I’m glad I don’t judge beauty contests

by B.B. Pelletier

I get burned out on airguns from time to time. When it happens, I can remember being excited over this or that gun in the past, but nothing I see, touch or shoot at this time evokes the slightest measure of appreciation. You could hand me an HW55 Tyrolean with a full bas-relief stock worthy of the renaissance–and I would yawn.

When that happens, I have to do something else. For years, something else has been shooting firearms, reloading and casting bullets. Anything to break the connection with pellet guns for a time. Unfortunately, a number of circumstances–the weather, a heavy work schedule and my recent illness–have all conspired to keep me from going to the range since before Christmas. I’m ready to pull my hair out, if I had anything to grab onto.

Then, I happened to mention that I rode a BMW R26 while in college in the 1960s. A thoughtful reader sent me a link to a You Tube video of a prima R 26 that the owner starts and runs while walking the viewer around on a tour. Seeing that video was a mini-holiday for me.

The BMW R26 single-cylinder motorcycle is like an HW55 on wheels.

That got me looking at all the vintage Beemer motorcycle videos on You Tube and there are quite a few of them. That got me searching eBay Motors for what one of these treasures might cost–not that I would ever buy one. Five thousand $US seems to be the going price for a refurbished bike from Indonesia. Another $1,500 transport to the U.S. and who knows what to clear customs would get you a restored bike in beautiful condition–if it all worked out, that is.

That got me searching for a vintage motorcycle sales here in the U.S. and, lo and behold, I found one. A great one! Walnecks.com has lists of vintage and antique motorcycles that will astound you. There are many old R12/R26/R27 bikes to choose from. But if you’re an Indian fan, and I’m talking about the original Indian motorcycles now, then there are Chiefs, Scouts and even a couple straight fours. I didn’t find a Scott Flying Squirrel or a Sunbeam, but who knows what’ll be there next week?

What does this have to do with airguns? Nothing–yet. But you know that it’s coming.

And here it is. When I absolutely cannot look at one more synthetic thumbhole stock wrapped around a bucking, buzzing thousand-foot-per-second .177 breakbarrel with a beer-can trigger, I go to the American Vintage Airguns Forum. I call it my quiet place. Here the guns are old and so are the contributors. If they’re young, they sure don’t act it. Everyone respects the vintage stuff made in the days before the velocity races began. It’s like an airgun show on the internet.

A bas-relief Tyrolean stock. This is an Aydt schuetzen rifle, but that isn’t the point. This beauty is what puts me at rest when I’m bummed out.

The nice thing about this place are the friends you make. They’re willing to bend over backwards to help a fellow airgunner. I think they’re as nice as the readers of this blog, if you can believe that! If you have a question, they’ll try to find the answer for you. And some of our most notable readers are also over there, so you won’t feel lonely.

Here’s a tastefully engraved Stevens scheutzen rifle. When I see work like this, I can’t take my eyes away.

This Martini Swiss schuetzen rifle has traditional Swiss engraving and carving. You don’t even have to shoot guns like these to enjoy them.

Anyway, that’s how I’m feeling today. I’m gonna get out to the range next week and bust some caps to get my sanity back–or what passes for it.

And THAT, my friends, is why I’m glad I don’t judge beauty contests.

The Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Well, I wanted to post the velocity results of the Benjamin Trail NP XL1100 today, so the first thing I did was measure the cocking effort for you. No more than 32 lbs., according to my bathroom scale. Wow, I thought. Crosman has found a way around the laws of physics. I’ll take three, please!

Then, just as I returned to my desk an email arrived from Crosman informing me that the cocking effort I had inquired about was supposed to be around 38 lbs. Oh, oh! A few shots through the Chrony confirmed that this test rifle was not up to that spec.

The bottom line is this one has to go back to Crosman. They will expedite shipment of a replacement, and I must retract everything I said about the cocking effort until I test that rifle. I still am wildly impressed by what I see, and now I’ll get to see a second one.

Sometimes it even rains in Camelot. And when it rains, we make mud pies and splash in the puddles until mother calls us to dinner.

