AirForce Edge – Part 6
by B.B. Pelletier
Okay, important day here. This is the day we find out if the Edge I’m testing really is accurate. If you recall, in Part 4 I shocked many of you by showing you all the groups I shot, both good and bad. Apparently, the bad groups overwhelmed the senses of many readers who promptly told me so in no uncertain terms.
And then some other results from other shooters came in that contradicted my findings. Ron, our reader who just bought an Edge, reported much better groups than I and told of someone breaking many aspirins successively at a shooting range. And Mike Reames posted a great bunch of groups over on the Yellow Forum.
I had to rethink my test, and so I did. I remembered the trick of cleaning the bore with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound, so I cleaned my barrel. In fact, I cleaned all three barrels, the 12-inch barrel that came with the rifle, an 18-inch Talon barrel and a 24-inch Condor barrel that I borrowed from AirForce for those velocity tests. All of these barrels are in .177 caliber, because .177 is the only caliber that’s permitted in 10-meter matches. Besides, at the low velocity of a 10-meter rifle, .22 caliber isn’t really practical.
I knew that if I did the velocity tests on all three barrels that you guys would also want me to test accuracy as well, so I did it. And I finally buckled to the pressure to stick the gun in a vise, though personally I don’t see the attraction. I chucked the rifle in a vice for these tests, so no part of B.B. Pelletier will influence the outcome.
I actually learned a lot about the Edge in this test, because I wasn’t concentrating on the shooting so much. So, maybe the vice was not a bad idea, after all. I just don’t want to hear it suggested for future testing, say with a breakbarrel or an underlever. But for this test, it worked well.
What did I learn? Well, as I shot the different length barrels there was the occasional cleaning done to keep things moving along. As the barrels were cleaned and fired, I began to remember the break-in regime for a world-class .22 target rifle. You shoot it for X number of shots, then clean the barrel. Shoot and clean. Shoot and clean. This “seasons” the barrel, making it smoother and smoother. In fact, when I did an article for Shotgun News on the accuracy of a Butler Creek barrel in a Ruger 10-22, their instructions specified the exact same thing. Shoot and clean. Don’t even expect accuracy until after the first 200-300 shots.
Since the gun was in a vice, it was easy to shoot and clean. That’s how it went. And you know what? There was a definite improvement in the accuracy of each barrel as things progressed. Even though I’d cleaned all three barrels before the start of the test, and despite the fact that the 12-inch barrel had at least 300 of my own shots on it when I began, accuracy continued to improve as I shot and cleaned. That’s not to say that you can’t just take the rifle out of the box and shoot it, but in the first thousand shots you would be advised to clean the barrel after every 50 shots or so.
All I mean by cleaning is to remove the reservoir (10 seconds) and run a patch moistened with Hoppes Number Nine through the bore. Yes, I said Hoppes Number Nine. That’s what cleaned all three of the barrels in this test and there were no bad effects. After the one wet patch, run dry patches through, breech to muzzle only, until they come out clean. It takes all of two minutes to do. If you owned a new major .22 rimfire target rifle this is the same thing you would be advised to do.
I had a large variety of target pellets on hand for this test, and as it turned out, that was a good thing. Because I learned a ton about the rifle, and more specifically, about each barrel. Each barrel performs so vastly different with different pellets that no assumptions can be made. Forget the fact that they’re all made by Lothar Walther, because each one has it’s own favorites and it’s own group of pellets that it dislikes.
