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Education / Training The Bronco from Air Venturi – Part 4

The Bronco from Air Venturi – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


Air Venturi Bronco.

Today I tested the Air Venturi Bronco with a scope. I learned a lot today, but not all of it was good. I tried to force a shooting session outdoors when the wind was swirling from all directions at 20 mph and it was hard getting things to work right. Still, I have been trying to shoot the Bronco with a scope for so long that I went ahead and did it anyway. In the end I see I’m going to have to run this test again.

For starters, I was shooting at 21 yards and all the wadcutters were off their game from the wind. They would catch a blast and sail off like frisbees in whatever direction the wind happened to be blowing. Since it was swirling where I was, that could be any direction. So I didn’t test RWS Hobbys both seated flush and deep like I promised.

The scope I selected was a Leapers 4X32 long eye relief with a 100-yard parallax. That meant that either the crosshairs or the target could be in focus, but not both at the same time. Even at 21 yards, the bull was clear enough to see when it wasn’t in focus. So I compromised the focus. Next time I will mount a scope that adjusts for parallax and I’ll make sure everything is in focus. I didn’t link to the scope because PA doesn’t appear to stock it and I would not recommend it anyway.

I did remove both the front and rear sights for this, and when the rear sight comes off the baseplate the sight rests on also comes off. That leaves the rifle looking sleeker for the scope.

So, this sounds like I’m building up to tell you that the Bronco doesn’t group, but I’m not going to say that at all. Even under these adverse conditions, this little Bronco is a wonderful shooter. But it only wanted to shoot domed pellets on this blustery day, and there’s a big tip for you guys.

Last year on American Airgunner we demonstrated the performance of wadcutters versus domed pellets at 10 yards and again at 40 yards. At 10 yards the domes, which were Beeman Kodiaks, shot close to the same as the wadcutters with the Kodiaks being slightly more accurate. I forget which brand of wadcutter we used, but they were also good pellets.

However, when we backed up to 40 yards, the Kodiaks were still shooting five-shot groups of less than one half inch, while the wadcutters opened up to over an inch and a half. One was as large as three inches! As the frosting on the cake a fly landed on the target with the camera running and Paul Capello hit him dead center with a Kodiak. And, for the benefit of both Wayne and Kevin, Paul was shooting an Air Arms S410 for this test.

The point is this–wadcutters are great out to 10 meters and they will work on calm days out to 25 yards, but they are the absolute worst long-range pellets you can use. And, if there is a wind of any kind, forget them.

But Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets performed admirably. They gave good five-shot groups and they gave good 10-shot groups, as well. I suspect they didn’t group as well as they might if there were no wind, but I wanted so much to do this test that I bulldozed through all the problems.


First group of five Premier 7.9-grain pellets at 20 yards was reasonable, given the wind.


Ten Premier 7.9-grain pellets at 20 yards grouped well. I adjusted the scope a couple clicks down and to the right for this group.

For the record I also tried JSB Exact domes in the 8.4-grain weight. Through the scope it didn’t look like they did very well, but when I examined the target I saw a different story. They looked as though they might out-group the Premiers.


Five JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets at 20 yards grouped surprisingly well. I lost the group in the scope and couldn’t see it until I went up to the target. Had the day been nicer I would have shot more of these. Note the POI shift when a different pellet was used. There was no scope adjustment before shooting this one.

The day was well below freezing and I wasn’t motivated to remain out very long–especially with the wind fighting me at every turn. So I will call this an abbreviated test that I will repeat in the not-too-distant future.

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.

59 thoughts on “The Bronco from Air Venturi – Part 4”

  1. BB, what kind of correlation do you think exists between muzzle energy (or velocity with a given pellet), and the maximum range at which a gun can be considered accurate? My first inclination would be to believe that it wouldn't matter (assuming no wind), but my limited experience seems to indicate otherwise.

    Assuming, of course, that the rifles in question are all capable of good short-range accuracy.

  2. Vince,

    Back when I edited "Airgun Illustrated" magazine, I also thought lower-powered airguns were range-limited. Then Robert Hamilton and Tom Jue started writing their Urban Hunter articles for me. They were dropping pigeons at 57 yards with R7s and HW 55s. That caused me to wonder, like you, if there really is a maximum range for accuracy among lower-powered airguns.