So, casting about for alternative fun, my eyes fell on the Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol, which reminded me of their claim that it would give 50 good shots with a 7.9-grain pellet at 450 f.p.s. So, I decided to do the velocity test today. Actually, I’m doing only the first half of the velocity test, because I was reminded by one of our sharp readers that the Silhouette PCP has a power adjustment. Yes, besides all the wonderful things you already know, you can also adjust the velocity–up to 550 f.p.s. with a 7.9 pellet, says Crosman. That needs to be tested, as well. But, today, I’m doing the yeoman’s work of testing the gun as it comes from the factory. Fifty shots at 450 f.p.s. with a 7.9-grain pellet.

Airing up
The pistol arrived with a caretaker charge of about 1,000 psi, and it needs to go to 3,000 for a full fill. This time I used my carbon fiber tank and filled until the needle was centered on the 3,000 mark. The pistol’s internal gauge read 2,900 at that point, so the two disagree by 100 psi. Good thing I’m not anal!

How many shots?
Most of you regular readers know the drill by now. I start shooting and record every velocity that comes. If the Chrony misses one, I put in a line to indicate there was a shot that wasn’t recorded. That’s important, because that unrecorded shot uses just as much air as one that was. After the string is over, we’ll look at it to see what we can learn.

Here we go. 3,000 psi fill, Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet.

8………..444 (Start useful string at 2,800 psi onboard)
72………441(end useful string at 1,600 psi)

*Fastest shot in string

With a shot string laid out like that, we can determine a few things. For starters, we can see that Crosman was conservative in their estimates of the useful number of shots. I put in a start point and a stop point on the string. Using the point I chose, which started when the onboard pressure gauge read 2,800 psi, and running to the stop point, when the onboard gauge read 1,600 psi, there are 65 shots in my string.

Another thing we know is the average velocity in the selected string is 457 f.p.s. and the maximum velocity spread is 28 feet per second. The claim of 450 f.p.s. was right on the money. You could cut this data string many different ways to accomplish other things, such as a greater number of shots, for instance, but it does demonstrate that the Silhouette PCP is everything Crosman has claimed and more.

My final comment about today’s test is that I am, once again, impressed with Crosman’s grasp of a metered valve in a precharged airgun. They’re using a fill pressure spread of 1,200 psi to get 65 shots within 28 f.p.s. of one another. That’s exacting performance on just a trifle of air.

More on how the gun shoots
I must comment that the bolt on this pistol is far smoother than any I have seen. It’s made from hardened steel, and the bolt shaft is a wider diameter; when you pull back on the handle, there’s never any binding or hesitation. The action simply cocks smoothly as a non-airgunner would assume that it should. Many years of experience with similar bolt-action pistols that were not this smooth have distorted my perceptions.

And the promised look at the trigger
This time I removed the sideplate for a look at the trigger. As you can see, it’s a simple, one-lever type. Some smoothing of the sear that engages the hammer would probably pay off, but don’t use a file! Use a hard stone and don’t go too far. I doubt these parts are case-hardened any deeper than about 0.15″–if that. Follow up with moly grease. You’re interested in stoning a smoother surface–not a perfect mirror finish, which would probably ruin these parts by cutting through the hardened shell and allowing the part to wear.

Not much to it. The trigger blade pushes the front of the sear up against the spring tension you set. The rear of the sear pivots down and away from the hammer, releasing it.

The trigger has a spring shim on the back side to remove slop in the pull. All the pins could take the tiniest bit of grease.

Next, I’ll try the Silhouette PCP with an optional peep sight Crosman sent with the gun.

Disassembling and assembling a TX200

by B.B. Pelletier

I’m doing this report for Slinging Lead so he can see what the inside of his TX200 looks like. The work to disassemble and take photos took a total of 30 minutes, so that will be how long a disassembly should take after the first time.

Step 1- remove the action from the stock
First, we’ll remove the action from the stock. If you have a scope mounted, take it off to make this easier. I use a sandbag bench rest to hold the rifle while I’m working on it, but you can rig up something with old rags or towels.