Here’s a list of all the pellets I tested in these three barrels:
H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
H&N Match Pistol pellets (yes, they are different that Finale Match — check them out)
H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets
Meisterkugeln Pistol (7 grains)
RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle (8.2 grains) pellets
RWS R10 Rifle Match pellets
RWS Basic pellets
Vogel match pellets with a 4.50mm head – 8.2 grains
Vogel match pellets with a 4.495mm head 8.2 grains
Vogel match pellets with a 4.90mm head – 8.2 grains
Chinese target pellets with a blue label – 7.6 grains
Although that’s a long list, and I did check every barrel with almost every pellet, the list is nowhere near inclusive. There are still plenty of target pellets to check, as well as plenty of other wadcutters. You must use wadcutter pellets in 10-meter matches because of scoring. The scoring equipment needs the clean holes that wadcutters cut in the target paper, which, by the way, is also mandatory. You must use approved targets. I used Edelmann targets from Germany, which are the equal of any target on the planet. They are made of very heavy paper that cuts absolutely clean holes.
I didn’t bother shooting at bulls, because the gun was in the vice. So the target paper was turned around so its back faced the firing point 10 meters away, and, as I advanced, the target was simply slid over for the next group. That speeded up the test considerably, though it still took 3.5 hours to complete with all the pellets and barrels in the mix.
The 24-inch barrel was in the rifle at the start, so I tested it first. I shot group after group, as you can see from the long list of pellets. The H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets were best, in general. They consistently gave superior results.
After the H&Ns came the Vogels with the 4.49mm head as a close second. Remember, these are heavier rifle-type pellets and that the Edge gets its highest velocity with the 24-inch barrel.
I didn’t shoot just one group with each pellet. If a pellet showed promise, I shot several groups–sometimes as many as six. With all that shooting, I discovered that the barrel likes to be cleaned. Even though I’d cleaned it with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound before the test began, I still used the additional cleaning method described above, which is how I began noticing the improvement. Naturally I made cleaning a part of testing the other two barrels, to keep things consistent.
You would think after testing the 24-inch barrel for so long that the 18-inch barrel test would be a walk in the park, but it wasn’t. This barrel exhibited completely different likes, and I had to start from the beginning again.
The 18-inch barrel proved to be more selective than the 24-inch barrel. It liked the Vogel target pellet with the 4.5mm head best of all and all other pellets were about the same. But when I say the Vogel was the best, I really mean it, because it gave superb groups, including one that was the best single group of the entire session! A group that is actually sized like all those Daisy 853 groups everybody claims they shoot offhand. This one would look at home as the test target of an FWB P700 target rifle!
The 18-inch barrel was cleaned during the shooting session, just as described above. Immediately after the cleaning is when it settled down with the Vogel 4.50mm pellets and started to shoot well.
But this test was really never about the 18-inch barrel or the 24-inch barrel. It was always about the 12-inch barrel that comes with the rifle. So let’s go there now.
Bottom line first–the 12-inch barrel was the most accommodating of the three lengths tested. It likes more different pellets than either the 18-inch or 24-inch. Perhaps that’s because I shot more groups with it than with the other two. It was cleaned beforehand with JB Paste, the same as the others, and it was also cleaned during this test in the same way I describe above.
In the beginning, it was harder to find a great pellet, but after the cleaning things seemed to change. But they didn’t change as fast as with the other two barrels. In a curious twist of events, there are two best groups that seem to be the exact same size, yet they were created with two different pellets. I actually had to measure about eight separate groups with calipers while wearing a magnifying hood to find these two, because the ones that are larger are only so by a few thousandths of an inch! An embarrassment of riches!
I shot many, MANY more great groups with the 12-inch barrel, which proved that it was the most flexible of the three barrels I tested in this Edge. The H&N Finale Match Rifle and the Vogel 4.50mm and 4.495mm pellets were the three best–hands down.
I hope this has demonstrated the accuracy potential of the Edge rifle for all of you. In fairness to Crosman, I believe that if I were to run this same exhaustive test on their Crosman Challenger PCP I would get similar results. I’m not going to do that, but I strongly recommend that those who own that rifle consider cleaning their barrels as I have done here. I would not recommend using Hoppes Number Nine solvent on the Crosman rifle, though, because of its design. I would use Birchwood Casey’s Gun Scrubber for synthetic guns instead. Even Daisy Avanti 853 owners could benefit from this cleaning, because your barrels are Lothar Walther, as well.