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Ammo β€Ί The great accuracy test: Part 1

The great accuracy test: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

I am on the road with Mac today. I will be back on Wednesday, so I’m asking all the old hands to help the new readers with their questions.

Today, I have a huge audience participation test starting up. We’re all going to design a test to prove what are the most beneficial things you can do for accuracy and what doesn’t matter. I envision this as a series of tests to demonstrate what really works and what doesn’t matter.

Before we can do even that, we all have to decide what accuracy is. I’m writing an article for this website and I’m struggling to define accuracy, so this isn’t as straightforward as it seems. One guy measures 50-yard groups with a caliper and another drops field targets. And a third guy is looking for how fast the squirrels fall from the first shot. Yet they all use the same word –accuracy — to describe what’s important to them.

So, what does accuracy really mean? How will we know it if we see it? Remember, somebody, most likely me, will have to actually do this test, so let’s keep it real, okay? This is where you guys with your guns in vises have to be reasonable, because nobody takes a vise to a field target match or into the woods.

Many will say they want to know how accurate the rifle or pistol is, so if they’re off they know for sure that it’s them and not the gun. Please, don’t be so naive! The gun can always be a source of inaccuracy, regardless of how accurate you think it is. So, we have to keep this discussion out in the open and in the real world where we can really conduct a test and believe the results.

To give you an idea of what I mean, let me take a stab at it.

Testing for accuracy
I think the first thing is to select a certain airgun. Then that gun should be tested under realistic conditions and circumstances. That means no 100-yard shooting, and no shooting inside a warehouse where there is no wind. We need to use a realistic range (meaning distance to the target) and a realistic shooting position. I like shooting from a bench, because I can do my best there. And I like shooting at least 25 yards, because it’s easy for me to get that much range (meaning more tests can be conducted), which gives me a greater body of data to examine.

Once a baseline of testing is completed, experimentation may begin. For example, given the most accurate rifle and pellet from the first test, how much improvement can be obtained?

Does sorting the pellets by weight make much difference? How about sorting by size? How would we do the latter?

Are there any other things we should do regarding pellets?

How much of a factor is wind? Should we ignore it, or try to cancel it altogether?

The gun can always be a source of inaccuracy, regardless of how accurate you think it is.

Some concerns
If we use an expensive rifle as our testbed, very few readers will be able to participate. I want this to be a test that almost anyone can enjoy.

If we start out with the most accurate airgun we own, there might not be much room for improvement. Here’s what I mean by that. Two weeks ago, when I showed a group I got with a 10-meter rifle that measured 0.16 inches and compared it to a group measuring 0.24 inches, a couple readers thought that it didn’t look very different. And, we have readers who are convinced that there are rifles that can put five pellets under 0.08 inches repeatedly. A 100 percent improvement over a group of that size would not look very dramatic.

If, on the other hand, I selected a rifle that groups 5 shots into 2.0 inches at 25 yards, it may not be capable of grouping much better. It would then be nothing but a waste of time. I need to pick something that’s reasonably accurate, though not the most accurate rifle known.

The rifle I select should be common enough that any reader should be able to pick something equivalent, even if it isn’t made by the same manufacturer. So, I might choose a Diana 34, but you might do the same test as me but maybe with a Gamo Big Cat. In my rifle, a certain JSB pellet might be the best, while in yours it might be a particular RWS pellet. Understand? I was tempted to choose a TX200 at first, but that isn’t good because there aren’t a lot of rifles that can match it and they would all cost a lot of money. I could choose a Marauder and the same reasoning applies. But a Diana 34 is a plain old breakbarrel that exists in enough quantity that most readers would have a decent chance to run the test right alongside me.

If we do it that way, you can choose whatever model rifle you want and use a different pellet than I do. In fact, I don’t see why you couldn’t choose a different powerplant altogether if we do it this way. However, once you establish your baseline, you have to stick with it throughout the test, or the results become meaningless.

I think 10-shot groups are right for this test, rather than 5. Ten shots are far less capricious than 5. The best groups will tend to be close to the same size. Until we have that, we shouldn’t proceed, because we haven’t found the real baseline yet. Once we get a couple groups of the same size and they’re better than any other pellet/hold/anything else, we have our baseline.

I’m going to use a good scope for this test, because my eyes are not what they used to be. Yes, I can shoot tight groups at 100 yards with the Ballard, but no sporting airgun sights are as good as the ones on the Ballard. A 10-meter rifle has sights just as good, but a 10-meter rifle is at a disadvantage shooting at 25 yards, plus not as many people will be able to participate.

My vision for this test
Here’s what I see happening. In the first test phase, we’ll establish a baseline for accuracy with the test rifle. Hopefully, we’ll find a really accurate pellet and shoot a couple groups that are similar in size. I plan on selecting domed pellets for the baseline test, because in all of my experience, they’ll out-shoot any other pellet shape at 25 yards.

Then, we’ll begin testing things that supposedly improve accuracy. Some of these may be:

  • Sorting the selected pellets by weight.
  • Sorting pellets by size (if we can agree how that’s done).
  • Cleaning the barrel.
  • Lubed pellets versus dry pellets.
  • And anything else we can agree to test. If you want me to test something, you have to submit a test plan and the reasoning why you think it will work. Just dreaming up things doesn’t cut it; but if you’ve done this and think it works, that might fly.

    The expected outcome
    I hope to show the things that work and the things that don’t. When anyone wants to improve their accuracy in the future, they can take the recommendations we get and apply them to their own situation.

    Will it work?
    I have no idea. Right now, I do think there will be a difference in group sizes between weighed and random pellets. Back when I competed in field target, I did weigh all my pellets. Because I shot a PCP at the end of my competitive years, I also lubed all pellets. I believe that does help, too, if the rifle is a PCP, but I want your input into this. In other words, what have I forgotten?

    Please give me solid recommendations that I can act upon, and I’ll assemble them for the first test. At this point, everything is open to interpretation and debate, so please let your voice be heard!

    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 Airgunsβ„’ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

    174 thoughts on “The great accuracy test: Part 1”

    1. I can see that results are going to vary quite a bit as to what is going to make a significant difference.
      Some rifles are a lot more touchy about what they want to eat than others are. I would not expect two different rifles with consecutive serial numbers to be alike.

      Different things you can do with pellets are going to have different degrees of effect on different rifles.
      For example, with a very consistent batch of pellet that fits well and shoots good you may find that lubed/unlubed will make the most difference. With a pellet choice that is severely different in size consistency you may find out that size sorting will give the most noticeable effect. What about weight difference? There can be a lot of reasons for weight difference. Some kinds of differences can have more effect than others.

      I think you will end up with a mixed bag of results. The final conclusion may be that there are no rules except for one….
      That every rifle decides what is going to make much difference and what is not.


    2. The RWS 34 is a great gun to choose. I think its a fair match to a lot of 1000fps guns sold at big box stores…. Although I’ll buy a German made RWS over a Chinese made clone of the same gun any day.

      Accuracy is tricky… it depends on the purpose of the job… Hunters shooting hollow points have a range and ethical kill challenge. 10m target shooters need repeatability, consistency, and a light trigger. One needs 0.5-1″ accuracy with power and flat trajectory whereas the other needs pin point accuracy and little power.

      I would argue accuracy is really “system accuracy” which includes the shooter (bench, freehand, hide), trigger (repeatable, clean let off, light, heavy), pellet (hollow, wad, dome), environment (night/day/dusk/dawn/wind/temperature), range (variable, fixed), target (animal, paper, plinking), sighting system (cheap scope, expensive scope, peep, iron), gun behavior (hold sensitive, break in time, charge pressure, barrel leading, etc.)

      Since its a system test – whatever you test will be specific and personal to you and your abilities.

      BUT I’d say what most people at a range would say… get a quality gun, get a quality brand sighting system, find the pellet/bullet it likes, and LEARN TO SHOOT IT. I’ve seen people own guns and never spend the time to learn how to shoot it well.

    3. I think we need a baseline measurement CTC at 25 yards with little to no wind, call it a “warehouse” shot but, any significant wind makes the testing invalid. I do agree about some level of real world methodology and readily available guns. $3000 Steyer match guns are already a known quantity and the shooter is 90%+ of the equation in that world. We should probably divert into two types of guns; 1) Pneumatics and Gas guns 2) Spring guns. The reasons are probably obvious, 1) Little or no recoil and 2) Recoil.

      So, the question remains, for group 1, is .250″ CTC a reasonable expectation from a bench position at 25 yards? For group 2, is .375″ CTC reasonable? For any testing to be valid, there must be a set of criteria to test against and this would be mine for the target measurement(s). All the above assumes a .177 caliber pellet.

      • I have to agree on a no wind stipulation. Much of the time a difference in pellet preperation is not going to give noticeable relsults when shooting in wind. Otherwise you are just whizzing in the wind.
        You can’t get consistent results that way.


        • If you’re studying “accuracy” of the rifle, you want to take everything except the gun out of the equation. That means no wind, because coping with wind is shooter-skill-dependent and wind dependent too. I think that does mean a “warehouse” or shot tunnel if you want results that stack up. And it also means finding a way to take the shooter out of the equation too.

          • Which probably also takes most spring/air and pump pneumatics out too; since cocking them will likely require removing them from whatever vice the action is clamped into.

            Leaves CO2 and pre-charged pneumatics… And in steady temperatures, the CO2 will probably be better as the pressure isn’t dropping between shots. Though any PCP using a regulator on the output might do. Or maybe run a fill hose equipped with a regulator set to the PCPs optimal pressure from a high capacity tank, so the gun “refills” on each shot.

            I suppose something like a large Ransom rest with custom inserts molded to the receiver of a spring/air would do. With the rest firmly clamped to the bench, opening it to remove, cock/load, and replace the action shouldn’t result in too much variation. Though cocking without a stock attached may be difficult.

          • pete z,

            I agree. Too much wind changes everything. When I took my Gamo Hunter Extreme out to the desert, I was able to hit a 7″ frying pan, at a 100 yards, the majority of the time (maybe 80%). However, the wind was fairly predictable, and I had all the time in the world to wait for favorable conditions. This past Saturday, I was shooting a 5″ inch group with the same rifle at 50 yards. The reason for 50 yard groups being 71% the size of 100 yard groups was the nature of the wind and the fact that I was being rushed. This Saturday, the winds were not only high, but also randomly changing in direction. It was near closing time, so I couldn’t wait out the wind. This forced me to see the extreme effects of high winds. Since you can’t predict the wind, you’re bound to have a few shots pushed out, like flyer’s. This, in my opinion, invalidates accuracy tests in which you hope to make comparisons between variables.


      • J-F, I agree, there needs to be a minimum set of criteria or the results will only have meaning or real world application for the person who did the shooting. Normally a DOE or design of experiments establishes controllables and uncontrollables, normal variation etc, etc. Not suggesting a full bown DOE here but, some common test criteria, regardless of gun, pellet type etc.

        e.g., benchrest but not a vise, little or no wind, 25 yards, etc, etc.

      • The most steady shooting position is going to be a must.

        I have a neighbor who would gladly have me shoot left handed, standing on one foot, blindfolded, in a 50 mph gusting crosswind at 200 yds to prove to himself that my rifle is not accurate.


          • Yeh.
            This guy is a real prize.
            He wants to get together some time to shoot airguns. Mine of course because he has none.
            First thing he will do is comment on the poor finish even if it is flawless. Then he will comment that it can’t be accurate because it is not rifled and the pellets always have to be tumbling.
            Attempts at straightening him out are useless. He always reverts back to his predisposed ideas the next time I see him. Have known him for better than 20 yrs and found that his lack of ability to learn anything and his delusions that he is somehow superior will never change.


              • If I was to drag my bench rest over to his house on a nice day he would crap himself to see me nailing paintballs at 25 yds. Then for the coup-de -grass, switch to airsoft ammo for targets. Might miss one once in a while or ding up a golf tee in the processs.