    I really don't know.

    By the way, an interesting corollary to your question is the maximum range of black powder cartridges. There used to be a pool of "experts" that said the .50-70 could not have made the famous (near-mile, 1,538-yard) shot attributed to Billy Dixon at the Adobe Walls gunfight, because it was impossible for a .50-70 bullet to travel that far.

    Then they tested their theories with Army millimeter-wave radar tracking the bullets and found that the .50-70 bullet really travels almost two miles before falling to earth. The .45-70 goes a LOT farther.

    The test really opened many people's eyes about the old black powder cartridges and their capabilities.

    I guess we will never know the answer to your question, but we shouldn't write off anything before we test it.


  3. If you did the testing yesterday, you did pick a tough day to shoot. If anyone needs a shooting tunnel, I think it would be you.
    I have been surprised a few times when I have shot in pretty strong wind at how well the domes bucked the wind. It is important to shoot with the wind at the same level and from the same direction. Most of the time if it is really windy, I don't bother shooting though.
    David Enoch

  4. Those are pretty darn good groups for gusting wind conditions and a fuzzy sight picture.

    I've learned to shoot in calm and constant wind condition but gusting wind is impossible for me.


  5. Hollowpoints,

    I have found that hollowpoints are generally not accurate with or without wind. Crosman Premiers seem to be the exception to that.

    I think it stems from the imperfect weight distribution of the hollowpoint around the axis of the pellet.


  6. B.B.
    I have only one non-AO scope that is set for 100 yds. Pretty much worthless for anything smaller than deer at close range. The rest are 50 yd focus..OK for rimfire and ML.

    How would it be to use a lens cap with a small hole cut in the center? sort of like a peep sight to use with the crosshairs…to help eliminate eye position and parallax problems at close range??


  7. straight wind can be somewhat consistant. Gusting wind sucks.

    I count when the wind gusts.


    123456 shoot

    I shoot after the longer gusts. Not always a winner, but something play around with.

  8. also, If you can feel a pause on the shorter winds….then have a lot calmer wind to shoot after, but with my luck is that's when the wind hits the hardest.

    Shooting afer the longer count can be more consistant, because the wind will most of the time die off than pick up then when shooting at the lower count.

    Then again, I could just be full of wind.

  9. B.B.

    Sounds like one of those cases when I know I should put the pistol down to restart the shooting process but can't make myself quit. The Bronco did well in adversity (like your tantalizing BAM tests long ago), but it deserves better.

    AlanL, shoot however you want but I would stick with benchresting until you get a feel for your gun. As one person put it: if you're not shooting from a bench or a supported prone, you're practicing your shooting skills not testing the rifle. Also, I wouldn't be too uptight about your groups at a particular session or series of sessions. I remember going through all that for months if not years with the IZH 61 wondering if the gun really was accurate. Time will tell, and yes, it is extremely accurate.

    Thanks for the stats on 100,000 rounds. There is a callus on my forefinger where I engage the sidelever of the IZH 61. I believe that without a magazine rifle, I would never have come close to my practice totals.

    Mr. B. Yeah that trip was a drag. I have in mind a test to submit to Delta Force to ensure the quality of their recruits. Build them up for a trip to Hawaii and family reunion, then take it away. Fill up their bladders, inject them to cause pain in the right ankle (Did I mention I was having an attack of gout); rig multiple bags on them in such a way as to choke of their breathing; put them on a crazy subway system with the schedule hidden in fine print and where the stations are not sign-posted and the announcements are in gibberish; make them run up and downstairs and through crowds making sure not to damage the rc helicopter they are carrying. A true test of psychological stability and physical and bladder fitness….

    The shotgun article mentioned that they are developing some kind of grenade to go with it. Whew. Wayne, yes, I'm not surprised that a semiauto action will cut recoil, but that same action converted to full-auto would be uncontrollable. Here's a full-auto action that apparently has no recoil at all. This does sound new and revolutionary.