Four screws hold the action in the stock. Remove the two forearm screws first, then flip the rifle on its back and remove the two triggerguard screws. No special order for this. Next, separate the stock from the action.

Remove both forearm stock screws.

The triggerguard is held by two different-sized screws. The back one is the same size as the stock screw, but the front one is larger.

When the last stock screw comes out, the action will separate from the stock.

The action is out of the stock.

Step 2- remove the restraining bolt
In this step, you’ll take all the preload tension off the mainspring. The trigger housing will be pushed backward about three-quarters of an inch. This is the step where a mainspring compressor is needed for most spring rifles, but not for the TX200.

This bolt in front of the trigger housing is what holds the action together. It has a flat on either side to accept a wrench.

You don’t need a 12-inch Crescent wrench like this to start the bolt. It was simply handy.

Once the bolt has been started, you can hand-turn it the rest of the way. Put a little tension on the back of the trigger housing by pressing straight down on the action. In this photo, the back of the trigger housing is pressed against the table.

When the bolt releases, the trigger housing will move backward about 3/4″. It’s under 15-20 lbs. of force. To show this movement, I relaxed tension on the action.

The trigger housing slides straight out the back of the gun.

The mainspring and spring guide with washer comes out next.

Step 3- slide out the piston and you’re done
The next “step” is really just a continuation of what we’ve been doing. The piston is not held in the gun by anything at this point, but I’m showing you how to push it out with a small screwdriver.

I’m showing where to push with a screwdriver blade to slide out the piston, but nothing holds it in. It’ll come out all by itself.

And there’s the piston.

One more thing
You can do a mainspring replacement, a lube tune or a piston seal replacement with just this much disassembly. There’s really no need to go any farther. However, the sliding compression chamber will not come out of the gun at this point. One more thing must be done to take it out.

This is where the underlever is attached to the cocking link. That circular pin near the bottom center of the picture needs to come out if you want to remove the sliding compression chamber. The pin has a circlip on either side. Pop off one of them and push the pin out the other way.

When the link is separated from the underlever, it’s possible to slide the compression chamber to the point at which the cocking link can be disconnected from the sliding chamber. I have not gone that far here and doubt I’ve ever taken the chamber out of this rifle because there’s just no need to.

Please don’t start sending me lists of other airguns you want to disassemble. The TX200 is so simple that I didn’t mind showing it here. Other guns can require four times the work to achieve the same goal. The ironic thing is that the TX is one of the few airguns that ever need to be disassembled in the first place.

Yes, I’m going to tell you to assemble the rifle in reverse order because there simply are no tips needed to put it back together. Naturally, you’ll have to press down on the action to get the bolt hole in the trigger housing to align, but isn’t that obvious? Once you’ve done this job yourself, you’ll agree with me.

Benjamin Trail NP XL1100 – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier,

Two things about today’s report. It will be our first look at a Benjamin Trail-series rifle, and it sets the stage for the test of the new Benjamin Trail NP in .25 caliber. We want to be ready for that, later this year, and this should get us there.

We first saw the Benjamin Trail series rifles at the 2010 SHOT Show. We heard about them before then; and, of course, we’ve regarded the older Crosman Nitro Piston rifles for the past year, so this marked a good transition point for switching the Nitro Piston from the Crosman brand to Benjamin. When you look at the Crosman breakbarrels online, you’ll note that the Nitro Piston Short Strokes are all gone–at least at Pyramyd Air.

Today, we’ll start looking at the Benjamin Trail NP XL1100, which is .22 caliber. My first impression was, “Wow!” That came from the outside of the sealed box. I know that writers never say bad things about the products they review, but again I say, “Wow!”

I’m showing you the box so you can see exactly what I’m talking about.