                Of course his story later on would be that he was hitting #6 shotgun pellets off hand at 50 yds while I could not hit a mop bucket at half the distance.

                I am sure you know the guy by another name.


            • twotalon,
              Hey! He’s my neighbor too. Man, this guy really gets around. If I say 1+1=2, he’ll say “No it isn’t”. Everyone is wrong, and only he’s right. It’s best to just smile at him from a distance.

            • Just tell him you need his “expertise and wisdom” in setting and re-setting targets, shooting is just child’s play, it’s all about target set-up and placement.

    4. To me, accuracy is the mechanical capacity of the gun. The mechanical capacity can be increased by doing things to give a more constant velocity, improving lockup, or work on the barrel such as bore polishing or crown work. I guess pellet selection is part of mechanical capacity.

      Shooting accurately is shooting as close as possible to the mechanical capacity of a gun. As mentioned, shooting accurately can be improved by varying the hold of the gun, changing optics, breathing techniques, etc.

      I think to do this test, you first start with mechanical capacity in the guns current state. Once you feel you have maximized mechanical capacity, move on to shooting accurately. I know it is really impossible to completely separate the two unless you can machine mount the gun to test mechanical capacity.

      David Enoch

    5. This should be a very interesting exercise for me to monitor because I am looking to buy my second air rifle.

      I presently own a Gamo CFX with a Leapers 4-12 scope and a GRT III trigger. Using H & N Field Target Trophy pellets from a bench rest, I can routinely produce 10 shot groups at 20 yards that I can completely cover with a dime.

      I have been trying to duplicate this at further ranges, but have as of yet not accomplished such. Perhaps this exercise will provide me with some ideas to improve my grouping and also the real limits of my CFX and other air rifles.

      • You are doing extremely well with your 20 yard “dime size” groups. The CFX is a Hunter, not a 10 m match gun. I would be glad to do the same with my HW97K, and have, but only from the bench!

        • That is why I am looking for another rifle. I believe I have taken the CFX as far as it will go. I am an “accuracy freak”. I can shoot for hours, trying to tighten my groups at farther ranges. If you cannot hit what you are shooting at, what good is 500 FPE. It does not take much power to put a hole in a piece of paper. That is all I shoot at, other than an occasional drink can.

          I am looking for an “accurate” rifle.

          • Sounds like 10 meter shooting with the right (recoiless) rifle would bore you early on given your distance comments.

            So, which variable power, highly precise and repeatable PCP rifle do you have in mind!? The Air Arms S510 comes to mind, but so does the S200 or even a Marauder?

            • I have seriously considered 10 meter rifles myself. If I go that route and I start to get bored, I would take up mini sniping. That sounds like it could be fun.

              I have been thinking of an Airforce Edge or Talon SS. From what I have heard, they are pretty accurate and there are all kinds of after market mods you can do to them.

              • ridgerunner,
                For what you’re looking for (competition) the Edge would be the better choice. The Talon SS is a mighty fine rifle and accurate, too. I have one and enjoy shooting it but it is not a 10m competition rifle where the Edge is. I thought about geting an Edge myself. The Edge has stock adjustments and other 10m acutrements that the bottle shape stocked SS doesn’t. For precision shooting the Edge will be more comfortable than the Talon. The Talon SS (1,000fps) is twice as powerful as the Edge (530fps) and better suited for game where the Edge was designed for 10m competition not hunting.

    6. I think this is a loaded question to a degree. If you choose one airgun and use it exclusively, chances are you’ll become a better shooter than you might if you had, say, too many airguns. There are few people who really work above a predetermined goal they set for themselves. Either they attain a satisfactory degree of certainty with a given hunting rifle, or they achieve it with a match rifle. In both cases we know that either rifle is capable of more than the shooter. More importantly, a shooter becomes more familiar with one rifle over time than several. Sure, some of us can pick up one rifle after another and attain close to our best averages but the best of the best follow fairly closely with the man with one gun rule.

      The only thing I think you’ll achieve is becoming better with whichever rifle it is you choose for the test. The median level of proficiency achieved will apply to Pelleteer. Not the rifle itself. There are numerous ways to test a rifle from action mounted on a rail to any variation on what some call field accuracy. The bias always bows to individual tastes and ability. As it always has.


        • I’m right there with you Brian.

          Too much ammunition.
          Too good a meal.
          Too much fun.
          Too happy a life.

          A toast! To too many airguns!

          (Is that phrase even allowed on this blog?) πŸ˜‰

          • SL,

            Too many airguns? Are you insane? Do I have to ban you from this blog for something that’s akin to cursing?!

            That’s like saying you’ve got too much ammo, too many firearms, too many flashlights (I might give in to that one πŸ™‚ ), too many pocketknives, too many cats, too much chocolate….I see I’m getting off on a tangent & will stop now πŸ™‚


            • Edith

              I have been an airgun fanatic for about two and a half years and I own 20 airguns (I think.) If my math is right, that works out to one airgun purchase every 45.6 days!

              I am holding the banner high. Please don’t ban me Edie! πŸ˜‰

              • SL,

                I think you may have to pick up the pace. There are weeks when when the UPS & FedEx guys stop here everyday…and I’m not talking about deliveries of test guns from Pyramyd AIR.

                If you don’t need a revolving door on your home, then you aren’t doing your share of buying/selling/trading.

                If nothing else, I’ve been well-trained by Tom πŸ™‚


            • Edith,
              I think instead of listing all those too muches you can sum up your plight by saying too much Tom. We’ll know exactly what you mean. πŸ™‚ Except for the cats. We know they’re your fault.

            • Matt61,

              Tom’s taken some flashlights with him on his trip, but there are 6 on his nightstand right now. I don’t have enough fingers & toes to count all the ones scattered around his office (as if I could even find them!).

              I have 2 itty bitty ones on my keychain. I have a tactical flashlight with tactical bezel in my car…down in the center console where I can quickly kick it open & grab it and either blind a perpetrator or crush his temple by pounding it with the bezel.

              I’m eyeballing a 1400-lumen flashlight. I see there’s also a 3,000+ lumen flashlight. It’s a big honker, though, and doesn’t have a tactical bezel. Of course, slapping someone up the side of the head with it might do as much damage as a tactical bezel.

              Of course, I also have my Glock with the internal laser. I’m not crazy…I’m just not going to be a victim. I hope & pray I never have to defend myself. But I’ll answer the call if needed.

              Don’t mess with Texas is our state’s anti-littering slogan. Don’t mess with Edith is my slogan πŸ™‚


          • Is it OK to claim you CAN count them without actually taking the time to count them? Does that count? I hesitate to say I have “Too many”……although I would say I have enough!(for now).
            The only test criteria I would humbly suggest…..would be that all results be expressed in percentage
            smaller or larger.That is the only way I see of unilaterally combining results to make sense.For example,
            my lubed groups are 8% smaller than dry groups……

    7. I think this will be an interesting test and am looking forward to it.
      Having a consistent testing procedure and sticking to it is, in my opinion the first thing one needs to do to get an indication of a new gun. If one always does the first tests in the same manner…religously…than one at least has a starting point to evaluate the gun.
      But as mentioned, I expect different things from different guns, and will cut some slack to guns that are meant for plinking as opposed to 10m work. This is why I don’t see the point when people complain that a $100 Chinese knockoff won’t provide 1/4″ c to c accuracy at 10yards…it’s not what the gun is likely meant for anyway, so why hold it to that standard.
      If I wanted Ferrari performance I wouldn’t expect it from a KIA…but many in the airgun community seem to feel this way.
      Anyhoo…shoot away

    8. I agree with the majority. Wind cannot be a factor in this accuracy test. To the list of potential options to implement after establishing a base line I’d suggest:

      Cancelling cant/installing and using an anti-cant device
      Seating pellets deeper than just flush with a finger that was used to establish the base line


    9. Can we have a 10m class included? From watching this blog I see not many of us have 25yds but many of us can carve out 10m. If not, is there a reason why what works for 25yds wouldn’t work for 10m also?

      Also, my opinion is aligned with Dave Enoch. I would add or re-emphasize if you don’t know the mechanical capabilities of a rifle you don’t know the true baseline. In the blog example a rifle that shoots 2″ groups was mentioned. How do you know if a rifle shoots 2″ groups if you don’t know it’s mechanical capabilities and why on earth would anyone ever buy one? What purpose would a rifle like that serve?

      • Chuck

        The purpose of these rifles is to rid yourself of any of those pathetic misshapen lumps that Daisy proudly bills as “pellets.” Gamo PBAs too for that matter. Spitballs are more accurate, so why not use a gun that SPECIALIZES in inaccuracy?

      • Chuck,

        “What purpose would a rifle like that serve?”

        People buy airguns for all sorts of reasons, and many of them have nothing do with accuracy. I’ve read many of the columns written about airguns by yahoos who know zip about them. These guys don’t know how to shoot springers. They frequently have large groups & say they’re typical for airguns. Often, they look at price only and have no idea why anyone would pay more for an airgun since the accuracy will always be same.

        I guess it’s easier to condemn a whole group of products than to admit you don’t know diddly.


    10. BB,
      I hope you have a crew of pro worm-herders and ropers standing by, mounted and prepared because I suspect you’re opening the all-time, Supremo can of worms!
      After a full 27 seconds of deliberately and prudently considering the vast, multi-faceted array of challenges in getting any assortment of shooters to agree on a definition of accuracy I am daunted by your bravery.
      However!———having been (metaphorically) looking over your shoulder since you first dove into the troubled waters of airgun journalism I find my cynical side whispering that you are deliberately stoking the fire of a pot-boiler calculated to continue to provide employment for both you and Edith for the foreseeable future. In which case you have risen in my esteem since the approaching storm may prove a challenge to ride out without an epic stampede.
      Distant rumbling and flashes in the sky already presage the approaching storm and the herders need to be in the saddle now trying to calm the herd and prepared to turn the the herd before it goes over the cliff.
      The wisdom of Prof Hoff is sorely missed at such junctures! Respects, Tom @ Buzzard Bluff

    11. Also, if my previous comment sounds too negative and nay-saying I want you to know I’m still very interested and excited in seeing this test done. I can just feel that some good will come out of this and perhaps fuel some future blog articles.

    12. This is a great idea. I can stand to learn a few things about accuracy. My input is to K.I.S.S. so that more people can participate. Those new to airgunning and/or without the resources of a few of you will not be able to keep up if the tests get too complicated or if additional equipment is required.

      Also, perhaps index the data of the most common rifles and then cross reference the results to show what happened. Per model: for Diana 34 the following were noted to increase/decrease accuracy… Per type: for mid-priced spring piston air rifles, the following were noted to consistently increase/decrease…

    13. How about a standardized warm-up shot before each test group? Would it be a good idea to shoot one pellet before starting to take data? Two? Three? Or will it not matter?

    14. Lots of stuff here, some of my thoughts:

      For the airgun, I would pull one out HW series. The Diana line as you know has had a host of triggers which probably impact accuracy second only to the barrel. The Rekord has remained consistent across the board for 50 years and also across the model lineup. Anyone who reads this forum could save up enough for one, new or used.

      A ten shot group means not shooting to point of aim or using a large plus sign on the target to keep the aim point consistent. It also introduces more room for human error and I usually get bored around number 7, so five would work for me.

      As others suggested no wind would seem crucial. I also personally use two distances, one indoors and one outside. My own acid test indoors involves hitting a spot about the size of a .177 caliber pellet four times in a row. If a rifle won’t do this, it never makes it out of my basement. If it does, the rifle then gets tested at about 42 yards outdoors for groups. For me, that seems a fair distance before drop gets bad.