  10. B.B.,

    I highly recommend the leapers 3-9x32AO golden image scope…. for centerfire down to this great little springer…. but I don't see it on the website anymore.. so this one 3-9x40AO is next best, or even better, for a little more money. They focus down to 7 and 5 yards respectively, and are very clear for the money.

    Again, I feel the Bronco, with one of those scopes, is the perfect gun for a kid or adult.. starter gun or extra fun plinker..

    The darn little gem, is probably good enough for someone to start 10 meter off hand with it!

    I'm setting up a separate course here with targets from 7 yards to 25 yards for low power pistols and rifles like the Bronco. My hope is that adults will use open sighted pistols and compete with their kids using the Bronco.. That's why I have four of them in stock now!

    Wacky Wayne, Match Director, Ashland Air Rifle Range

  11. BB,
    You need to get a couple of those Leapers or (I think very similar, and perhaps even better in some applications) Tasco Golden Antler 3-9x32AO "airgun scopes" mounted on the Leapers one-piece base. It's easier that way to switch from one rifle to the other, at least for me. People may laugh at the Tasco, but I've shot groups <0.5" at 50 yards with it and it lived through an untuned 36-2, so you know it is tough:). I've been eyeing the Leapers because the turrets would be less obtrusive for field use than the full-sized target turrets on the Tasco.

  12. B.B.,

    Do you know of a quality spring piston rifle that will shoot a .177 caliber pellet accurately in the 950-1000 fps range that is also less than 7 pounds in weight with a cocking effort under 25 pounds? Or is this combination an impossibility?


  13. AlanL,

    As far as I know, it's im[possible. Light cocking means slower velocity.

    However, had you asked me if there is a high quality spring rifle that shoots fast and is light cocking the answer would be the FWB 124. 23 lbs. to cock and 880 f.p.s. after a Maccari tube. Accuracy is great but very hold-sensitive.

    Guns in the 950-1,000 f.p.s. range tend to be the cheaper ones that do not have the quality you seek. One exception is the Air Arms ProSport, but prepare for heavy cocking.



  14. Alan,

    Rather than spend all your time and money, why don't we just cut to the chase? I recommend the Benjamin Discovery. It's light, accurate and I think you'll enjoy it. The power is in the mid to high 900 f.p.s. region in .177 with medium-weight pellets.


  15. AlanL,

    Looks like that RWS is wearing you out. Your spec’s point to a BSA Lightning XL. I had an older UK model that was fairly nice; I believe they are now made in Spain. Perhaps PA will carry them some day?

    But guess what happens when you get 15 ft lbs out of a sub seven pound rifle?

  16. Volvo & BB,
    How close does a tuned (or slightly detuned) R9 come to AlanL's request? Many people seem to describe it as the perfect blend of R7 and R1, although I suppose it could also be considered something of a horrible compromise. I'm just asking, because it always seems to come up in my similarly parametrized search for ultimate springer:).

  17. To everyone who was interested in lasers,the BSA ND-3 laser[green] that has a 1" tube,comes w/remote trigger,adjustable mounts IS NOW IN STOCK!!!Anyone interested should know that I got the larger ND-5 and the quality is as impressive as the performance!I don't deserve one but I am getting one anyway…I'll review it here in a couple days. Frank B

  18. I have a FWB 124 that was my Dad's
    pest gun. It has a 30 year old Tasco 3X by 9X 32mm fixed objective. I don't know why but it will focus both cross hairs target clear at 15yds. This is the distance to the bird feeder.
    Squirrels check in, but don't leave. It is deadly, head shots only.


  19. Bud,the P11 is a P1 in some new outfit….My P1 has a very very nice trigger,and Hogue or Pachmyre or any 1911 .45 grips will fit them….check out the search box for a great review of the P1!

  20. Bg – Farmer,

    I agree with B.B. that the R-9 cocking effort maybe a little more than what Alan is looking for, but in the end he will figure out that a shrouded PCP in .22 caliber and an R-7 will make him happiest. Well, at least it works for me.

    Do you recall the Lightning being the winner of my power weight quest? Unfortunately that BSA jumped like a scared cat, who knew extra weight keeps the power manageable?