Here’s what made me say that. First, the box says it includes a Centerpoint 3-9×40 scope, so no thought need be given to scoping. It’s all inside the box. Next, my eye was caught by the claim of 1,100 f.p.s. from a .22-caliber pellet rifle. Now, that velocity has been achieved before in .22 caliber, but not by a springer, I don’t think. And, this time the box also says 30 foot-pounds. There’s no mistaking what they’re claiming. The springer that Pyramyd Air will sell you for a penny under $300 will offer the same power that the old Beeman Crow Magnum did a decade ago (in .25 caliber) for $1,175–without the scope. Folks, if that isn’t progress then I don’t know what is.

Still scanning the outside of the box, I saw a round sticker that tells me they tossed in a $20 sling, as well. I shouldn’t tell you that because you’ll all expect one; but whenever I see a sticker, I know the offer will last for only a limited time. But the deal is that the Trail guns have sling swivels built right into them, and this is a way to get lethargic writers like me to notice them…and maybe even install a sling and take a picture.

Note that I did not say sling swivel studs. Oh, no! That’s so–yesterday! I said swivels, which include a front swivel that we haven’t seen since the FWB 124D went away in the 1990s, I think. Boy does that swivel relieve me of answering a lot of questions because with a .22-caliber pellet rifle this powerful you just know that the primary users are going to be hunters.

The only hangup I have with this beautiful box (Crosman wins packaging awards in industry, you know) is the wording that explains that the gun is powered by a nitrogen piston instead of a spring. I have become so used to the industry standard terminology of gas spring that I would prefer they call it a nitrogen-filled gas spring. I will be explaining how it works for many years to all the newcomers who are not yet familiar with the gas springs in their minivans and SUVs. But, you know, it wasn’t mine to name, and Crosman, as a corporation, seems to know the airgun market as least as well as any dedicated airgunner. Besides, at the age of 62, I’m entitled to be somewhat crotchety. It’s part of my old-guy persona.

The last impression the box gives is that the metal finish is deep and polished. Of course, that can be done in Photoshop; but if the owner discovers something else inside, it may not work out so well. Since the intent is to open the box, I hoped they weren’t exaggerating.

The box is opened
Okay, so the gun inside doesn’t look like the picture on the outside. It looks even better. (Ha, ha. I bet you could have guessed I was going to say that.) But in this case it really does. The metalwork is about as shiny as the picture, but the wood stock is quite a bit more graceful than pictured. It’s tastefully checkered on the forearm and pistol grip, and the Benjamin name is carved into the bottom of the forearm. Crosman told me they never want anyone to have to hunt for a Benjamin in a rifle rack and I like that attitude. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Oh, and that exciting new Weaver rail is there, awaiting the time when I mount the scope. What a wonderful idea.

So, I picked it up. Oh, oh. BIG GUN! Oh, my gosh. They are trying to get 30 foot pounds out of a .22-caliber springer. It’s sore arms ahead!

No, it’s not!

I will not reveal the cocking effort in today’s report (because I haven’t tested it yet), but my left arm tells me that if you can cock a Beeman R1, you’ll be able to cock this gun. Oh, and guess what, kids? The safety is manual! Yes, they’re trusting the owner with the main operational safety responsibility. Airports can’t even trust the public to flush a toilet, but Crosman trusts us to shoot safely.

In defense of the airports, I think they made the right decision, too. I’m just glad that none of those disgusting people ever fly on any of my flights!

You know that free sling? They could have just thrown in a cheapie $6 Uncle Mikes web sling and called it a $20 value, but they didn’t. They included a PADDED carry sling with the Benjamin name embroidered on the outside. When I see fine touches like that, I wonder how I can buy some Crosman stock. This is real “Santa’s elves” thinking, in my book.

This is no afterthought. They gave this a lot of attention. It makes you wonder, if they paid this much attention to a small detail like this, how nice is the rifle?

It’s too early to talk about the sound signature, except to say that it’s REALLY quiet! With my steel bullet trap being just five feet away, I can’t hear anything other than the impact of the pellet. I need to get this gun outside. And, no, I’m not stupid enough to shoot this rifle point blank into my freshly-filled silent pellet trap. Maybe after 10K shots are in there I will, but right now I use the serious trap for for airguns this powerful at close range.