      I have found that the commercial lubes can work their way into the compression chamber and cause a rifle to diesel. The kind you make yourself seems impractical due to variances in the recipe and ingredients. You know people will substitute stuff. Heck, most are still looking for cheaper pel- gun oil.

      One variable I have played with is how the rifle is held or rested, that can be very interesting.

      • Volvo

        Thanks for the lead on the Webley. It is a steal at that price, even if it is a .177.
        Sadly, it is not in the cards at this time. Neccesity dictated I buy two new major appliances last week.

        Before the maelstrom, I did happen to find a nice used HW97K in .20 at a good price.

        What is your inside distance? How many airguns have met your snarling dissapproval at your indoor range? Personally, I never use acid while testing airguns for safety reasons.

        (SECRET RECIPE FOR PELL-GUN OIL: Two parts sweet-and-sour sauce, one part worce stershire sauce.)

        • Slinging,

          Inside I am at about 13.5 yards. If a pellet has enough zip it will actually shoot to point of aim again at 42 yards,almost as if I planned it that way. Of course something in the R7 range will need a number of clicks for adjustment.

          As far as winners, all HW’s can always do this, FWB 124, RWS 40, both FX PCP’s. Losers – Benjamin Legacy SE – worst ever, BSA Lightning XL in .25 cal – would hit , but was not consistent, Sheridan blue streak, old Diana’s smooth bore. Webley Raider could not do it, but I would guess the Venom could with the better barrel. Many more tested, this is just off the to of my head. Keep in mind the effect of the acid used during these tests.

          Honestly, accuracy testing is really a bit boring once you find a rock solid process. (yes you need a pel-seat)

          B.B. did well however asking a questions to keep the masses occupied in his absence.

      • Pellgun oil is a 30W diesel rated (ironic isn’t it — very high detergency) engine oil (Monolec 30 GFS, if I remember correctly) according to Crosman’s own MSDS. Personally, I use whatever 30W is left over from the lawnmowers, but I’ve switched everything to 15W40 lately, so I might have to spend a couple of bucks in 2050 or so when my supply runs out :).

        • Bg Farmer,

          For me the pel gun oil is easier to come by since I haunt gun shops on a regular basis. Finally got around to replacing my old 870 that was also lost to the great sell off of 2009-2010. Funny story, bid on the wrong item on Gunbroker but ended up liking it. I will write it up one of these days. In the mean time I will try not to drink while on Gunbroker, may not turn out so good the next time.

    15. Wind has to be eliminated as a factor. Pellets are simply too susceptible to wind. A separate test that measures “wind sensitivity” might be useful, but you’d have to figure out some way to set up the wind. You are going to need a large testing facility :).

      • Assuming that the rifle is not being moved around by the wind, wind sensitivity is a function of pellet aerodynamics and, in second order, the orientation of the pellet when it leaves the muzzle.

        • Pete,
          Yes, you would think so, but it may not be that simple, at least for me. One of my .22 rifles can be just as accurate as my best one, when there is no wind. Add any noticeable wind, and it is much worse with the same ammo. I’ve read some speculations that this wind sensitivity can be a sign a barrel is shot out or sloppy, which would likely be the case there — I can account for a hundred thousand rounds or so, but my younger brothers may have run more through it while I was off at school without it:).

          In the case of using the BC to calculate wind, I’ve always wondered if there isn’t a separate BC for each wind angle.

          • BG_F,

            You’re making my case. Likely the reason that your ‘wind sensitive’ rifle is so sensitive is that the bullet/pellet doesn’t emerge with the spin axis parallel to the direction of motion. If the pellet is cocked just a little bit, you’ve got yourself a projectile that will have high sensitivity to the direction & velocity of a cross wind. You are likely seeing the Magnus effect in action. See Wikipedia’s article on the Flettner rotor ship (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotor_ship) for more info.

            The same effect causes curve balls in baseball.


            • as to ballistic coefficients, I’m sure the BC varies with the angle of the relative wind. It’s not a simple scalar number valid for all orientations. If the barrel is crappy, it’s likely that the bullet doesn’t fit well enough to come out straight.

              I follow some of the Olympic small-bore chit-chat on Target Talk. I don’t think any of those folks would shoot 100,000 rounds on a barrel and expect it to still be true and accurate.

              • That was sort of my point — it is accurate under some conditions; also, its a 35 year old rifle, so I cut it some slack :). Magnus effect is a good candidate for explanation.

    16. Since this apparently is working out to be a springer deal, I have some thoughts. First the trigger is important but a Rekord as could be argued, is no better than a properly set up T-05 or 6 Diana. For that matter,the gold replacement triggers (either flavor) for the Gamo and chi-com clones are as good as a Rekord as far as feel goes.Second, why not try a aperature front ,peep rear, and targets to match most closely the size of the aperature of the foresight in regards to the 25 yard distance? Then do the scope and compare.I do like the ten shot groups. You could buy a HW-50 or 30 and a Williams receiver sight for the same money or less, than a Diana or Gamo (with a gold trigger replacement) springer, and a quality scope and mounts that could be depended on to last . The HW would have the aperature front elements available too. Third, is wind and lighting conditions, and to me that would have to mean indoor testing, or a tunell. There would have to be no wind effects and controlled lighting. As was mentioned above, most do not have anything but indoor shooting available to them, because of local ordinances. I would venture to say that most of the airgun shooters who have airguns in north America, are shooting them in perference to firearms because they can shoot them indoors.

    17. B.B.,
      Are you saying that all competitive marksman are naive because they expect a VERY high degree of repeatable accuracy from their gun? Real world experience tells me that, it would be naive to think that you can consider yourself a true competitor and not expect a VERY high degree of repeatable accuracy from your gun. If you can’t expect at least that from your gun, then you’re not going to matches to win. Competitive marksman don’t spend a lot of money on their guns for no reason. Without that VERY high degree of repeatable accuracy, records are almost just luck. But we know that this isn’t the case. Great shooters hover near record scores before hitting it, and the real variable is almost always the shooter, and not the gun. George Stidworthy shot around 140 perfect 1600’s, which is why he is known as the “1600 King”. Many of his 3200’s were with close to 300 X’s. His Daughter followed in his tracks by becoming one of America’s greatest prone shooters, winning the Nationals at Camp Perry with a perfect 6400 shot over FOUR days. This is NOT luck. You can be sure that hardcore competitive marksmen expect a dropped point to be them, and not the rifle.

      • Victor,

        I think I inadvertently pulled your beard. Sorry about that.

        I do believe in superb repeatable accuracy, but I also know what it take to get there. It isn’t as easy as buying a new accurate gun, is it?

        I want those who now sit on the couch and kibbitz to face this question head-on and learn what it takes for themselves.


        • B.B.,

          No, I’m not bothered, just didn’t agree with your characterization. It takes a lot to really rattle my cage. Maybe the issue is that we’re approaching things from different perspectives, so the same language reads differently between some of us. I believe that the Anschutz 1413 that I used was very special. It was bought used, and vintage mid to late 60’s. I don’t know for sure. However, it was further “accurized” by the famous American gunsmith Karl Kenyon, including a re-crown, and a Kenyon trigger. That gun could shoot, and I did very well with it. BUT, I always knew that I could trust that rifles accuracy, and honestly believe that it was the equal of any rifle at that time. I actually felt that way about all of my guns, but especially that one particular rifle. Maybe it’s just good to believe like I did, but I honestly don’t believe that it was purely psychological.

          But I do understand what you’re saying, and in particular, how it applies to most people. I put a lot more time into my shooting that most can imagine. I damn near memorized the Army Marksmanship Training Units manual, and walked, talked, breathed, shooting at that time. I also believe that I competed in what I think of as the “Golden Age of Small-bore Shooting”. I shot side-by-side with some of the all-time greats. I not only competed with George and Mary (his daughter) Stidworthy in their home range, but I also got all of my Eley ammo directly from him, at his home. In any case, I’m actually still the same person in that I don’t get nervous or shaken very easily. Also, I do still have a very competitive nature and tend to face things head on. Unfortunately, my words tend to be dry, and can seem somewhat cold. However, I’m known for my BIG smile, so in person I don’t think that I come across the same as I do in writing.


    18. What is up with all the nay sayers? Did you not notice the title of this blog? ” The GREAT Accuracy Test: Part 1 ” Not the “so-so accuracy test”, or the “several standard deviations behind the mean accuracy test.” Pay attention.

      I can see it now, “The Great Accuracy Test: Part 294”

      BB is crazy like a fox.

    19. B.B.,

      The very interesting accuracy discussion brings me back to an earlier topic that Lloyd, Chuck and Slinging Lead were discussing: rifling in barrels.

      I would like to postulate a theory based on nothing more than gut feel (common sense?) founded on Sir Isaac Newton’s well proven theorem on equal and opposite reactions. My theory is this: Regardless of the type of rifling extant in a barrel, the energy lost to the pellet in acquiring its rotational speed will be the same. Would you agree?

      In a “smooth twist” barrel, the pellet is launched down a smooth barrel and only encounters the rifling near the end. This means it crashes into the rifling at a higher speed and must suffer some deformation and energy loss in overcoming inertia to begin spinning. My instinct tells me this is the worst design.

      In a “slow twist barrel” the pellet is slowly accelerated to its final rotation speed by an increasing ‘tightening’ of the spirals; again, it must lose energy proportionally all the way.

      In a “normal” rifled barrel, you experience a combination of both behaviors.

      I contend that ultimately the only difference that matters is whether one design helps to preserve the shape and stability of the pellet more than another, because velocity and energy will be impacted equally by all. Hence, only the difference in accuracy obtained from each of these designs would signify.

      Perhaps Jane or the physicists in our community can shoot holes in my theory…


      • I disagree. I am not really sure why I disagree, but I do. lol

        In questions like this I like to go to both extreme. Like a true smooth bore and a bore with a very aggressive twist. The smooth bore will not effect the energy as would a bore that has way too much twist. The rifling is resistance, friction, and it has to take more energy than no rifling. I think.

      • Slow or fast, normally rifled barrels have a constant twist rate through the barrel. Slow or fast is relative depending on the caliber and projectile. For example a 1:48″ twist barrel is slow for .50 cal. bullet, but fast for patched round ball. The velocity of the projectile also comes into play, as that in conjunction with the twist rate is what determines the projectile’s rate of rotation.

        I believe you are talking about progressive or gain-twist rifling. There is also a rifling variation that has shallower rifling at the breech and deeper at the muzzle.

      • AlanL

        A very interesting debate topic. Initially my thinking was that it was a cost-saving measure with marketing hype behind it. But FX has an outstanding reputation, I would bet they are unwilling to risk that with inferior technology.

        My thinking is that the smooth bore allows the pellet to gain maximum velocity before hitting the rifling. Once inside the rifling, the pellet still has pressure behind it, so it does not necessarily slow down. The deformation you speak of happens to all pellets shot from rifled barrels. This imparts the spin that stabilizes the pellet. Some day I will amas a vast some of riches and acquire an FX.

      • AlanL,

        You have not one theory but theories within a theory. First “My theory is this: Regardless of the type of rifling extant in a barrel, the energy lost to the pellet in acquiring its rotational speed will be the same. Would you agree?”

        Yes – I’d agree to the point, but I think it is insignificant. If you calculate the energy needed to cause a cylinder to rotate at one rotation in 18 inches, it is far less energy than it takes to get the cylinder moving at say 700 fps.

        To guess at what sort of rifling would be ideal is problematic. I think the point is more nebulous. First over what ranges do you want to shoot? If you’re shooting over 5 meters – do you need rifling to rotate a diabolo pellet at all? If you’re trying to shoot out to 80 yards, then the 1:18 twist may be too much.

        All in all questions about rifling are quirky. before you start discussing the merits of rifling I think you must define the range over which you wish to shoot and the expected muzzle velocity. Then you have to design the projectile and the twist rate to give you the best possible performance within those constraints.


