hold.

    3. Use a decent scope with an adjustable Objective.

    4. Clean, polish and properly lube the internals.

    5. Added a better trigger.

  17. Wayne,

    Good hunting, amigo, and best of luck.

    I remember our herd came to the pond in the daylight. They didn’t seem to be heavily hunted and they didn’t spook easily.

    This was late 1990s and it seems like I remember them there in the afternoons but not all that late in the day.

    When I was shooting metallic silhouette I had a subscription to a hunting letter that came with the membership…there was a doctor from around Coos Bay who used a T/C single shot for elk around that time. He wrote a story about shooting one in a valley and having to pack it out in several parcels, up steep terrain, to get it back to the cars. I hope your pond is uphill from your staging area.

    –Joe B.
    President, MEHA (Maui Elk Hunters Association)

  18. Mr. President Joe B.

    It is an honor to know someone who is in charge of such a large membership.

    Thanks, for the info on the timing of their movements.. that is what Josh was thinking, so the approach up the logging skid road, will be the moment of truth.. once there, if we haven’t scored yet, we will set up above the pond and wait all day into the evening.. the skid road is passable still, so if we get one at the pond, we can go get the car and collect it with ease.. well more easy than carrying the parts up hill..

    sounds like their here, by now..


  19. ajvenom,

    I think you have the list in pretty good order. You might add lapping the crown if there’s any question about it. You can also check the breech pivot/lockup for slop, the loading port for smoothness (very minor), and clean barrel w/BB’s method or fire-lap the bore.

  20. 1. Find the right ammo.

    2. Learn to shoot a springer and find the proper hold.

    3. Clean, polish and properly lube the internals. Clean new steel barrel with brass brush. Check loading port for smoothness. Check crown for chips and burrs etc…

    4. Periodically check pivot/lockup and all screws for looseness.

    5. Use a decent scope with an adjustable Objective.

    6. Adjust trigger or add a better one.

    Thanks bg_farmer… I forgot to mention those points. The new barrel clean and keeping things tight has helped me. The loading port and crown seem fine.

    Perhaps a harmonically ajustable muzzle could be added sometime. A muzzle could also effect the air flow and pivot play too I suppose.

  21. ajvenom: good list of what to do. I’ll add proper technique when shooting from a bench. I rest the forend of my springer on a block of some pretty dense foam rubber which frees up my left hand to help support the butt of the gun. Each gun seems to have a spot on the fore end where it likes to be rested. Take a deep breath exhail 1/2 of it, hold the rest, line up the cross hairs and slowing apply pressure to the trigger until the gun fires. Then just keep at it and eventually you’ll know where the pellet is going to hit the target and you’ll be watching the hole appear there. There is also alot of info with a google search of bench rest shooting Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes I’ll think that I cann’t shoot cause all I’m getting is shotgun patterns and not rifle groups so I’ll take a break, reset my brain and try again. Let me know if this was of any help to you. Thanks Mr B.

  22. I’ve got a B19 I’ve had for about 10 years – never really used it much because it’s extremely inconsistent. I’ll get 10 or 20 shots off in fairly tight groups (as tight as my skill allows, anyway), and then I’ll get 4 or 5 wild fliers. Then back to accurate. Then maybe I’ll have 20 or 30 shots in a nice buckshot pattern all over the paper. Last night I was shooting at 10m – about 150 pellets, all fairly tight groups except one set of 10 that was vertically strung about 3/4″. Tonight I picked up the rifle and fired off a couple of inch and a half groups. From 10 meters! No clusters, just wild shots. I used to have problems with severe vertical stringing, although I’ve reduced that somewhat by fabricating a stop pin. And I’ll sometimes, but not always, have the two POI problem listed in this post by BB.

    I’ve tried all of the basic fixes. Disassembled the powerplant and cleaned, honed, and molyd the piston chamber and spring, polished the spring ends. My spring’s got a bit of warp: maybe 1/2″ of deflection over its length. I’m sure it doesn’t help, but I wouldn’t think it would cause this much of a problem. The hone and lube didn’t help accuracy, although the gun shoots much smoother now – much less twang and vibration.

    Shimmed the barrel pivot. Tightened and lock-tited all bolts. Was convinced (hoping?) the problem was scope creep so I drilled a hole in the receiver and fitted a pin for a scope stop. No love, although I’ve noticed there’s a lot less noticeable vertical stringing. So it was definitely an issue, just not the main one.

    The crown looks clean and even, as does the bore. I’ve not tried recrowning it, as I have no metalworking tools and no way to ensure the new crown is square to the barrel.

    I’ve tried cleaning the barrel using JB bore cleaning compound. No visible deposits, and the rifling appears well-defined with no damage as far as I can tell.

    Have tried JSB Exacts, RWS Hobby, Crosman Premier, Kodiaks, Barracuda Match, and one or two others whose names escape me. Also tried the cheapie Wal-mart Crosmans and Beemans. Surprisingly, the Crosmans that used to come in a 500ct rectangular plastic clamshell performed the most consistently. The same pellets, which now come packaged differently, no longer work worth a crap. Anyway, the rifle changes its mind every day. JSB’s will perform dramatically better than everything else one day, then the Hobbies will suddenly perform great and JSB’s will suck.

    Either the rifle doesn’t like the artillery hold, or I simply can’t get it down (more likely the latter). I’ve had the most success (most consistency, anyway) with the forestock resting on a rice-filled sock placed one inch forward of the trigger, the butt touching my shoulder but with almost no pressure on it, and holding the grip by my thumb and trigger finger only (just resting my other fingers on the grip rather than using them to hold).

