by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and testing by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

The Marksman model 60 was a special version of the famed HW77 air rifle.

Well, I last reported on this rifle back before Christmas. Do you remember it? This is the Marksman model 60 version of the famed HW77 underlever air rifle that’s still available today. Back when this one was selling, Marksman discounted it deeply, making it one of the great sleepers of all time. It sold for less money when new back in the early 1990s, and it still commands less money on the used market, even though it’s an HW77 rifle is every respect. Go figure, but use this knowledge to enrich yourself should the opportunity ever arise, as it did for Mac.

Today, we’ll look at the performance, and I have to remind you that back when this rifle was new, 12 foot-pounds was a lot bigger thing than it is today. The Germans didn’t understand how free we are here in the U.S., and they viewed the UK limit of 12 foot-pounds as magnum power since they were restricted to less than 6 foot-pounds within their own country.

The American buyers obviously didn’t understand much about energy, either. They just bought things based on price, so the opportunity to get a 14 foot-pound air rifle slipped right past them. Beeman was the only company that had a clue, and they bought the full-powered American-spec HW77 rifle and carbine.

What I’m telling you is that this model 60 is a 12 foot-pound gun, which means it will never (or should never) rise up to that limit. To remain legal in the UK as an airgun and not a firearm, it must always register LESS than 12 foot-pounds regardless of what pellet is used.

Mac tested a number of different pellets. Many of these he’ll also test for accuracy, so we’ll see performance in both dimensions.

JSB Exact Diablolo 8.4-grain pellets
The 8.4-grain JSB Exact Diabolo dome pellet is a classic one that should always be tested in a springer that isn’t a super-magnum. It should be about perfect for this rifle. They averaged 784 f.p.s. in this rifle with a total velocity spread of just 11 f.p.s. The range went from 777 to 788 f.p.s. They produced 11.47 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Bear in mind that this rifle is 25 years old or more and hasn’t been shot at all for the past 10 years. It has never been tuned (I know the history of the gun and owner and verify this as correct), and Mac did nothing but shoot it when he got it. So, all you guys who think you have to tear into these guns the moment you get them, take a minute and reflect on that. These things are great just as they come from the factory and do not need to be lubricated or taken apart for many decades, for the most part.

JSB Exact Diabolo Heavy 10.2-grain domed pellets
The next pellet Mac tested was the 10.2-grain JSB Exact dome. It’s a heavy pellet for a springer, and it averaged 690 f.p.s. in this rifle. The velocity spread was 16 f.p.s., from 681 to 697 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 10.79 foot-pounds. So, here’s a case of a heavier pellet not performing as well in a springer, and in my experience, this is typical.

RWS Superdome pellets
The RWS Superdome is one of Mac’s favorite pellets. He has touted them to me for many years, and I know this opinion is shared by many of the readers of this blog. In this rifle, they averaged 778 f.p.s., however the extreme velocity spread was a surprising 46 f.p.s. They ranged from 754 to 800 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 11.16 foot-pounds.

RWS Hobby pellets
UK airgun manufacturers and retailers have to beware of lightweight lead pellets like the RWS Hobby. That’s because lightweight lead pellets are often the most efficient in spring-piston guns, and it’s these pellets that can trip the 12 foot-pound legal limit. In the test rifle, they averaged 870 f.p.s. with an extreme spread of 37 f.p.s. They ranged from 851 to 888 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 11.77 foot-pounds, the highest of all pellets tested.

RWS HyperMAX pellets
Just for fun, Mac tested the rifle with RWS Hypermax pellets. They often increase the velocity of an airgun by up to several hundred f.p.s. In the Marksman model 60, they averaged 959 f.p.s. with an extreme spread of 32 f.p.s. They ranged from 937 to 969 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 10.62 foot-pounds.

Crosman Premier lite pellets
Next, Mac tested the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier domed pellet. It would have been a classic good pellet to use in this rifle in its day, and even today. It averaged 790 f.p.s. with an extreme velocity spread of 17 f.p.s. over ten shots. The range went from 781 to 798 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 10.95 foot-pounds.

Crosman Premier heavy pellets
The last pellet Mac tested was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy dome. While heavier pellets are generally not recommended for spring-piston guns of average power like the test rifle, you should always test them to make sure you haven’t overlooked a diamond. Sometimes, life can surprise you. In this rifle they averaged 619 f.p.s,. with a spread of 34 f.p.s., from 591 to 625 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 8.94 foot-pounds…the lowest recorded in this test.

Mac shoots several shots with each new pellet before recording the velocity. This is to condition the bore to the new pellet, and it seems to improve stability.

Well, there you have it. The Marksman model 60 is a 12 foot-pound air rifle. That means all Marksman model 60 and 61 air rifles are probably 12 foot-pounds, as well. It’s difficult to boost the power of these guns as their strokes have been shortened to keep the guns legal under all circumstances. Who cares? For a lot less money, you can get a real HW77 rifle with all the bells and whistles. Keep your eyes open for Marksman 60 and 61 rifles!