        • Herb, BG_Farmer & Slinging Lead,

          Sorry, my computer crashed and I’m only now catching up. Herb, you were actually the guy I was thinking of as I was writing the question and couldn’t remember your name- it’s been so long since you last posted. I knew my “theories” were not very solid, and you raise a very interesting additional consideration- that the intended range affects (or should affect) your choice of twist rate. Your implication was, if I understood you correctly, that for longer ranges you would favor a slower rate of rotation?


    20. I agree with BEnoch. I look to always test the gun, not myself. I know I am a huge source of variation, but understanding how much variation the hardware brings to the mix is more important and easier to test. I don’t like “accuracy” as a term, since we all seem to be really talking about “precision”. Precision (maybe called repeatability) of the weapon is what we are testing when we bench or bag our hardware, shoot short distances with high power scopes. We cover our groups with a dime even though they are not in the center of the bullseye. That is precision, not accuracy.

      Shooting in real world scenarios does not test the hardware. Shooting outdoors, in a crosswind, with open sights, at a moving target in low light is fun, but does not provide any information about how well or poorly the hardware is operating.

      Without that information, everything else is just fluffernutter. Always amuses me when guns are shipped from a seller direct to a tuner. Buyer is willing to spend time and money to fix problems that may not actually exist. Without knowing the capacity of the hardware, changes are just a shot in the dark, over a hedge, at a target you think is on the other side.

      • Great point Kris… repeatablility, or the ability of the gun (held in some theoretical and immovable state) to plow one pellet after another into the same hole with the same pellet weight and brand and head dia. of pellet, and with all other conditions being repeatable such as wind, air temp, etc etc.

        The perfect lab results of the gun’s capability and repeatability.

        Now, enter the shooter..!

    21. A number of points for clarification come to mind.

      (1) Although “accuracy” is the typical term used in shooting, the better statistical term would be “precision.” In statistics, accuracy would measure the deviation between the POA and the POI. Precision would measure the dispersion around the average POI.

      (2) Although the RWS 34 seems to be a good platform, all 34’s were not created equal. Besides different calibers, there were versions produced with Chinese barrels that have 12 lands as opposed to the 8 land German barrels. The scuttlebutt on the yellow has the 12 land Chinese barrels as being more pellet fussy. (Unfortunately my RWS 34 has the Chinese barrel. πŸ™ )

      The new TO-6 trigger is also another mechanical variation.

      (3) There should also be some consensus as to what is the objective of testing. To paint a broad stoke, are we trying to determine the limiting errors due to the shooter (which includes technique), the rifle, or the pellets? Different tests would be required for each.

      For instance given my shaky hands, I’m sure that some of the other forum members could shoot better with my rifle.

      Imagine a test where we have 10 different shooters for the same rifle and pellets, or 1 shooter with 10 different RWS 34s using the same type of pellets. We could also have 1 shooter, 1 RWS 34 and 10 different kinds of pellets.

      (4) Using group size to determine precision is a typical but crude data analysis strategy. It would be much more sensitive to measure the X-Y deflection of each shot and use the RMS error.

      If you wanted to test for flyers, I’d think that using the RMS error would be essential. Flyers are essentially a second relatively infrequent error source. Think of an average of 1 flyer per 10 shots. That doesn’t mean that you’d get 1 flyer in each 10 shots. Some 10 shot strings would have none, some 1, some 2 and so on.

      (5) Multivariate testing is possible although typically one thing is varied at a time. Typically multivariate tests are used to whittle the number of factors that must be evaluated critically.

      (6) All of this is also dependent on the confidence interval that is desired. Say we have two different pellets that we are testing. In trying to determine which pellet is “better,” how much “better” makes a difference? In other words do we want to test for a 50% difference, or a 5% difference or a 0.5% difference? In general the smaller difference, the large the sample size needed (more shooting).

      Also since there are going to be multiple error sources, any error source that contributes less than 1/3 of the overall error isn’t limiting. In other words let’s say that the shooter, the rifle and the pellets all contribute the same amount of error to the group size. Now I buy some “perfect” pellets which contribute no error. The overall group size isn’t going to decrease drastically since the shooter and the rifle are still significant error sources. So going back to the original trio of errors, improvements are needed on multiple factors to make a dramatic overall improvement.

      (7) Lastly the overall error is the only thing that can be truly measured. You get to a point where for a given shooter using a particular rifle with a particular type of pellet the precision is X. This combination becomes the “gold standard.” At that point you can’t really partition the error into the error due to the shooter, the error due to the rifle, and the error due to the pellets. All you can really do is measure relative difference to the gold standard.

      This is sort of a subtle distinction. Let’s say that I’m getting 0.5 inch groups with Hobby pellets but Gamo hunters give me 1.1 inches. I can’t really measure the absolute error of the Gamo pellets since I don’t know how much the shooter and the rifle contribute to the 0.5 inch group size with the Hobby pellets. So all I can say is that using Gamo Hunter pellets adds an extra 0.6 inches relative to the group size of the “gold standard.”

      • A good shooting platform is a must, to start with. It doesn’t have to be super high-end, but it should have a good, relatively light trigger, not be very hold sensitive, and known for good accuracy, even if just by reputation. Such a rifle can be tested for “precision”.

        But remember what B.B. is trying to achieve here. He wants to demonstrate what kinds of things actually contribute to accuracy in a meaningful way. He has suggested several things and practices that people believe matter. Once we get an acceptable shooting platform, then we can observe and analyze his test results with all of these various attempts to extract the most accuracy from a particular rifle.

        One question that I might have is, what things might be required in combination? For example, if you clean your pellets, does that mean that you have to lube them, or, if you plan on lubing them, was it best to have first cleaned them?

    22. I’m going out on a limb AND jumping up and down…….I believe that despite all the “sticking points”
      offered up so far….We all stand to gain some knowledge both from our own results and the cumulative total of all results.There,I said it.
      There are acceptable ways around many of these obstacles,(please notice I said acceptable).If you only have 10 yards to safely and conveniently shoot,we can offer a multiplier to equate your results
      to the standard.Wind can be within a determined velocity window.What difference does the trigger make if you perform the tests without changing it??? Aren’t we after the resulting change in a 10 shot group when one factor is changed?
      I guess what I am suggesting is that we aren’t launching anything into orbit…..just some real world testing to quantify the results on accuracy of a handful of changes.This is why I am suggesting that
      the results should be expressed as a percent of the baseline group.Whether you have a $200 airgun or a $2,000 gun shouldn’t really matter IMHO

      • Agreed, all the “sticking points” can be overcome or allowed for.

        No problem creating a “baseline” or “gold standard” as I put it. Shoot 10 pellets in a target and you have a baseline – of sorts anyway…

        So I shoot a group and my group size is 1.0 inches.

        The idea with the scientific method is that you form a null hypothesis, eg weighing pellets improves the precision with which I can shoot. You create a baseline, then you test and see what happens.

        So I weight my pellets and shoot again. Now my new group size is 1.2 inches for 10 shots. Are the results “better” or “worse” or “inconclusive”?

        Without an adequate experiment design, the true result is probably “inconclusive.” The whole point of using statistics is to fight our “gut expectation” and keep our results honest. The real truth in this is that a good statistical experimental design is probably more work than most of us want to do.

        Let’s say that my group size with the weighed pellets was 0.90 inches. Is that really “better than” 1.0 inches? The question here isn’t if 0.90 is smaller than 1.0 inches, the question is really “Given one ten shot group of 1.0 inches and one ten shot group of 0.90 inches, is the 0.90 group size statistically significantly different than 1.0 inches at the 95% confidence level?” The answer to that question is NO.

        All sorts of things can be a factor in shooting precision. Take canting for example. Given the same rifle and the same pellets, I may have a problem with canting and you don’t. The two questions (1)”Can canting make a difference?”, and (2) “Do I have a canting problem which is limiting my precision?” are two very different questions.

        So the question to define “The great accuracy test: Part 1” is really “What is the baseline?” BB set that up as the group size for a string of 10 shots. Not the best baseline, but surely better than using a 3 shot group.

        Now how you use that baseline depends on what you want to test next.


        • Exactly. In a drag race, the average driver (me) would get in the dragster and with some racing aptitude, hall-a$$ to the finish line. Do this 3 times, and my E.T. average would be my baseline, regardless of skill.

          Now, put John Force or his beautiful daughter behind the wheel of the exact same car, and their E.T. is half of my time. How did Force beat my E.T. by half? Skill, precise body mechanics, mental state (ha ha) experience, better shoes, and on and on. Did he extract the very highest performance out of the car compared to my driving? Yes. So, what is the car actually capable of? Certainly more than I am capable of getting out of it but, is it even better or more capable (as a machine) than Mr. Force can wring out of it?

          I think the baseline issue is THE key issue issue in this pursuit of accuracy/repeatability in any one gun. That baseline could be shooters such as Mac, BB or Two Talon’s very best efforts with a specific gun and a known set of variables. It is (or will be) what it is, .20″ CTC, .30″ CTC or whatever, but a baseline nonetheless. Otherwise, we are just 40 (?) odd shooters, shooting 20 different guns with 10 different pellets in a broad set of conditions. Am I right or am I …???

          • I think to sum up the intent of B.B.’s test is this…
            Select a good rifle and the ammo it likes. Do not select something super accurate or a pig. It would be difficult or impossible to see any results from fooling around with the pellets. A difference in pellet preperation would not make a hoot on the target.
            Then shoot enough times to get typical groups to see how different preperation affects the outcome.

            As I said in my first post for today…the results will probably be a mixed bag.

            There are also wild cards…
            Barrel cleaning and lube. Can take quite a few shots to get things stabilized after doing either. Otherwise you screw up the stability of the test and might as well start over.

            By the way, I can shoot SOME of my rifles good only when I am “smooth” and in a good comfortable position. I can’t do crap if I try to shoot standing in a brush pile and wrapped around a tree in an attempt to do a vertical shot on a tree rat.


    23. One of the factors we could test is trigger hand thumb position.There is the wrapped around position,the centered on the rear of the action position,and the thumb off or along side position.

      • Frank B,
        That would be very particular to the gun being tested. If you have a heavy trigger, then hand placement is critical in order to gain control over the trigger squeeze. For springers, it’s usually best that the trigger hand hold, rest hand hold, and shouldering be as light as possible, unless the trigger is heavy. And as we know, some guns are more hold sensitive than others. The Gamo CFX is not as hold sensitive as others, so I think would make a good test rifle.

        • Yes,Victor…..I have noticed that with the couple of springers I have.I just thought seeing that as a result,would have some probative value for other readers.I will suggest one more “test”,then I give up.
          I’m really trying to focus on being positive here.I was going to suggest before and after groups for cleaning and polishing the bore.The best illustration of this I have ever seen was the EDGUN shooter on Youtube.He was getting an occasional flyer that spiralled.His film was shot w/ a highspeed camera,so slo-mo was possible.But,alas……there are several reasons why that won’t be acceptable.
          I’m off to shoot some Red Ryder groups…..for the pure pleasure of it.

          • Frank B,
            Funny! I’ve taken my Crosman 760 smooth-bore out for “accuracy” testing with BB’s, at 33 feet. Can you say “lucky to hit anything”? I was shooting a life-size target of a pigeon, and the spread was from head to claw. That same rifle will shoot sub-inch groups with pellets at the same distance.

            Yeah, on the positive side of things, I think that what B.B., Mac, and a couple others have done for us, is shown us was we could realistically expect from a gun, accuracy-wise, if we really took the time to learn how to shoot (especially springer’s), like they have. Those results are “real-world”, but in my experience, aren’t always the absolute best that can be done with a rifle that you only have for a short time, as is often the case with the loaners that B.B. gets from PA. In my experience, it takes a relative long time for me to fully master a particular gun. However, I think I might be slower than most, but at least I’ll give it an honest try. The average air-gun customer doesn’t have the same expectations that a lot of us here do, so they aren’t so picky. They are happy with “accurate enough” (for targets of some size, and at some distance).