The trigger looks like the regular NPSS trigger I played with last year, so I’ll be tweaking it and reporting on it then.

Bottom line (for whoever asked me to hurry this report along) is that I like very much what I see thus far. If this rifle is accurate and if it comes even close to 30 foot-pounds (which I will now define as anything above 26 foot-pounds with the right pellets), then they aren’t going to be able to keep these in stock. When I saw this at the SHOT Show, I envisioned a 24-26 foot-pound gun. That would have been wonderful. Can it be that they’ve exceeded my expectations?

Refillable 12-gram CO2 cartridges

by B.B. Pelletier

Sorry about the blog last week. I was ill and out of my head part of the time, so I forgot about the huge three-part report on air transfer ports back in 2008 and did another one just like them only smaller on Friday. We also got some questions that I said I would blog, and I think today’s report is for one of them, though I cannot find the original question. So, I might miss the crux of the question, but I hope to show you something many of you have never seen or even heard of.

I also think I told Matt that I would shoot firearms at a shovel, to see how effective it is as a bullet shield. Before I ruin a garden tool, how about somebody setting me straight on the real importance of this? Matt?

Today, the question is about refillable CO2 cartridges. And several readers have already responded with the correct answer. That is what bulk-filling is all about. It does work very well, we know that it works well and nobody disputes that fact. Back in my Airgun Letter days, I calculated the difference in cost between a 12-gram powerlet and a bulk charge that gave the same performance. The price of a fill dropped from around 50 cents per cartridge to less than a nickel for an equivalent fill that gave the same number of shots and power. The bulk pistol I used was a .177 Crosman 111 that got 50 shots per fill at over 600 f.p.s.

So, that part of the question is answered, but I don’t think that was all the reader asked. Almost everybody who shoots CO2-powered guns ends up with a mound of metal containers that look like they should have some value, but don’t. For the past 60 years, airgunners have made them into targets, wind chimes, and other items that extract a small amount of secondary use. But the cold hard fact is that you can’t find enough uses to eliminate them all. Maybe if your castle was under siege you could load them into the cannons to repel the invaders. Lacking some wholesale use like that, you’re going to have empty cartridges to throw away.

If you don’t like it, try to convert your gun to bulk-fill operation. That’s the only way I know to get around the problem, and we all know that doesn’t always work. When the space inside the gun for the cartridge is very conformal and restrictive, there will often be no practical way to convert the gun to bulk-filling.

Therein lies my short and humorous tale for today. Back in the late 1990s, when The Airgun Letter was published, a British firm came out with a solution for this problem. Don’t convert your CO2 gun to bulk-fill. Convert it to a precharged pneumatic!

Well, let me tell you, this was all the rage when it first came out. What you got for your money was a device that let you fill a cartridge the size and shape of a 12-gram powerlet with 3,000 psi air. The cartridge was then removed from the fill station. It held the air because it had an inlet valve that was shut by the internal air pressure.

The cartridge would then be placed into a CO2 gun, where the piercing pin was supposed to force the internal valve open. That allowed the air to exhaust into the gun.


This is the system being explained today. The fill station is comprised of the two parts on the left, and the three cartridges that get filled resemble CO2 cartridges.

For comparison, here’s one of the refillable cartridges and a standard 12-gram expendable CO2 cartridge.

Here are the things that disturbed me about this design. The gun was set up to run on CO2 at about 900 psi. All the seals were optimized for the large CO2 molecule and are nowå being asked to work with far smaller atoms of air at triple the operating pressure! I doubted that the durometer ratings of the seals, plus the tolerances of the o-ring seats and valve faces were right for such a job.

No worry, I was told by the manufacturer. The exit hole in the cartridge was very small, so that 3,000 psi air didn’t come out as fast as it normally would have.

Then there is the length of the CO2 piercing pins in each gun that had to be long enough to open the valve inside the cartridge. Are you aware of the gross differences there are in the length of these pins? Many of you own guns whose pins are not long enough to pierce a standard CO2 cartridge, and yet this thing depends on everything being the right length all the time.