  21. AlanL,

    Re: Accurate spring gun that shoots a .177 950-1,000 fps that weighs under 7 lbs. and has cocking effort under 25 lbs.

    I think B.B. and Volvo hit it on the head. Go to a pcp if you want a pellet to go this fast in a lightweight gun and eliminate cocking effort.

    I'm going to share something with you that cost me alot of money and took alot of time.

    With very rare exception if you want a pellet to go faster than 900 fps in a spring gun you're talking a heavy gun with lots of cocking effort and requires LOTS of technique to shoot well some of the time. The FWB 124 is one of those exceptions but it should be tuned for a little less than 900 fps. Faster than 900 fps results in a very harsh gun.

    I'm with Volvo on this one. The maximum speed I want out of a springer is about 700 fps. In a 10 meter gun under 600 fps seems to work best. Not only do you get excellent accuracy but you get a lighter weight springer and minimal cocking effort.

    You obviously appreciate quality since you chose the Diana 54. When you enter the pcp world my suggestion is the Marauder. Great value and quiet out of the box. If you want the equivalent of the Diana 54 in a pcp look at the FX Cyclone or better yet an Air Arms S410.


  22. Volvo,

    You are a perspicacious man! Sometimes I yearn for something light and easy yet powerful, to take a break from the 54.

    "But guess what happens when you get 15 ft lbs out of a sub seven pound rifle?"
    I'm guessing… an almighty kick?

    The new Bronco in the closet beckons but that's a birthday surprise for a daughter waiting to happen, so I can't take it out yet.

    Kevin, B.B.,

    I don't think I'm ready for a PCP yet. The day I decide I am I think I'll jump in with both feet and go for the AA S410. Meanwhile, I haven't forgotten B.B.'s advice that when it comes to a .177, the TX200 Mk III is it, but that's another heavy gun.

    Thanks for all the ideas guys.


  23. AlanL,

    The last time I heard B.B. say,"Rather than spend all your time and money, why don't we just cut to the chase" was when he made a purchase recommendation to me a couple of years ago based on what I wanted to do with my gun. Followed his advice and it's still my go to gun.

    Parallax and not shooting off a bench probably are what's messing with your groups. I put a green laser on my scoped Talon SS. Both are sighted to the same POI at 16 yards. It's a real eye opener seeing how different cheek welds move the green dot all around the cross hairs, but it's really the cross hairs "being parallaxed" by an inconsistant cheek weld. (Parallax doesn't exist with a laser.)

    Frank B, the laser and scope are on a Talon SS. If you get a chance try your laser on your Condor and see if you notice the same thing? I think it's a good teaching tool.

    Mr B.

  24. BB,
    Yes, the cocking effort would be somewhat higher than 25 lbs., although the spec. of 40 seems excessive.

    Hold sensitivity (or the possibility thereof) is what tempered my enthusiasm for the R9, but I'm convinced from much reading on it that a moderate de-tune turns it into a fun shooter. Did you ever have one in any caliber? I always trust your reviews almost as much as BB's. Lately, I've been thinking about .22cal pellet rifles more (just because I haven't played with them much), but that is another complete can of worms, and the PCP's definitely start nosing toward the front:).

  25. Mr B,not only do I do it with the laser,I almost always leave the front sight on with my scope….the faint shadow is just visible enough to be certain it centers on the verticle reticle!Precision is guaranteed.I haven't mentioned it because most might disagree with the look.Squirrels and rats know all about it!!

  26. B.B.
    pertaining to deep seating

    I didnt read all the posts from today or yesterday so I may have missed something….however it would seem to me that seating the pellet deep would cause almost a dry firing effect because of the extra air volume?


  27. Lubricator,I think you have the right concept,but your scale/ratio is just exaggerated.I mean only that you overestimate the size of that pocket behind the pellet compared to the swept volume already in play…I think the fit variance from pellet to pellet has a similar effect to this ratio change.How about a tunable endcap that would allow change on the fly preload????I wonder if/when thats been tried?

  28. AlanL,

    How 'bout an inexpensive super low-powered spring gun that's fun to shoot all day?
    Doesn't meet any of your requirements except the low cocking effort
    Many of the regular contributors here have one (or four) and love it.

