by B.B. Pelletier
This inexpensive Chinese underlever has been around in one form or another for many decades.
Today, I’ll finish the report on the B3-1 underlever rifle. I did this report for C-S, who now goes by the handle Milan, and for a couple other readers who said they wanted to know something about these older Chinese airguns. We ran Mac’s report of the Weihrauch HW97 underlever at the same time, so if you wanted to compare the two rifles it was possible. Actually, there wasn’t much to compare — just a lot to contrast, because these two air rifles couldn’t be farther apart.
I shot the rifle from a rest at 10 meters because I wasn’t confident that the rifle could perform at a longer distance. At least at 10 meters it would stay on the target paper. I used the artillery hold with the rifle rested on the backs of my fingers for maximum stability.
The firing behavior is quite harsh. Until I actually shot at targets and aimed the rifle, I didn’t notice how harsh it is, but today I can report that this rifle really hits you back when it fires. It doesn’t vibrate for a long time the way some spring guns do. Instead, it has a sudden, harsh jolt when the gun goes off. It’s not at all pleasant.
Also, I was bothered by the short pull of the stock. I had said in part 1 that it didn’t bother me that much; but when coupled with the sharp slap on firing, I find the stock too short for good work. I think this is more of a personal taste issue than an ergonomic observation, because the Air Venturi Bronco’s stock pull is even shorter, and I don’t mind it at all.
The RWS Hobby pellet was up first. They shot high and to the left at 10 meters. I could adjust the rear sight to the right, but it was already set as low as it will go, so this rifle is probably regulated for 20 yards or so. Nothing wrong with that, but you do need to know it.
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this mediocre group at 10 meters. It measures about 1.5 inches across.
The firing cycle was quick and harsh. I didn’t appreciate how harsh it was during velocity testing in Part 2, but with the rifle held against my shoulder, it really irritated me. And, the trigger-pull is far too heavy to do good work.
JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes
The next pellet up was the JSB Exact dome. These weigh 8.4 grains, and they seem to fit the breech of the rifle quite well. However, once again, the group was around 1.5 inches for 10 shots at 10 meters.
The group is centered in the bull better, but really no tighter than the Hobbys.
Crosman Premier lites
The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. Usually, it’s very accurate in most guns, but the B3-1 didn’t seem to want to shoot anything well. So, another 1.5-inch group of 10…more or less.
Another so-so group with the B3-1. At least the rifle is consistent.
As you know, I tested this rifle to satisfy the curiosity of several readers, but also to satisfy my own curiosity. For years, I’ve been reading that the Chinese airguns aren’t that bad. Well, if this one is any example, they still are!
I’ve also read many glowing reports on the internet about fantastic B3-1 rifles that deliver performance beyond that of the finest airguns Europe had to offer. Don’t you believe it. These rifles are at the extreme low end of performance and only by careful tuning can they be brought up to a level that is partially acceptable.