Does that sound like exacting science to you? It didn’t to me, but my readers pleaded with me until I finally popped to the tune of $150 for a system and two extra cartridges, bringing the total to three. Okay, I was ready to test.

Except for one thing. The freakin’ system was only held shut by one or two coarse threads of the brass fill container when it was time to fill each cartridge. The variation was due to a variable length of each refillable cartridge.

Here is the refillable cartridge in the refill station.

This is how far the top screws down. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to put 3,000 psi into that cartridge with just a couple brass threads holding things together.

Here’s what’s wrong with all of this. You don’t use brass in 3,000 psi equipment when it’s expected to contain the full pressure. You don’t thread with coarse threads when you want a joint to hold under extreme pressure. And you sure as hell do not trust your life to the strength of just one or two threads for closure!

I may not be a rocket scientist, but I can usually spot a potential bottle rocket!

I never tested this system, but I made a report in The Airgun Letter that was very similar to this one, in which I showed the equipment and discussed my concerns. Apparently, the British firm that made the equipment had never been confronted by a negative review before, because within a few weeks we received what amounted to a “Cease and Desist” letter from the company’s lawyer.

I cannot tell you how much that threat pleased me. I published it in The Airgun Letter and responded that we were a U.S. publication and even though the company no doubt had deep pockets and used lawyers as business tools, I had said nothing in my report that couldn’t be proved in a court of law. In fact, I think the trial would have been quite a circus.

Today’s moral is this–if something sounds too good to be true, if it seems to defy physics, then you’re probably better off not trying it yourself. I remember all those “magic” carburetor modifications of the 1950s and ’60s that were supposed to boost power and gas milage at the same time! We were paying 31 cents for a gallon of gas and were still too hard-headed to recognize that a huge V8 motor tasked to push a lead sled riding on bias-ply tires was always going to use a lot of gasoline.

Buy your CO2 cartridges in large quantities. And please, don’t wonder if this same system could somehow be adapted to operate on CO2.

Changeable air transfer ports

by B.B. Pelletier

This subject was raised by Frank B., I believe, from our conversations regarding deep-seating pellets in spring guns. Someone asked if the transfer port of the Hy Score 801 was particularly short, which he felt explained why seating pellets deeply would show a velocity increase.

I have to tell you that it isn’t that simple. The air transfer port conducts the high-pressure air from the compression chamber to the back of the pellet sitting in the breech. While it has a simple job to do, the transfer port is another factor in the overall performance of the gun. In that capacity, the tune of the gun relates directly to the length and shape of the transfer port. Yes, I said the shape, too.

If you have a .22 caliber Beeman R1 humming along at 22 foot-pounds and you alter the size and shape of the transfer port, don’t count on the gun delivering the same power afterward. In my experience, and from what limited testing I did with the set of ports I’m about to show you, the power usually drops when the port is altered.

Changing port dimensions and shapes was all the rage back in the mid-1990s. Jim Maccari did a brisk business altering ports for customers. And he came up with some observations of his own while doing it. If you want the rifle to continue to function over a broad range of power, based on changing the state of tune (without altering the transfer port), he found it was best to leave the port as the factory designed it. Let me give you an example to illustrate the wisdom of that.

The Beeman R1 used to come in all four calibers (.177, .20, .22 and .25). But when Weihrauch produced the R1, they made the transfer port the same size for all of them. It would have been a costly management nightmare to make a spring rifle in different port sizes according to the caliber. So, all R1s came (and still come, I believe) with a transfer port that’s very close to 0.125″ in diameter. The actual size is metric, but that’s what it measures on an inch scale.

Now, say you’re the owner of a .177 R1 that you want to rebarrel to .22. All that’s needed is a new barrel and cocking link. Everything else on the rifle is the same between the two calibers. But if you altered the port for enhanced performance in .22 caliber, you might find it next to impossible to get decent performance out of it in .177. And, when you altered the port for optimum performance in .22, that’s just for one or two pellets. You generally lose performance with other pellets when you make changes.