            • Speaking of BB/pellet guns…
              I have a Daisy pumper that shot very poorly with anything when I first got it. I planted a big garden with a lot of tomato plants of different kinds. The weather here can really destroy the crop, so growing a lot can help make sure you have enough.
              Anyway…lots of plants= lots of tomato hornworms. I shot a lot of bbs on them and the Daisy progressively shot better. It got to the point that it was shooting pretty darned good for what it was with BB or pellet. I will not venture a guess as to why this happened, but it did.


              • Hmm……….it kind of sounds like you got better, not the gun. I remember one summer when I was young, things were slow at home so I spent a lot of time shooting a Marksman BB pistol. At first I didn’t do very well with it but by the end of summer, hits were easy. I learned where the gun shot and became familiar with the long trigger pull. Some of my friends tried the gun but couldn’t hit anything with it. So, correct practice helps.


    24. David Enoch has the basic foundations right, and I agree that wind can NOT be a contributing factor to inaccuracy. Even a moderately accurate rifle will contribute a small fraction of the overall error (probably as little as 5%), IF wind is factored into the equation. If shot outdoors, then it MUST be done under very calm conditions.

    25. With BB on the road, I can only ask at large…what is the point of this test again?

      The inherent variation within any ONE shooter + one gun + one ammo + variable shooting conditions would fill many blog reports. Are we going to do this testing en masse and somehow collect and correlate the results in a meaningful way? Not sure how my 20 meter targets shot w/ my HW97K w/ Superdomes has any direct correlation to anyone else’s data/testing with totally different guns, conditions etc?

      • Brian,

        When Mac shot a ten-shot group with three specific groups within, I asked him, what if he only shot the tight pellets at the target and blew off the others. Would the final group have looked different?

        Does washing pellets affect accuracy?

        These questions and dozens of others are the ones I want to see explored.


    26. I guess I’m with Brian in Idaho in that I don’t believe I quite understand the design or purpose of this test. Are the readers going to run this test and send in their results? Is B.B. going to do the test with guns and conditions that we recommend? In either case, I think the rationale of coming up with a standard of accuracy for a multiplicity of situations is somewhat at cross-purposes. I think on the blog we’re pretty conversant with most of the major factors affecting accuracy like the ones B.B. listed. I don’t know that any one procedure is going to get us to a universal standard of accuracy that will apply to the individual situations that one is likely to find. If we’re just trying out the various factors–like cleaning the barrel–that’s what the blog has been doing. It can’t be surpassed! If readers are going to run the test that just seems to introduce more variables.

      However, I do think that any inquiry into the nature of accuracy is valuable. And to that end, I’m wondering if anyone can explain the statement that appears in various forms like, “The gun is more accurate than I am.” and “The gun allows me to know that it is me and not the gun.”? A shooter’s skill will always affect shot placement regardless of how accurate the gun is, so what does this mean?


      • Matt61,
        In short, if the shooter is capable of shooting X’s 99% of the time, and 10’s 100%, but a shot is a 9, then it is NOT the case that “The gun is more accurate than I am.” nor that β€œThe gun allows me to know that it is me and not the gun”. If you are a competitor, you’ll eventually know that you need to move up in guns, because if the problem is the gun, you’ll never know the experience of winning, even if (or especially if) on average you’re pretty good.

    27. Matt,

      RE: β€œThe gun is more accurate than I am.”

      As I’m sure you’re aware, the statement simply means that the gun contributes much less error overall than the shooter. For a PCP you could strap the gun in a sled and use mechanical adjustments to slew the POA over 10 bulls. Take gun out of the sled ans shoot it off hand at 10 bulls. The expectation is that the RMS error in the sled is much better than the RMS error off hand.

      Assuming that the RMS error in the sled is less than about 1/3 of the RMS error off hand, then better equipment isn’t going to help much. You point is absolutely correct that this definition is nebulous.

      “Isn’t going to help much” is not a well defined hypothesis. For me trying to whack a squirrel, it means that once in a million times that it is a equipment problem. For an Olympic shooter who just lost by one point, it probably means that with better equipment that he might have won.


    28. Matt61,
      The meanings behind statements like, β€œThe gun is more accurate than I am.” and β€œThe gun allows me to know that it is me and not the gun”, are that a missed shot could only be caused by the shooter because the gun has been prov-en to perform at some expected level. If I’m shooting Eley Tenex on an Anschutz rifle at 50 yards, in light wind, and I’m shooting at worse my average, I don’t expect a single shot to land outside of the 10 ring, and expect almost all shots (at least 18 out of 20) within the X ring. Under those same conditions, If I’m shooting a lessor rifle, then a 9 could only be explained by that rifles inaccuracy (and I’ll never use it in competition because it’s accuracy is not reliable). However, on a bad day, I might drop a point, and trust me, I’ll know that I’m having a bad day, because that won’t be the only shot that is out of character. Now, if I pass my rifle over to someone who is say, a Marksman or Sharpshooter (maybe even an Expert), then that person can definitely say that “The gun is more accurate than I am”, after he, or she, drops a point that I wouldn’t.

      I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the 50 foot equivalent of the ISU 50 meter targets, but the bulls-eye is even smaller than on a 10 meter ISU air-rifle target. It’s smaller than a dot from a fine point pen. I wouldn’t shoot a rifle that can’t punch that dot out 100% of the time. Show me a rifle that can’t do that 100% of the time, and I’ll show you a rifle that does NOT “allows me to know that it is me and not the gun” (at least not on a bad day).

      I know, absolutely, when a “gun allows me to know that it is me and not the gun”. That gun doesn’t surprise me with flyer’s that can’t be explained. πŸ™‚

    29. Airgun related along with move bunk…
      This guy is in a boat shooting at Dinoshark with a scoped high powered rifle. Strangely enough, it is clearly a break barrel air rifle. Type unknown. The stock is slab sided with several grooves lengthways on the forearm. Loked like shallow v grooves cut with a router.


    30. Thinking out loud …

      In my mind, when discussing gun performance, accuracy is synonymous with precision. There’s no difference. The first thing I expect is an accurate barrel. Then I expect a good light trigger. Finally, I expect good ergonomics. The shooter does NOT define accuracy/precision of a gun. A particular shooter can only show how well (or not) they can perform with a particular gun.

      To get a solid measure of a guns potential, you either have the gun bench-rested, or you let an excellent shooter test it. A mediocre shooter cannot determine a guns accuracy, and so may end up in a situation where he/she will have to admit that “The gun is more accurate than I am”.

      If you are shooting a low to mid-range air-gun, say under $400, then you likely won’t have the best barrel, trigger, or ergonomic stock, but that doesn’t mean that the gun is bad. However, if that gun is tested by an excellent shot, and it’s of good quality in those 3 areas, then I believe that this gun will produce good results (say dime to quarter size groups at 25 yards).

      Regarding meaningful metrics. I don’t agree with most that firing 10 shots, and taking the worse case center-to-center error is the best way to characterize a guns accuracy. I’ve seen lots of 10 shot groups where only 1 or 2 shots were outside of a very tight 8 shot group. Statistically, those shots might actually represent outliers, and furthermore reflect relatively significant shooter error. In addition to this, when I see those outliers, I either attribute them to the shooter, or the pellet, but not the barrel, or gun-system. Mac has been pretty good about calling his flyer’s, giving us a heads up as to how much weight we’d like to place on those flyer’s before judging the guns accuracy.

      I really don’t think that defining a guns accuracy (precision) is all that hard. What is hard is judging how well the gun can be shot. Some guns are harder to shoot well than others, even if they had the exact same barrel. So maybe this brings up a second type of “accuracy” which is defined in terms of how well the gun can do, qualifying this performance in terms of shoot-ability because of things like trigger (good or bad), ergonomics (good or bad), and hold sensitivity (good or bad). Some guns might have extremely accurate barrels, but are just very hard to shoot, for whatever reason. In the end, the most obvious metric that we can apply is the c-t-c error, because it very likely represents what most of us might be able to achieve, because of the whole system, and not just barrel accuracy.

      However, even a difficult gun can be mastered, but that can takes weeks, and even months (in my case). So it’s possible that someone else might provide a better representation of a particular guns potential. Taking this thought into consideration, what we really see here is how well B.B., Mac, and a couple others are able to shoot a particular gun. Some of us might do as well, and some of us probably won’t.


    31. Heading to the airgun show in Findlay, OH this Saturday–anybody from here going? Hoping to find a foot or two of (Anschutz size) forend accessory rail for a project and maybe some interesting vintage stuff.

      • Which way are you coming through? I should go myself, but if weather permits I have a project that has been on hold.
        Findlay is less than an hour from here. Have enough irons in the fire that I don’t need to add to the heap.


    32. Accuracy (or better, ‘precision’, or even better, ‘dispersion’) is properly measured in minutes of arc, not center-to-center grouping measured in inches. To a good approximation over 10 or even 25 yards pellets follow straight lines, so a gun with a (let’s say) 2 arc-minute error will show 2 minutes error at any distance. You can translate that into horizontal and vertical dispersion with a slide rule or calculator. This would not be true if the shooter were not dead accurate or if there is a wind or some other non-linear effect. So long as the measurements are done well on a paper target (or a home electronic system such as a Scatt), it really doesn’t matter what range you pick.

      What to measure? The standard figure of merit for guided missiles and such is the circular error probable. That is the radius within which 50% of the shots have their centers, counting from the “average” impact point — meaning the center of the distribution. That is a lot more consistent than using maximum c-t-c because the effects of fliers are automatically taken into account. I think this is the same thing Victor was writing about a few posts up.

      I would like to know if any of the witchcraft such as lubricating (or not), sorting by weight (or not), sorting by head diameter (or not) make any difference in the performance of my gun. I would also like to learn if it is *really* true that among top-end pellets some guns really like some pellets better than others. And if so, how much does it vary from lot to lot? Will my LP-10 “like” R-10-rifle better than other pellets forever, or is that a consequence of having shot a lousy tin of Finale Match and a good tin of R-10s? To answer any of these questions I have to take everything out of the equation except the one thing I vary.

      I have no doubt that cheap pellets have higher dispersion than match-grade pellets. But I do want to know whether there is much difference at the top end. You would think that competition, whether field target or 10 meter, would keep the makers scrambling to make sure that the other brand doesn’t steal a march.

      I’m with Victor. At the very top of the competition leagues, the guns and pellets are the limiting factor. There was talk about just that on Target Talk recently too. And if it were not so, then Emmons and Uptagrafft and all the rest of our national and Olympic champions would not spend so much time and energy (and money) testing ammunition, testing barrels, and testing actions.

      Gotta go and pull a few triggers.


      • Pete Z wrote:
        …I would like to know if any of the witchcraft such as lubricating (or not), sorting by weight (or not), sorting by head diameter (or not) make any difference in the performance of my gun. …

        I would like to know about procedures. With a spring gun,

        — seat pellets flush?
        — seat pellets into the barrel to a uniform depth?
        — always smooth skirts with a pellseat?
        — begin each test with a cleaning using JBs?
        — begin each test with 1 – N fouling shots with the new pellet to be tested?
        — begin each test with a minimal uniform lubrication of the compression chamber?

        I want to know if these procedures do anything except soothe the fussiness gene. Assuming they have some measurable effect (50,000 coyotes can’t be wrong), it seems to me that with uniform procedures established we can do individual experiments with the witchcraft ploys and different pellets; and establish a set of precision curves by rifle model.

        • Re: “make ANY difference in the performance of my gun. …”

          The emphasis on “any” is mine.