    I’ve worked a great deal on my technique, and when the rifle’s shooting accurately, it really shows. While I’m certainly not what I would call an accomplished marksman, I’m also convinced that this inconsistent behavior is not due to operator error. Not entirely, anyway. But I have no idea what the problem is or how to fix it. I don’t want to sink any money into fixing something unless I’m fairly sure it’s the problem; after all, I could just order a Quest for $90 and have essentially the same gun.

    I just ordered a Daisy 953 from pyramidair; just waiting on the spare clips to come in from backorder for my order to ship. I figured I usually shoot at 10-20m anyway, so I really don’t need power, and after reading BB’s review and all of the comments praising it, I figured I couldn’t go wrong.

    In the meanwhile, does anybody have any suggestions on the B19?

  23. LOL!!!! I chat with a few airgunners online from the UK, Sweden and Austrailia and they all said about the same thing….get a PCP. As for springers, they tend to like Air Arms, Weihrauch, BSA, Gamo or Cometa.

  24. Chantling,

    Wow! You’ve been to the woodshed and back with that B19. I did a lot of research awhile back on the b19’s. On the surface, a great value for a power house of a gun. Based on my research (decided not to buy one) I have a couple of suggestions with the easiest ones first:
    1-Try pushing a pellet down the barrel with a thin dowel and check for resistance. You should have resistance (restriction/choking) near the last few inches of the barrel but not in the middle. The chinese were/are apparently very inconsistent in quality control during barrel construction.
    2-Have you tried a firmer hold. Sometimes it works.
    3-Have you tried the GRT III trigger for the B19? Some guys have said this makes all the differance.
    4-Have you considered maccari’s tarantula spring for the B19’s? This has been the fix for most guys that couldn’t get good groups with the B19 especially in .22 caliber.
    5-Have you tried a beeman R9? Just kidding.

    Bear in mind these suggestions are worth what you paid for them. Good luck.


  25. If your hunting rabbits or plinking the quest 800 or B-19/chinese copy of the GAMO 220 .22 cal. is ok.

    I use H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 gr I believe. Same as Beeman Kodiak Extra Heavy.
    That helped alot. Sometimes Gamo mag points are ok.

    Hold helps a lot. I used to try duplicate my forward hold by starting out with my thumb and forefinger on the stock but later switched to middle finger and thumb on the two sotck screw to get a consistant hold. Right before fire I open my hand flat and use only as a rest. My trigger hand is just a light pistol hold with the butt of the rifle lighly held against my shoulder.

    Lately, I've been starting to just automatically shoot with both eyes open. Makes your body more relaxed than when trying to keep one eye shut.

    The rest is basically all that is listed in the forums.

    10 Meters with a scope 7mm avg c-t-c groupings is the best I can do. Most of my airguns and pistols I can get 3 to 5mm and better sometimes.

    I know how you feel…One day it's an awsome air rifle and the next you'd sell it for kindling. The only thing that I've been told is get a good spring and maybe custom guides.

    The best way to modify a chinese air rifle for high end performance is to buy a Chinese air rifle and replace everything….LOL!!!

    Well if you can't hit a quarter at 10 meters there may be something wrong? Then agian, I feel springer are the hardest things to shoot.

    I only have one springer and not much except reviews and forums to try and compare it too. My Daisy 22SG is becoming a good rabbit air rifle too. For more power the Benjamin 392 is good for open sights, but not sure with the two scope optional arrangements. I would definately check that one out before I bought one.

    But for power and performance, PCP pretty much rules the day except for perhaps a TX200 or HW97 or 77 which would be pretty nice too.

  26. hi bb love your blog, i would like to ask if you knew how to adjust the 397 sight for windage.it doesnt mention it in the manual, and i dont know how to fix it. thank you.

  27. hi bb, im back with more questions (hope you dontm ind). my 397wont shoot low enough!i turned the little threaded thing all the way clockwise, but it just fell out. i put my finger on the rear sight and fired holding down, but then the windage was all over the place! thank you

  28. Okay, I’ve thought about this and here is the deal. Your rifle won’t be on target until at least 10 yards from the muzzle. Closer than that and the sights cannot compensate, so you must hold under.

    Second, you should be shooting a heavy pellet like a Beeman Kodiak or a Crosman Premier heavy. Light pellets don’t work well in pneumatics – usually. There are exceptions, but in general this is the case.

    Does that help?


  29. heres the thing- im using beeman kodiak heavys , and im sighting in at 10 yds, so i dont think thats the problem. i tried at 20 yds, but it was still high. im shooting from the bench, so it shouldnt be human error. is it the crown mabey?

  30. It could be the crown but that’s a real reach. What size groups do you get at 20 yards? If they are an inch or less, let’s concentrate on the front sight.

    Is this a fairly new gun? You didn’t get it used?

    Are you using a 6 o’clock hold on the target?

    I(f you raise the front sight a little by taping on some paper, how hi does it need to be to get you on target at 10 yards? There is a quick fix for this problem.

    By the way, I have assumed all along that you are using the factory rear sight. Please tell me you are and that we are not talking about a peep sight issue here.


  31. i cant get the 20 yard grps, its raining, and the gun is new i got it from trader sports at the store, im shooting it like any other gun and airgun ive used. im using the factory sight. when i first started sighting in, the elevation was fine but the windage was messed up. then, i fixed the windage, but the elevation is now all wierd. at 10 yds, i get 1 holers w/o really trying.

  32. Do whatever seems necessary to correct the problem. It’s very difficult to diagnose your problem from this distance.

    The rifle sounds accurate, but the sights may have a problem that can’t be corrected. You might think about returning the gun.


  33. I fixed it!What i did was wrap the rearsight down with rubber bands, adjust the sight really high, and start waiting. i changed the sight to completely low now, and pounded the sight down with my pocketknife handle.now, the sight is flush with the barrel, thanks anyway for trying to help!
    BTW, retrieved my blogger password

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