by B.B. Pelletier

Test and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

The Beeman P3 with dot sight is a great-looking air pistol.

Today, we’ll look at the performance of Mac’s personal Beeman P3 pistol. You’ll remember that this is a single-stroke pneumatic pistol with some fine handling features and a great trigger. Two things that many owners have mentioned is that the pistol is difficult to load and that it’s hard to pump (they often say cock). I disagree with the loading statement but agree with the pumping one. While the P3 isn’t as easy to load as a breakbarrel rifle, it’s not that difficult, either. You just have to learn the technique.

As for the pumping, it’s about average for a single-stroke of this power and size. It’s surprising those without previous single-stroke experience. A Gamo Compact target pistol of similar size and power is equally difficult to pump. For the record, Mac agrees that the pistol is difficult to load.

It’s been very hot on the East Coast this summer; and when Mac tested the P3 outdoors, it was 95 deg. F with high humidity. The wind was still on test day.

Crosman Premier lites
The 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite averaged 383 f.p.s. with a total velocity spread from 380 to 387. That’s just seven f.p.s., which is pretty typical of a single-stroke. Their reservoirs hold the same amount of air from shot to shot and they tend to be very consistent. I did not test my Marksman 2004 (which is now the Beeman P17) with Premiers, so no comparison is available. The average energy for this pellet was 2.57 foot pounds.

RWS Hobbys
The RWS Hobby pellet averaged 409 f.p.s. with a 10 foot/second spread from 406 to 416. That’s an average muzzle energy of 2.6 foot-pounds. The Hobby weighs only 7 grains and is made of nearly pure lead, so it should be among the fastest of the lead pellets. Once again, I have no comparison numbers from my Marksman 2004 with Hobbys.

JSB Exact pellets
The next pellet Mac tested was the JSB Exact Match, weighing 8.4 grains. The name Match is misleading because this is a domed pellet, not a wadcutter, but that’s what it says on the tin. They averaged 385 f.p.s. with a max spread of 9 f.p.s., from 379 to 388. The average muzzle energy was 2.77 foot-pounds — the highest of the four pellets tested. By coincidence, I’d also tested the Marksman 2004 with this pellet. In my gun, it averaged 411 f.p.s., so somewhat faster than Mac’s gun. I estimate my pistol has about 400-600 shots on it, while Mac figures his has about 1,000.

H&N Finale Match Pistol
The 7.56-grain H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet averaged 396 f.p.s. with a 6 foot/second spread, from 393 to 399. The average muzzle energy was 2.63 foot-pounds. That was the lowest velocity spread of the four pellets tested.

This o-ring seals the breech when the barrel is closed.

The comparison?
In this report, I did something I almost never do. I compared two airguns against one another. I did it because the Beeman P3 and Beeman P17 are so much alike, yet their prices are so far apart. The differences that I know of boil down to this: the P3 has an ultra-crisp trigger while the P17 trigger has some creep, and the P3 has a reputation for reliability while the P17 has been known to have sealing problems.

In the next report, Mac will show us the accuracy of this pistol. You’ll recall that he’s mounted a red dot sight on his gun, plus he shot it rested, so you can expect the best the gun has to give. We’ll learn what that is in Part 3.