          Trying to define ANY is the significant consideration. Do you want to determine a 50% difference? Factor of 10 different? A 0.01% difference?

          For instance if I’m buying gold to vacuum deposit on computer chips the difference between “pure” gold and 99.99% gold is enormous. It would also matter greatly as to what the impurity was.

          A 0.01% difference in performance between two different types of pellets would be extremely hard to measure by shooting.

          So the question isn’t really IF any of these factors cause differences, the question is more properly asked as “Does factor A cause a detectable difference of at least X% at the Y confidence level?” You then design the experiment to test for the limits of X and Y for which you are interested.

      • Pete zimmerman,
        No kidding about equipment. Spend some time with Eric Uptagrafft, and you’ll see how much emphasis he has placed on things like barrels, actions, bloop tubes (sight extenders), etc. Also, most of his training is with his SCATT system. He knows that he’s got the best equipment that money can buy, or that he can design for himself (which he does – he’s an aerospace engineer), so he is able to focus on HIS performance. He’s also a representative for Eley, so he’s well taken care of in the ammunition department.

    33. Great idea, sounds like fun, too many variables. Pick one gun. Pick one distance. No wind. Pick ten(or whatever) quality pellets to use. Use a scope. Bench rest. Artillery hold. Use a springer. ( PCP’s, Co2, and pump ups are too easy). If you don’t own the gun chosen it will give you a good excuse to get a new gun. The 34 sounds good to me(I have always wanted one). Just my opinion. Toby

      • PCPs and all that are *not* too easy. The point is to take the shooter out of the situation and isolate just the changes in pellet that matter (or don’t). This is not a contest to see who’s the best shot; if it were, I think Victor wins hands down. Springers are too hold sensitive! (Assuming we’re not talking about an FWB 300S in top-notch condition)

      • Toby T, Pete Z,
        I don’t think that I would win with some guns. Some of the shooting that B.B. and Mac have demonstrated with springer’s is pretty impressive. I’m getting there, but it REALLY takes a lot of work. Also, I believe that shooting springer’s has taught me a lot. If there is one thing that I benefit from, it is the fact that I am not impatient with either myself, or my guns, so I don’t give up easily. Giving up for me, means taking a break so that I can come back with a clear and open mindset.

        In any case, I agree with Pete that we need to take the shooter out of this. In the case of air-guns, and for our community, this means trying to level the playing field, not for comparison between shooters, but to reduce some variables that make shooting certain guns more difficult than others. This is why I believe that a good platform (gun) is one with a good trigger, accurate barrel, decent ergonomics, and not super hold sensitive. I believe that among my air rifles, my Gamo CFX qualifies. I don’t have any experience with the RWS 34, but I’m sure it does also.

        Remember, once we choose a platform, the goal is to prove, or disprove, what is myth and what is real, regarding various approaches used to extract some amount of improvement in most guns.


    34. I’m just catching up on all the comments… looks like this topic generated a lot of interest!

      In the meantime, I wanted to post something off topic that I ran across. Here is a live video feed of a bald eagle’s nest with 3 babies:


      There are some FAQ’s right under the video that detail things like the nest location and size. Scroll down a little further for archived clips of the eggs actually hatching. This is way better than the Reality TV drivel on these days.

      The stuff in the foreground of the nest is food that has been brought back for the babies. On the left is some kind of black bird remains and that silvery thing in the center is part of a fish that is still being ripped into pieces for the little ones (just brought in a couple of hours ago). It’s really cool to watch them being fed.

      Click on the black box in the lower right hand corner of the video window to go to full-screen. Totally addicting watching nature in real-time action.

      – Orin

    35. Wow, a lot of interest in this – almost too much to read tonight . . .

      Lots of good comments, but I would like to weigh in on the topic of measuring accuracy, or as has been pointed out, better put as precision.

      While ten shot groups are clearly better than five shot groups, if one wants to really measure precision or accuracy, then “group size” really is a poor surrogate. This is because a ten shot group in a fairly accurate shooting system (gun, pellet, shooter) will tend to yield a large “one holer” pattern. This then tells us nothing about the distribution of the shots, only the extreme results. Wulfraed’s post above speaks to this.

      While clearly more work, the best way to truly analyze this is by shooting a given number of shots (lets say 10, but more is clearly better) at the same number of individual POA targets. This then lets us measure each one and compile a true picture of all the POIs relative to POA.

      While it sounds painful, it is not that bad on an occasional basis. I have done one such test when I “baselined” my Marauder with Baracuda pellets. As an experiment, I took 50 shots after tuning the gun for fairly high power (~30 ft lbs) on a fill from 3200psi down to about 1800 psi. Each was shot over a Chrony, and each to a unique POA on an 8.5 x 11 paper with a backer. So fer every shot I know the shot number, the fps, and the POI. I then measured the POI to the nearest mm (I know – not great, but I was new to this and in a hurry) and plugged these into a spreadsheet. It allowed me to accurately analyze the results, plot all the POIs on a grid, and truly understand which were really flyers (not as many as I would have thought). But most importantly, for a study in precision, it allowed me to graph my probability of of hitting within a given radius from my POA once the scope was truly aligned for the distance. Ok, so it was painful . . . .

      It clearly showed me that I need a more stable bench setup to really get things right, but it was invaluable as a learning exercise. I am going to get an MTM rest, upgrade to Baracuda Match 5.53 head size pellets, and try it again someday. But it really is right up the ally of this experiment from a methodology standpoint.

      Alan in MI

      • Alan,

        RE: RMS Error vs Group size

        Totally agree that RMS error is a better measure. I really think that in general it is a situation where you have a choice between shooting more or analyzing more. Pick your poison.

        However there are always exceptions. If you are trying to test to good pellets, the RMS error would be the technique to use. However if you’re testing for instance the Mendoza Solid Skirt pellets (which I’d predict would be worse than terrible) then you don’t need a very sensitive test to determine that those pellets are poor performers.

        So to sum it up there are certain things one must consider in designing a statistically valid test.

        (1) How well do I want to measure the “benchmark?”

        (2) How carefully do I want to avoid a Type I error?

        (3) How carefully do I want to avoid a Type II error?

        (4) How well do I want to characterize the difference between the benchmark and the new condition being tested?

        See Wikipedia for discussion on Type I and Type II errors…

        Think of it this simple test as outlined above. I’m testing two pellets and I want to know which one is better. I can not ever PROVE that one pellet is better than the other. I can only infer with a high degree of probability that one pellet is better than the other. I can raise the bar as high as desired. 50% probability, 90% probability, 95% probability, 99% probability and so on. But I can never be absolutely 100% certain.

        So before you start testing you should decide on the desired confidence interval.

        RE: Flyers

        Victor and Pete Zimmerman raised the factor of flyers. I would stipulate that this is why group size is a poor measure. Group size is overly sensitive to flyers.

        So before you start testing two different kinds of pellets you should decide what you are going to do about flyers. Are you just going to ignore that flyers exist, or would you be willing to try to mitigate flyers by other strategies such as weighing/sizing? Of course to determine if weighing/sizing are effective strategies then estimates are needed for group size without flyers and the percentage of flyers with and without the mitigation strategies.

        So as I said before, a sound statistical design is a considerable amount of work. You generally can’t just go to the range and shoot two different 10 shot groups to compare pellet types A and B and conclude voila – Pellet A is better than pellet B!

    36. I know the RWS 34 has been chosen already but I had a different idea. How about a really cheap airgun like the daisy powerline 880 or 901. I think they’re pretty much the same. The reason i suggest these is they will group about an inch or maybe a little over that at 25 yds and with a huge range of pellets. This seems perfect because the groups aren’t so tight you can’t improve but they aren’t so big that it seems hopeless. They are multi-pumps so that adds another variable and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Another reason these are perfect is because everyone, even someone new to the sport and doesn’t want to spend much money, can participate because you can buy an 880 at walmart for no more than about 60 $. Add a decent 4×32 leapers scope and its the perfect gun for the job in my opinion. This gun was brought to my mind yesterday because I dusted off my old 901 and just shot some groups with it. Every time a 10 shot group would be about 1 1/4 inches at 25 yards.

    37. For this Great Accuracy Test, with the parameters we’ve discussed so far, and since we are beyond the 10m competition range, we are talking about hunting or field target conditions. It has been noted on this blog that a 1.5″ group is what’s needed to humanely hunt small critters.

      So, why don’t we make a list of rifles that we know can produce a 2″ or smaller five shot group at 25yds and then experiment with them to see how we can get them as close as possible to 1/4″ and what we need to do to achieve it?

      This would make rifle powerplant types and shooting techniques a moot point since we all probably own at least one rifle we can and have shot within this limit. I think this would make the effort less complicated, be measurable, and include a wider number of participants.

      At the same time we will be identifying rifles that are best suited for hunting and whether we, ourselves, are good enough shots to be hunters.


        • twotalon,
          Remember this one?


          How accurate do you want to be?
          The second factor to consider is accuracy. How close to the aim point will you hit? I don’t mean what’s the best group you ever shot. I mean, what can you do right now from an awkward shooting position? The kill zone for most airgun quarry is 1.5″ OR LESS. For head shots on squirrels, it’s half that AND NO MORE! So you have to figure out WHAT you are shooting and HOW the shot will be made (head shot/heart shot). Then ask – Can I make this shot? If you can’t, don’t shoot.

          END QUOTE


        • Twotalon,
          Or perhaps this one:

          3. Accuracy
          Hollowpoint pellets perform differently from one gun to another. If a certain hollowpoint groups inside an inch at 25 yards, then that is the MAXIMUM range for that pellet in your rifle when used to hunt an animal with a kill zone that size. That or less is about the size of most of your targets when hunting airgun game. Some larger game animals (raccoons, woodchucks, etc.) may have a zone measuring 1.5″, but that’s about the maximum.
          END QUOTE

    38. We talk about wind being removed from the test… But we’re after accuracy… If you shoot varmints at 25 yards in TX then you need to have an accurate pellet with 5-10 mph winds.

      So… accuracy depends on your situation. A HP pellet will perform worse than a dome or pointed with the slightest wind. So why bother shooting an HP if you want ultimate accuracy?

    39. I noticed that a lot of folks commenting on the blog seem to be focusing too much on the equipment, in my opinion…. claiming that the test should be done indoors, so wind is not a factor… put rifles in vises and such. I’m more interested in how to make the whole ‘system’ accurate; meaning not just the rifle, but techniques and ideas on how the shooter and the rifle can ‘work together’ to achieve higher accuracy…. personally – when I think of the word accuracy: I think of two things – precision (if I was to take a single shot at a target – can I hit the center of the bulls eye with that single, and only shot?)…. and repeatability (Do I and the rifle have the consistency to be able reliably hit that center bulls eye, each and every time?). The real question is: what is considered an appropriate measure of precision… 10m Olympic target shooters shoot within thousands of an inch of a bulls eye, while plinkers are happy if they can knock down a tin can… both people consider themselves ‘accurate’ because they can achieve their goal, and can do so consistently…. I would actually like to see – an examination on precision/consistency, in the shooter — take the equipment out of the equation.. so to speak. What can *I* do to become a better, and more ‘accurate’ shooter? to me, that’s the question. πŸ™‚

      • Karsten,

        Thank you for responding as I had asked, rather than attacking the entire proposition.

        Okay, testing out of the wind is possible for short range, but I don’t have access to a 50-yard enclosed range.

        Vises don’t work. How do you cock an underlever in a vise?

        Yes, everyone’s definition of accuracy is going to be different, but if we stick with the same platform throughout the test, we will see results, if they are there. If a Diana 34 groups an average of 10 shots in 0.526″ at 30 yards with pellets taken straight from the tin, but shrinks to an average of 0.245″ with weight-sorted pellets under the same conditions, we have a positive result we can use.

        Do you agree?