Because the transfer port is such a permanent part of the spring tube, any changes that are made can be permanent. Yes, I know of several ways to bush the spring tube so you can start all over, but is it worth the effort? Jim Maccari apparently didn’t think so, because he donated a ruined spring tube to me for an experiment. Dennis Quackenbush made a set of transfer ports that slid into the hole and were held in place with a setscrew.

The transfer ports were inserts held by a setscrew.

Dennis Quackenbush made these transfer ports in graduated sizes. He gave me several blanks for further experimentation.

Another thing to think about is the shape of the transfer port. Many people suggested an air venturi. That would be a smaller hole with a bevel on either side. A properly designed venturi should speed up the flow of compressed air because it’s made to pass through a tunnel that changes shape from large to small. But I never recorded any advantage from a venturi-shaped transfer port, perhaps because the machining was too rough.

A venturi shape was tried but gave no conclusive results.

Before you start your drill press, please know that I was never able to get this setup to shoot as well as an unaltered R1, but it was good enough for a few experiments. In a nutshell, here’s what I learned:

1. Transfer port sizes from 0.120″ to 0.145″ give the same results for a .22 caliber R1 tuned for maximum power…in this gun, which was about 19 foot-pounds. When the size drops below 0.120″, the velocity slows. When it gets above 0.145″, it slows and the gun acts like it’s being dry-fired. Lotsa dieseling, etc.

2. Exotic shapes such as venturis don’t seem to affect the performance within the optimum size range and the targeted caliber.

There’s more to the study of transfer ports, like ports that are centered in the compression chamber, versus ports that are offset to one side. But this should get you thinking.

The Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I start today’s report, I want to thank all the volunteers who are helping me answer questions on this blog. Most of you are not aware of the large number of people who connect with this blog and land on reports that are several years old. They did a search on an obscure airgun question and we came up as a hit, so they clicked through.

The volunteers get all the messages that I get, so they see when someone has come to a 2005 report to post a question. They usually answer the question and also guide the person to the current blog. As a result, we have built a rather large community of airgunners. While there are 100 to 150 active posters at any given time, I would estimate the number of people reading the blog to be in excess of 20,000 a day. We have a group of four from Moscow who are regulars! We may even be larger than that. I think I’m being very conservative in my estimate.

But this blog is not about numbers. It is about connecting shooters to the information they need to enjoy their sport and hobby. And the volunteers who read all the messages are helping me reach these people every day. Thank you.

As a direct result of creating this body of enthusiasts, the hobby of airgunning seems to be growing at an accelerated rate. At this year’s SHOT Show, I could see that interest in airguns was at an all-time high. Even the gun writers who have for years eschewed airguns as beneath them are now scrambling to catch up. Pyramyd Air is besieged with numerous requests to test airguns from writers and publications that are virtually unknown to most of us. If this continues, the sport and hobby of airgunning will soon become a major force in the shooting sports.

I’m glad that I lived long enough to see this day arrive. For too many decades, airguns in the United States have hidden under a cabbage leaf, embarrassed to have the word “guns” in their name. The time for apologizies appears to be coming to an end. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming years.

Okay, editorial over. Let’s get on to the new Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol!

Sorry about the perspective, but Blogger allows a photo that’s no more than 5 inches wide, and I wanted to show the pistol larger than that.

My first experience with the Silhouette was when field target champion Ray Apelles brought a prototype to the American Airgunner studio in the Catskills on the day when he and his father came to film an episode on field target. Ray let me try the gun and, sitting in the Creedmore position for handguns, I was able to clip weed stems at 23 yards.

For most of the summer, I thought the Silhouette was the only precharged pistol Crosman was bringing out, and for a time it looked to me like they might release it in the fall of 2009. They didn’t, but it’s coming out now and I have a sample to test for you.

If nothing else, this pistol may help us all with the difficult spelling of the word silhouette! Now, if everyone could just learn how to spell Crosman.

