by B.B. Pelletier

BAM B26 is a well-done copy of the Beeman R9.

Before I begin, I received a packet of vintage Daisy BBs yesterday. I remember that one of you said he was sending them, but I don’t remember who I am to thank. These will find their way into a vintage Daisy gun box somewhere.

This is actually my second look at BAM’s B26-2. The first was back in 2006, when I tested a .22 caliber B26 with a standard stock. Today, I’ll start looking at the same gun in .177, and this one sits in a thumbhole stock.

The B26 is BAM’s second attempt at copying the Weihrauch HW95, which we all know as the Beeman R9. The B20 was their first try, and even that rifle was pretty impressive, but in the B26 has a copy of the Rekord trigger that was refined through more attention to finishing the parts.

For those who are not familiar with the R9, it’s a classic breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. It was developed from the BSF 55 action that Weihrauch acquired when they purchased the BSF company back at the end of the 1980s. The rifle went through several design iterations, first as the Marksman 55, then the Beeman R10 and finally becoming the R9. The R9 is a lightweight spring rifle with all the power of the Beeman R1 but at a lower weight and bulk. It has the famous Rekord trigger that gets airgunners so excited, so it was a natural to be copied.

I talked with the BAM representatives at the SHOT Show when the B26 first came out, which is how I know that the trigger was the major upgrade. They were really impressed with all the finishing Weihrauch put into the trigger, and they knew they would have to do more work if they really wanted to compete. That work was going to take their rifle from a retail price below $100 to significantly more, and in those days the Chinese competed on price, alone. So, BAM took a real leap of faith that the airgunning world was ready to pay more for a higher quality level. Of course, the fact that many were already buying the R9 helped them make the decision.

The rifle
The B26 thumbhole comes without sights, so plan on mounting a scope. The thumbhole stock is made from medium-brown wood that resembles beech. In typical Chinese fashion, the stock on my test rifle has several ares where wood putty was used to fill in gouges. There’s no checkering, and the wood is finished very smooth. The raised cheekpiece is sharply defined around the border and looks very European. The butt drops very little, so medium or high mounts are what you want to use, because your cheek will already be quite high. Also, you might want to install an adjustable butt to lengthen the distance between your shoulder and cheek. Otherwise, the rifle will be difficult to fit to most people’s hold.

Dark oval is wood putty. This rifle has three areas like this one. Most Chinese wood stocks will have this, though sometimes it isn’t stained dark and can be harder to locate.

I have never been fond of thumbhole stocks because they don’t fit my style of hold, but this one isn’t that objectionable. It does make the rifle unfit for southpaws, however.

The metal is finished a little shinier than matte and is even all around. Markings are lasered on the metal, where they appear silver.

Rifle’s nomenclature is lasered on the left side of the baseblock.

The trigger
BAM didn’t copy the Rekord exactly and in so doing, they missed the boat. What you get is a delightful single-stage trigger with adjustable pull weight. If you can work with a single-stage trigger, this is a very good one. Light and relatively creep-free, but it isn’t a Rekord.

A crisp single-stage trigger that’s unlike a Rekord in operation. It still beats many popular sporting triggers found on air rifles today.

The rifle is 44.5″ long and weighs a light 7.5 lbs. That’s 1.5 lbs. less than an R1 of the equivalent power. The barrel is 16″ long, but the muzzlebrake adds another 1.5″ to that. The pull length is 14-1/8″.

Cocking and trigger-pull
The rifle cocks at a surprisingly low 24 lbs. of force, which is amazing considering the advertised power. The piston seal is honking like a goose–a sure sign that things are too dry inside. That leads me to wonder if I shouldn’t try to tune the rifle to see if I might knock off another pound of effort. The trigger lets go at 3 lbs., 2 oz. of pull. Because it’s a single-stage, I don’t want to adjust it too light or it could slip off by itself. The release is crisp and repeatable. And the safety, which is a weakness with Rekord triggers, is very crisp and positive. One negative observation is that the baseblock is under far too little tension. Once cocked, the barrel flops around freely instead of remaining in any position. A tune would fix that, as well.

A very nice air rifle
The B26 needs to make no apologies. It seems to hold its own with the R9. Apart from not having the Rekord trigger and the wood putty, the B26 is quite the air rifle–especially for less than $200. That’s $300 less than the rifle it copies.