    40. Dear B.B.,
      I would never never attack — especially something I think that has merit. My point is that everyone’s definition of ‘accuracy’ is going to be as varied as the people that answer the question. And – the reason why I mention taking the ‘equipment out of the equation’ is that; in my short time as an air rifleist – I’ve some people take a cheap, air gun that you would swear was incapable of hitting a target point blank, much less 10 or 20 meters…. and make incredibly precise and consistent shots. When it comes to accuracy – it’s not just the equipment…. but, how well the shooter knows the equipment…. that gets back to such things as marksmanship basics, experimenting with different holds on the rifle, and just plain spending loads of time on the range. Also – something I notice is that if I shoot at the same kind of target all the time, say a standard GAMO cardboard bulls eye target — a shooter can, basically, ‘memorize’ the target…. before long, shooting 9’s and 10’s become very easy… However… after shooting 9’s and 10’s on that bulls eye target, take that same person and rifle – and have them shoot at a International Field Position Association target — then, things can change dramatically. That is exactly where I am at now… πŸ™‚

      I don’t own or use competition rifles – and, am unsure as to whether I will or not. I own 2 rifles – a Crosman Storm XT, in .177; and a Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100, in .22. Now – with those ‘consumer grade’ rifles – I’ve been practicing on any, and all kinds of targets I can get a hold of. Bulls eye targets, IFPA targets, Olympic 10m targets…. well – you get the idea. I have quickly found that – yes, each rifle has their own shooting characteristics and habits… but – to fire at a target with precision and consistency – is really up to ME. Yes – there are certain rifles that are more prone to giving the shooter that extra ‘edge’… and maybe, washing and lubing pellets help folks – even if subliminally. But – the main determining factor as to whether I’m going to hit a 10 or a 5, I find, is to not so much as the equipment… but, the way I handle that equipment. πŸ™‚

      • Karsten,

        You are correct when you say knowing the gun is part of the accuracy equation. But I will never be able to do that, because I test so many guns all the time. So I’m interested in what make the dramatic differences in accuracy, and seeing if they are universal, across all airguns.


    41. BB,

      Some disclaimers here first. My accuracy testing is almost always 5 shot groups. Ten shot groups will be larger!

      Second, if testing a gun for potential accuracy I want a good solid bench rest and shooting indoors. Which effectively limits me to 25 yards maximum in this location.

      Cost of the gun can be a factor, but I have some inexpensive ones shoot really well and some more expensive ones shoot not as well. Case in point a Titan GP which was $101 shipped with a scope and a Storm XT which was $65 at Wally world tax and everything. It also had a scope. Neither scope was even adequate and both were replaced with better scopes. Both guns also got CDT GRT III triggers at $32 additional and both shoot really well. So my “inexpensive” guns cost $150 to $200 over all. Both shoot extremely well and consistently. So does my $500 + Sumatra Carbine. But the two less expensive guns will out shoot it because of better trigger pulls.

      IMHO the things that affect accuracy most are barrel, trigger, and precision fit of parts. There is no doubt imho that a choked lothar walter barrel out shoots most others. And same for a Rekord vs most other triggers. Generally you think of $500 up guns as more likely to have a great barrel and an excellent trigger and more precise fit.

      Beyond that shooter skill comes into play.

      • So in summation,

        I want to eliminate shooter influence as much as possible in establishing accuracy potential for my guns. I want to KNOW that if I do my part I will place a pellet at the intersection of the cross hairs! That eliminates the “excuse factor” and allows me to learn my gun and the shooting techniques to shoot it accurately in the field.

      • pcp4me,

        You have said quite a lot. For example, you said you have no doubt that a Lothar Walther choked barrel outshoots most others. But does it? Or can a choked Crosman barrel outshoot the LW barrel? And if so, why?

        Triggers have almost no effect on accuracy in my experience, unless they are really bad. Kevin had the opportunity to shoot a 3 pound 12 ounce trigger last Saturday that he guessed was breaking at one pound. And he wouldn’t believe it was as heavy as I said it was until I put a gauge on it and showed him. A five-pound trigger will be just as accurate as a one-ounce trigger, in my experience, if the trigger breaks clean. It’s the shooter who make the difference.

        But you and I are not talking about what this test is all about. We aren’t looking for the most accurate airguns in this series. We are looking for ways to make any airgun more accurate. That’s what this series is about.

        The starting point makes little difference, as long as the finishing point provides better accuracy. The type of gun that took us there is more or less irrelevant.


    42. Well – I certainly can’t speak anyone but me… But – in my short experience, I have found that there are several big factors in my marksmanship, regardless of weapon, that determines how precise and consistent my shots are:

      1) Take time ‘placing’ the shot – I find that I have a natural tendency to rush the shot.

      2) Consistency in shooting position – very basic… but, it’s very important to establish as stable a platform as possible.

      3) Fatigue – I don’t know about anybody else… But – If I fire more than 40 pellets in one setting. I definitely need to get up, walk around, and take a break before I shoot any more. Once fatigue starts setting in – I tend to rush, my concentration isn’t where it should be, and it get to the point where you are just shooting to ‘get it over with’… not a good situation.

      The ergonomics of a weapon can play a factor in a person’s impression of a weapon’s ‘accuracy’… because of my military experience (more than 20 years, 2 combat tours) — I, personally, tend to favor a weapon that has a pistol grip, or an amibidextrous stock…. doesn’t mean I can’t shoot a weapon with a standard stock – I feel I can do pretty with those – but, I feel more comfortable with the pistol grip. The other is weight, and how easily you can find the ‘balance point’ of the weapon…. A heavier stock, I feel, is much more forgiving — the weapon isn’t going to sway around nearly as much as a very light weapon. As far as the balance point – I like to place my foregrip hand on the rifle where I can literally pick up and hold the rifle in one hand — balancing it my palm. That means that rifle has a single ‘pivot point’, which makes the rifle much more stable and predictable…. at least – it works for me… so far. πŸ™‚

      • Karsten,

        I think you are getting off-track here. This isn’t about the shooter. It’s about the rest of the problem. We are looking for anything that will improve accuracy no matter who is pulling the trigger.

        In short, we are looking for the “secrets of accuracy.”


    43. Well… in that case. Like I said above – a heavier stock is much more forgiving. And the ease in which a person can find the ‘balance point’ I think is very important. Most other things on a rifle – whether it be an air rifle or a traditional firearm – can be adjusted. πŸ™‚

    44. “We are looking for anything that will improve accuracy no matter who is pulling the trigger.”

      You know – All day, I kept looking at this phrase you used in your last reply to your blog post… and it had me honestly thinking.

      That phrase, in my opinion, is a very tricky thing… what do I mean? I’ll explain:

      You can take the most expensive, totally costumized precision olympic grade target rifle ever made… if you give it to an inexperienced shooter — you’re not going to have ‘accuracy’.

      On the other hand – if you hand the same weapon to someone who has a good body of experience, even if they never competed in olympic 10 meter target shooting…. if have a good body of experience with air rifles — the results would give reflect a greater degree of ‘accuracy’.

      Shooting habits aside — I still strongly believe that any test on accuracy, has to be a test of the entire ‘shooting platform’… meaning the rifle, optics/sights, ammunition/ammo/pellets, and the shooter. Without the shooter – the rifle will never hit anything – they don’t fire themselves. πŸ™‚

      Also – I would still go back to the question I raised in my first post. What constitutes ‘accuracy’? Every shooter has a goal in mind when they pick up a weapon and fires….. and if they can reliably acheive that goal each and every time — that person would say that they and the rifle are ‘accurate’. But – what an olympic shooter views as accuracy is worlds different than the ideals of the backyard plinker. If they both acheive their goals, and are happy with their results…. who’s right and who’s wrong? πŸ™‚

      • What I mean when I raise the ‘shooting platform’ issue is: How well is the entire ‘system’ working together to acheive a result? Is the rifle fighting with the ammunition? Are the optics causing problems with the shooter’s ability to line up the target? Is the shooter comfortable enough that they aren’t constantly fighting and fidgeting with the rifle?

    45. Hi Tom,

      I read that you might try the EunJin in the 34. I’ve shot that round from my RWS 36 (1980 vintage, now the 34) and it is too heavy. It almost falls out of the end of the barrel (ha). Anyway, the EunJin might not be a good baseline. ps. the Crosman Premier domes work well in my gun.

      Matt Smith

      • The idea is not to establish a baseline that is restricted in what a shooter can use. Use what you have that could use a bit of improvement.
        To make this easier and still get some inputs, the shooter might not need to buy a scales or caliper. Use what you have on hand to test the things you can. Some would be able to test all the possibilities, while others would be able to test at least some.
        We could all try cleaning the barrel or lubing pellets. If we have a scale, we could sort by weight. If we have a caliper we could sort by size. If we have the whole works, we could try it all.

        I think that B.B. could get more participation this way. No extra expense required and still getting some input.


    46. I think that this idea of a great accuracy test is great. It is the same as round robin testing by various metallurgy labs to see how their instruments and testing techniques compare to other labs. This is a great task. Hmm, I seem to be using the word great a lot. Anyway, in stead of a particular rifle to use maybe the criteria for showing the results is more important. As for a gun to use, don’t limit it to any particular gun. If you do the participation would be limited. Let each individual use their own guns and pellets. The questions become things like if pellet weight is a criteria, then to what decimal place should it be measured to? I work in a metallurgy lab and can weigh my pellets to the .0001 gm. but those cost $3000-$4000. As for pellet sizing I remember that field target shooters used an old clear plastic Bic pen and that sizing was accomplished by how far it went down the gradual tapering pen barrel. I was never able to find one since Bic quit making them. The closest I came is a small clear plastic funnel with a tapered tube. It has to be clear or translucent to see how far it drops. Micrometers would be hard to use on pellets with thin skirts. An optical comparator shadowgraph would be nice but few would have access to one. I think that chronograph testing is extremely useful. I recently got one through pyramyd air and I wish I had gotten one a long time ago. I found that my TX200 I bought 11 years ago is a tack driver with the Crosman Premier Heavies 10.66 grain. With the Crossman premiers I got 15.76 ft-lbs had the least standard deviation in muzzle velocities as compared to JSB exact heavies 14.51 ft-lbs, JSB exact lites15.17 ft-lbs, Croman Premier Lites 15.43 ft-lbs, Crossman Copperhead Pointed 15.27 ft-lbs. even though the standard deviation of the JSB’s weights were lower. One would think that energy stored in the spring would be constant and the muzzle energies constant but that is not the case. This opens up a whole can of worms. Every rifle is different even in the same rifle model. That is due to making the guns to tolerances and not making every part the same. With manufacturing statistical control hopefully the rifles will become evermore consistant and accurate. This is on the manufactures’ shoulders. Whatever tests are selected I would think that at least 10 shots be fired with the average, spread and standard deviation reported. This can be done with an inexpensive scientific calculator or on an Excell spreadsheet. So I guess a way to procede is to let everyone do their thing. Weighing vs just picking out of the tin. Sizing versus just picking out of the tin Weighing and sizing versus just picking out of the tin. Then see what the center to center spread and muzzles velocities are. Just my two cents.

      • I’m not that knowledgeable in statistics haha I once knew a little more but that was a long time ago. I would think that some type of statistics be applied on all the measurements. I have the least expensive chrony that doesn’t have the statistics package…mines the green chrony not the red one. It’s a really big experiment but would provide some great information. I suppose someone could then take everyones input and see how your measurements compare. This is done with the metallurgy labs. The round robin testing is required for laboratory accreditation. I was thinking more about the optical comparators the casts shadow greatly magnifying the image making the measurements more accurate and fast. hmmm that has me thinking…I could observe the pellet with our labs metallograph microscope and digital imaging system.. I could get diameters to .00001″ pretty fast too… just draw a line and measurement instantaneous. I had the idea of using a pistol range too. I think 25 yards is a good distance and theres one in Vandalia OH where I live. I can’t see why they wouldn’t let you use a chronograph … I’m wondering if there is enough light.