If you look real hard, you can see the family resemblance to the 2240 pistol, which shares a frame with many of Crosman’s current single-shot pistols. That frame is descended from the CO2 pistols Crosman made 60 years ago, though there have been a few changes over the years. In fact, there had to be some changes from the current 2240 frame to accept the pneumatic reservoir tube, and this is where Crosman wins every time. They didn’t just make one change and be done with it. No, they sweetened the trigger at the same time.

Oh, don’t worry! They left enough creep and weight in the mechanism to support about a hundred hobby airgun boutiques offering trigger parts and other modifications to “fix the problem.” There’s also plenty of grist for all the forums to have endless discussions about it. I’m just wondering what slang term will have to be invented so people don’t actually have to write Silhouette in their rants. The Marauder became the M-rod, the Discovery became the Disco and the Katana the Katrina. What will the Silhouette be called? Perhaps, the Shill?

Looking at the gun, and by the way, that is my test gun up top, not a Crosman photo. You can tell the difference because my gun has all the words engraved on the action while the website shows a plain receiver–at least that’s how it looked when I wrote this report the night before publication. The first thing you’ll notice is the bolt handle is on the left. For decades owners have been installing aftermarket steel breeches with the bolt on the left for right-handed shooters who don’t want to let go of the grip while they’re loading. This is a point that Ray Apelles argued for. And, because this is a Crosman gun, you can switch that handle over to the right side.

Switching sides requires separating the barreled receiver from the reservoir. They say in the manual that you will need to send your gun to a service center, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

Cocking is so smooth that you’ll want to keep on doing it just for the sensation. At least, you will if you’ve owned a lot of other Crosman single-shot pistols that had stubby bolt handles and stiff bolts that bound during cocking. I must note that the pellet trough is made from Delrin (that’s engineering plastic) with no sign of a screw head anywhere near the trough. Crosman fans will know what I’m talking about. This is the way the gun needs to be built, because it eliminates all pellet flipping during loading.

And the trigger that the forums are soon going to be in convulsions over has a wider blade than the old-style flat blade, yet it will still accept a trigger shoe. It’s a single-stage trigger with a fair amount of creep, but it has an adjustable trigger stop. Give me a jar of moly grease and stand back! I will have it slicked-up in no time. The trigger-pull weight is also adjustable over a narrow range. You access the knurled adjustment wheel under the grip panels.

And this is the thousand-word picture. You can see the new, wider trigger blade, the adjustable trigger stop and the trigger-pull adjustment inside the grip.

The 10-inch barrel is a Lothar Walther, which adds value to the package. Not that Crosman can’t rifle a barrel, because they certainly can. But sometimes it helps to have the Lothar Walther name associated with a gun just so everybody knows it’s accurate.

The pressure gauge hangs down under the reservoir, sort of exposed. It looks like an afterthought, but that’s because the pistol has no forearm to hide it. My sample arrived with a 1,000 psi caretaker charge in the reservoir to keep the valves closed against airborne dirt. That answers the question of whether or not the pistol holds air. I have seen Crosman’s “clean room” setup for manufacturing PCPs, and they air up every one on the line so they can be tested. You would expect a boutique maker to do that, but what a surprise that a high-rate manufacturer does, as well.

This is a large pistol. It weighs 2.5 lbs. and is a quarter-inch shy of 15 inches in length. The aluminum receiver looks large and commanding. The pistol is built for the purpose of competing in airgun silhouette matches, but most will undoubtedly be purchased by plinkers. And they will probably want to mount a scope, though Crosman sent me a peep sight to also try. The pistol comes without a rear sight, so you can go either way, but I suspect most shooters will either scope it or install a dot sight.

It’s a single-shot, as most competition guns tend to be, and the power is suited for silhouette competition. It operates on 3,000 psi air, so no chance of running on CO2 with this one. Buy a 2300T or 2300S if CO2 is what you want.

When I test it for velocity, I’ll also weigh the trigger for you. So far, it’s an impressive PCP pistol, though priced higher than I expected.