    I think this one was mentioned though it doesn't hit your stated velocity. It's
    a very refined medium powered gun that shoots exceedingly well.

  29. AlanL,

    “Sometimes I yearn for something light and easy yet powerful” How would 41.5 inches, 32 + ft lbs of energy and 5.95 lbs. sound to you? Add to that a 15 ounce scope and light two pieces mounts and you’ll barely break 7 lbs. That is what the PCP world can deliver. Not to mention slick or semi slick side levers, multiple shots, adjustable power, and quiet. Would quiet help given the proximity of your neighbors? If you had a magic wand, would the rifle you created be closer to the PCP I described or you’re RWS 54?

    Don’t get me wrong, I still fancy pellet guns that twang, but they are much more of an acquired taste and most palatable at 12 ft lbs or less.


  30. Bg Farmer,

    Consider saving yourself the de-tuning and some cash by going with an HW50S instead of an R-9. They have the same trigger as I’m sure you know and are built with the same type of end cap platform. The only downside is the HW50S stock is very utilitarian and slightly Bavarian, but I think you may actually enjoy that?
    You could go either way caliber wise on the HW50S, but definitely go .22 on a PCP. The .177 just is not as efficient in extracting power in a PCP. .22 caliber usually has a slightly better shot count too. Lastly, there are too few heavy quality pellets in .177.

    On another note, I swapped out the trigger on my Daisy Gamo for one of the gold up grade triggers last night. Bling Bling. I can report that it is light, but needs much fine tuning. Also, furnace duct work shot at 630 fps by a flat nosed pellet dents, but is not penetrated. : )

  31. Mr. B.,

    How very astute of you to mention using a laser to demonstrate parallax through a scope! I stumbled into that at the trade shows AirForce used to send me to. I would sight in a Condor and get a laser aligned with the crosshairs at a certain distance (always a wall of ceiling object, to keep people from pointing guns and lasers at other people). But the laser only stayed aligned with the crosshair at that one distance.

    Itv was dramatic against a wall that sloped away from my position. You could see the dot slide up and down against the crosshair as the distance changed. All you had to do was look through the scope and traverse the rifle to see it move.

    You also saw the laser dot go from one side of the vertical reticle to the other, as it was impossible to get those two perfectly aligned.

    Maybe I'll do a report?


  32. Frank B and B.B.

    Frank I beleive your right I didnt really think of pellet size and the ratio or extra air would be small.

    B.B. adjustabe air port are you talking a JW? If so it would scare me to play with such a gem.

    thanks you two


  33. Lubricator,

    That's a good guess, but no, I don't mean a Whiscombe. Back when I was putting the R1 book together Dennis Quackenbush made an R1 spring tube that has replaceable air transfer ports. I wrote about it in the book and I think also in The Airgun Letter.

    I'll show you on Friday.


  34. Hi I am new to this stuff, anyone know what kind of peep sight would be good for the bronco? I know mendoza makes some good ones, but I have read many reviews about the problems with height, will that be a problem with the bronco? If so, what peep sight would be good? thanks.

  35. Peeping Anonymous

    I would ask your question on the current day's blog which can be found here:


    Even though this article is only a couple days old, fewer people will read it, and hence your comment, than if you post it to the current day. I liken it to posting an ad in the classifieds section of the newspaper. You wouldn't post an ad in an old newspaper would you? No, you put it in the current one. (BBs articles are WAY better than old newspapers however.) Also don't worry about your comment or question being off topic on the current day's blog. No one minds.

    I cannot answer your question because I am unfamiliar with peep sights. I put a Leapers bugbuster 3-9x32AO on my Bronco. It is the perfect size.

  36. Can someone give me a brand name or tell me what to look for of some non petroleum distillate based oil as I'm not ready to make another order to PA until I make up my mind as to which blowback BB pistol I want. I live in a small town with no airgun dealers and looked yesterday at WM and the local firearms dealer for some with no joy. Remoil says on it that it is petroleum distillate based. The manual on my P30 says to use a non petro based oil on the moving parts such as trigger hinge etc. Sorry for all the ?'s but I'm a newbie.

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