    47. Yeah, I still searching. Anyway for some weighing results this morning at work, we have to get our priorities right haha. I weighed JSB heavies in grams to the fourth decimal place and converted to grains by multiplying by 15.432358. Results: 10.267, 10.256, 10.298, 10.310, 10.386, 10.273, 10.307, 10.327, 10.298. What struck me most was where did the 10.386 pellet fit in. The difference including that pellet is .1296 grains Xmax-Xmin, 10.3026 avg., .03863 st.dev. but without it .0709 grains Xmax-Xmin, 10.2922 avg, .24284 st.dev.

      • Hmm not sure why anonymous got there. Maybe because I used the comp at work. I got busy at work. What I wanted to include was say one uses a scale that is only good to .1 grain. If he would weigh pellets that weigh for instance 10.267, 10.256, 10.259, 10.251 and 10.349 they would all display as or I think they would all display as the pellet weighing 10.3 grains. Where the spread in the first four is .016 grains but including the fifth is .098 grains. Whether or not this is significant remains to be seen. And if the shooter knows this, he may be intentionally or subconsciously biased when he comes to the one which is way off. I suppose the weigher should number the pellets and the shooter just number the holes in the target. Then let the weigher figure out whether or not there is any correlation. Anyone want to get in on this?

    48. How about a really powerful BB rifle that is very accurate. Not the loose fitting barrels we find now but a 1000 fps rifle with a barrel that is made for accuracy. Would be nice if it were a repeater and maybe even a PCP rifle.

      The lower powered rifles are nice and some very accurate. But would like to have something in a BB rifle to go with my Marauder or Evanix Blizzard.

      • Daniel,

        That isn’t what we are doing here. We aren’t designing new guns, but figuring out the best way to shoot existing guns with the pellets we have access to. In other words, we are discovering what works and what doesn’t.

        As far as your powerful and accurate BB gun goes, how would that be done? Round ball smoothbores are not as accurate as rifled guns, and tests have demonstrated that they cannot be made to equal them, no matter what is done. So what would we do to create the gun you speak of? What level of accuracy are you after?


    49. B.B. A little off the subject. Yesterday the piston seal and springs came in for my Slavia 630 model 77.
      I was given this rifle from a fellow shooter because it was badly rusted. Well I put a lot of elbow grease in on this rifle polishing it and then had it black oxide coated. I get it done for free, since the company I work for does this. I’ve even done salt spray tests on parts black oxide coated and it performs very well as long as a coating of oil is applied to it. Anyway the thing new spring was 7 mm longer than than the old spring and the muzzle energy went from 5.73 ft-lbs to 5.90 ft-lbs using JSB exact lites. This rifle looks pretty darn nice now, if I don’t mind saying so myself. And it is sweet to shoot.

    50. After some 25 yard shooting this evening,I really studied my data, in particular on my TX200 .177 cal. and Benjamin Trail All Weather Nitro Piston .22 cal. and have come up with this: Find the pellet your rifle likes based on muzzle energy. You will need a chronograph for this. I bought mine through Pyramyd AIR and they provide great service. Then sort that pellet by weight. At least to the second decimal grain weight. So far my TX200 likes Crosman Premier Heavies 10.66 grains in the brown box best. My Benjamin Trail likes H&N hollow points 12.61 grains the best. Who knows, there may be other pellets even better that I haven’t tried. For some reason it seems that you rifle is telling what it likes by muzzle energy and the accuracy comes from pellet it likes provided the pellets weigh the same. Does that make sense? Still a lot of work to do. I think that it is the pellet’s weight causing those flyers. As for ballistic coefficients and tables, I through mine out the window. Trash. You just have to go and shoot at the various yardages. It’s more fun too. My opinion anyway.

    51. I hope a lot of people will get in on the action. Pellet action anyway. It’s a lot of fun trying to improve accuracy of less expensive rifles and the more interaction the better information we all can gather. I mean I’d hate to take a $3000+ competition rifle hunting through brush, wetlands and briars but I would like to think if I had a shot at a critter, I would have a good chance of hitting it. Thats why I got a Benjamin nitro piston all weather. I don’t have to worry about going through the brush and swamps. And I still love to shoot my $19 Shanghai Hercules .22 cal rifle. I refinshed the stock and it looks pretty darn good and it’ll kick a can further than any expensive competition air rifle ever could. I would like to see a manufacturer come out with an underlever nitro piston rifle. Being a metallurgist I can also looks at things from a materials point of view such as spring materials fatigue strength creep shot peening etc. seal materials, wear, lubrication. I was looking at some pellets today under a macroscope and saw slivers of lead right on the end of the skirts, as if maybe there wasn’t sufficient die lube when the pellets were made. I was thinking what would happen if this sliver was thrown off due to centrifugal forces as it left the muzzle or if remained attached. Surely it would affect accuracy. Hmm just some more work to be added to the list. And what about the sealing and alignment of a break barrel using a scope. There must be a reason why break barrel manufactures put iron sights on the barrel and not the piston chamber. And what about the preload on the bolt holding the barell, the spring for the barell lock and lube. I know an engineer that spent his entire career on wheel tie bolt torque and lubes on aircraft wheels and it’s affect on fatigue. Thats why I love my Air arms TX200 underlever. I also know that my eyes are pretty bad. that is why I have to rely on scopes. I mean I have to wear trifocals and even take my glasses off sometimes. You young shooters don’t laugh, wait till you get to be my age. Both my sons are better shots than me. My oldest son got a marksman bar at the US Naval Academy and was visit, board, search and seizure officer when his boarding team captured 10 pirates in the Gulf of Aden last year. And my youngest son was given a BSA Supersport because a shooter was impressed with his shooting at a field target match. He shot my Baikal M61 5 shot I recently bought through Pyramyd air and thought it was real sweet. They’re grown up now but I remember buying them pellet rifles when they were six or seven. Notice I said rifles not BB guns because I wanted them to have better accuracy and less ricocheting than BB’s and I still have my Model 25 Daisy Electric Blue BB gun my Dad got me when I was s kid. Still looks great and shoots good. No rust, but paint worn off some expecially in the cocking area. Recently Chronyed it and put out 1 ft-lb energy. My Dad taught me to always oil my guns after shooting and I alway did. Oh, by the way, I never got told ” You’ll shoot your eye out.” haha.

    52. The other day I went out shooting in a marshy area. All the sparrows and starlings must have seen me coming. Anyway, I starting shooting at cattails. It’s pretty cool when you hit them and the fuzzy seed parachutes explode off in all directions. Then I started missing them. I started to think, what the heck is going on. At first I thought, something must be wrong with my scope, a 6X24 40 Tasco World Class airgun scope. Then I heard the pellets seem to change noise as they exited the barell. I was ready to trash my Benj. Trail . Then, when I got home, I examined everything and discovered that both front stock screws had gotten loose. Very imperceptible, but when you think about it, just a little movement in the mass of an air rifles barell and receiver can take out much more energy when compared with the mass of a dinky pellet and this is more exacerbated in a springer than say a PCP even with a gas spring. When I removed the screws, I noticed that there was just a little dab of blue loctite on their ends. In this case, “a little dab won’t do ya”. I applied some blue loctite around the entire threads and let it set overnight and it cleared the problem. I guess if I stood all day assembling air rifles, I’d just dab a little too. Air rifle manufacturers need to pay attention to these things so their guns don’t develop a reputation. When I replaced a spring and piston seal on a Slavia 630 Model 77, I observed some score marks in the piston chamber and on the piston seal. I am willing to bet these were produced in the first few shots that were ever fired from the rifle. I carefully cleaned everything before I put it back together. I also black oxide coated the pertinent parts but plugged the barell during the black oxide process before I assembled everything. Even the coefficient of friction of lead against black oxide is different than the coefficient of steel against lead. Like materials such and steel against steel tend to gall and wear more than unlike materials such as steel against lead or steel against stainless steel for instance. Just thought I’d like to share my experience on materials selection on aircraft wheels and brakes where all these factors come in to play with air rifles too. I’m even thinking of coatings to be applied to pellet dies such a titanium nitride, to prevent wear and sticking. I have no idea what pellet manufacturers use but I like to think about it.

    53. Hey, all you shooters, I received an AWS DIA-20 digital scale in the mail today. Comes with 2 calibration weights and a pair of tweezers. Bought thru Amazon for $18.81 includes shipping and handling. Weighs to .001 gram or .02 grains. Can choose units grams, grains, carats or pennyweight. Weighed some H&N hollow points .22 cal. in grains 12.36, 12.80, 12.44, 12.82, 12.74, 12.36, 12.60, 12.76, 12.54, 12.74. JSB exact lites.177 cal. in grains 8.28, 8.50, 8.44, 8.58, 8.50, 8.56, 8.42, 8.36, 8.40, 8.42. And it fits in your shirt pocket.

      B.B. I’m still working on a suitable sizer.

      I was pretty busy at work today inspecting rocket and mortar parts for proper heat treatment and microstructure. It’s some of the things we Americans do and specify to ensure the safety and protection of our men and women in the armed forces. I did get a chance to look at some pellets and found that the JSB heavies .177 cal. were the cleanest, however they appeared to be the most prone to skirt damage. The next cleanest pellets were the H&N .22 cal. hollow points but a few of them did have slivers on the end of the skirts. The Crosman .22 cal field (somewhat pointed) 14.3 gn and Croman Premiers Heavies .177 cal. 10.66 grains were the dirtiest. Lots of slivers and particles on the inside and on the skirt ends. Just some more work, but I like to keep busy anyway. Not to sure what one usually uses to clean the pellets, but I plan to weight the pellets then clean them in methanol, carefully swooshing them around and then blow drying them. (I typically use this procedure with metallurgical mounts before I observe them under the microscope) The methanol helps them dry more quickly this way. Then I will observe them under the macroscope to see whether or not they cleaned up any any then weigh them again. Not being involved with the manufacturing of the pellets I don’t really know if the differences are due to the type of die lube, if any, die coatings, if any, surface finish of the dies, etc. or whether or not a certain manufacturer washes their pellets. Then we have to see whether any of this affects the accuracy. And that’s just for maybe a few guns. B.B., I think you’ve opened up a great big can of night crawlers. haha

      • I was pleasantly surprised with the accuracy of this scale. Compared with weights traceable to NIST and using the two calibration weights that came with the scale, These were the results. All in grams since that is what the weight set is in.

        Reading Calibrated Weight
        1.008 1.000
        0.499 0.500
        0.202 0.200
        0.105 0.100
        0.050 0.050
        0.020 0.020
        0.010 0.010

        Most .22 and .177 pellets fall into the .4 – .9 gram range.

        • I might add that is would be best to handle the calibration weights with plastic tweezers than any metal tweezers like those that came with the scale. The calibrated weight set in my laboratory come with plastic tweezers.

      • Bruce Lamping,
        You didn’t give us any questions to reply to (hence the percieved silence) but you definitely gave us something to look forward to – your washing and re-weighing results. Please proceed with that.

        Your experience with the vaiying weights of pelets from the same tin is typical. My scale only goes to tenths of a grain so my results compared to yours would have revealed fewer divisions. I have had some pellets solidly weigh 10.6gr while others would vacillate between 10.5 and 10.6 before finally settling on one or the other. In this example, even if the final answer came up 10.5, I would place the pellet in with the 10.6 pellets because it is probably closer to 10.6 than 10.5. I believe this is because the pellet is probably 10.57 or 10.58 or 10.59 and the scale needs time to decide on .5 or .6. Your scale is definitely superior and it would be interesting to know if .01 or .02 really makes a difference in performance.

        Glad to see you on the blog. Hope to hear more from you.


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