by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, I want to let you know that there are two new videos on Airgun Academy:

Episode 25 – Introduction to airgun calibers: Part 1
Episode 26 – Introduction to airgun safety: Part 1

There’s also a new podcast. This is a special one. It’s the interview with Dr. Robert Beeman, founder of Beeman Precision Airguns. Sorry this has taken so long, but Edith processes them and she had a few unavoidable delays getting this ready for publication.

On to today’s blog.

Part 1


This is the actual rifle I’m testing. Isn’t that wood beautiful?

Today, I’ll resume our look at the HW 100S FSB PCP air rifle. For what I am about to do, I apologize: By the end of this section of the report, several of you will want to get this rifle.

This is velocity day and we have two things to test. First, we’ll be testing the velocity of the rifle with three popular brands of .22 caliber pellets. Based on the published energy potential of the rifle (26 foot-pounds), I’ve selected the Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellet for its weight of 21.1 grains. I’ve tested this pellet in other rifles and found it to be just as accurate as the all-lead Kodiak, so I felt this was an appropriate pellet to test. It just barely clears the repeating mechanism, front and rear, so it’s probably at the upper limit of pellet weights for use in this rifle in the repeating mode. If you obtain the optional single-shot adapter, you could load longer, heavier pellets.

The second pellet I chose was the 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Exact Heavy. Not only is this a good pellet in powerful guns, it also got at least one good mention in the customer reviews of this gun.

The third pellet I selected was the venerable 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. I wouldn’t normally select a pellet this light for a rifle rated at 26 foot-pounds, but the Premier is such a well-known pellet that I felt it had to be included. Unfortunately for me that choice cost me dearly, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Loading
Loading the circular clip for this rifle is quite easy. A mark on the outside of the clip tells you where you are, plus I was able to see the pellets as they fed into the breech since I haven’t mounted a scope yet. When installed in the gun, the clip rotates clockwise, so you always know to load pellets to the left of the outer mark on the magazine. The clip removes and installs easier than any circular clip I’ve ever used in a PCP rifle. And, the cocking sidelever is equally smooth and easy. I found the HW 100S FSB to be the epitome of a smooth-shooting PCP.


Two 14-round clips come with the rifle. Pellets are loaded from the back of the clip, shown on the right. The indexing line discussed in the report can be seen on the edges of both clips.

Discharge sound
This is not a quiet air rifle! The sound at discharge is approximately the same as a Sheridan Blue Streak or Benjamin 392 on 8 pumps. It really cracks! We must take into account that the rifle is generating more than twice the power of the multi-pumps, but I think the sound will bother those shooters who want perfect quiet from their guns.

Velocity
The first pellet tested was the Beeman Kodiak Copper-Plated pellet. They averaged 799 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 29.92 foot-pounds, so the advertised 26 foot-pounds is very conservative. The velocity ranged from a low of 789 to a high of 805 f.p.s., for a the total spread was 16 f.p.s. I will be interested to see how accurate this pellet will be, because it really delivers the power.

Next, I tested the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. They’re shorter than the Kodiaks, so they fit the clip much better. They averaged 874 f.p.s., which calculates to a muzzle energy of 30.71 foot-pounds. That is an increase over the heavier Kodiaks! Normally heavier pellets are more efficient in PCPs, but we’ve just encountered an exception. The velocity spread went from 872 to 878 f.p.s., so just six feet per second between the slowest and fastest shot. That’s really amazing.

Trigger
Normally, I would address the trigger in Part 3, when I test accuracy, but I just couldn’t wait that long. It’s a two-stage pull and releases with just 8 oz. of pressure. This is a TRIGGER! I feel like I’ll be able to do wonderful things with this rifle because of this light, crisp predictable trigger. You can forget about me adjusting it, because it’s perfect right now. In fact, I’ll make a confession about this trigger.

This trigger is so beautiful that it made me do something about my 1886 Ballard trigger. As nice and accurate as the Ballard rifle is, its single-stage trigger releases with 7 lbs., 6 oz. of pressure! That’s simply too much weight for good target accuracy. I’ve contacted the Ballard Arms Company to inquire if they can make and fit a double-set trigger into my rifle without altering the rifle in any way. I want to retain the original trigger in original condition, and I want no original parts to be worked on, but I would like to have a better trigger in that rifle. I had it out at the range last week and the best I could do for 10 shots was just under two inches at 100 yards. I know that a better trigger could shave that considerably.

So, if I end up selling you on this HW 100, please bear in mind that it has already cost me money. I doubt your wife will appreciate my situation, however.

On with the velocity test
The third and final pellet I tested in the rifle was the Crosman Premier. Since the gun fell off the power curve after shot 25, I will not report the average for this pellet. Instead, I’ll show you all ten velocities.

Shot….Velocity
1……….952
2……….956
3……….954
4……….958
5……….952
6……….946
7……….949
8……….940
9……….935
10………927

It’s pretty obvious to me that the power fell off after the fifth shot. With the first two strings added in, that makes a total number of 25 shots on the first fill. You could argue that the next few shots are all close enough in velocity that this drop-off doesn’t really matter — and perhaps 30 total shots are possible. Okay, I won’t argue that. But that’s about it for one fill. The manometer needle has dropped to the lowest portion of the green (good) sector, so the reservoir needs to be refilled.

My bad day!
I had just relined my silent pellet trap with fresh duct seal before testing this rifle. The tens of thousands of smashed lead pellets that normally help retard each shot were not present. I also write a daily blog on airguns, and in my safety lectures I often tell my readers that a powerful airgun will shoot through a backstop if you shoot too many shots in the same place.

But I didn’t think it could happen to ME! Certainly not TWICE!

You see, I shot through another silent pellet trap that was made by another airgun dealer and given to me as a gift several years ago. But that trap had no steel plate backing the duct seal. A trap I made myself (using Edith’s best cookie sheet) did. I shot all the way through the new duct seal and through the steel backing plate and into the wall behind the trap!


Take a close look at the string of holes on the right. See the bunch of four near the top of that string? Those were the Premiers that punched through the duct seal in the trap, the steel plate backer, the half-inch plywood behind that and embedded in my office wall.


And that’s what it looks like when a pellet blows through a silent pellet trap! In this photo you can even see the steel plate and the half-inch of plywood that failed to stop the pellet after it penetrated two inches of duct seal.

So, kiddies, do as B.B. says and not as he does. For gosh sakes, a 30 foot-pound PCP is almost like shooting a .22 short — especially at close range. I will now have to resort to the homemade pellet trap that was given to me by Jim Contos earlier this year. It has twice as much steel backer plate inside, plus the container is PVC and not wood. I think it can do the job. It better, because I’m running out of spackle for the walls!

On the other hand — are you impressed? I know I am. This HW 100S FSB is an extremely powerful air rifle to be able to blast through a trap like mine that has stopped long rifle bullets (when it was loaded with spent lead pellets).

Premier velocity revisited
Now that all the fuss is out of the way, I refilled the reservoir and shot another string of Crosman Premiers. They averaged 956 f.p.s., which means they generated a muzzle energy of 29.03 foot-pounds. The rifle is most definitely a 30 foot-pound gun. The spread this time was from 954 to 959 f.p.s., so only five f.p.s. between the two extremes. Continuing to shoot Premiers netted me a total of 38 full-power shots, so the advertised number of 40 seems reasonable. Perhaps the rifle wasn’t quite full on the first fill.

What do I think?
At this point I think I’ve got a tiger by the tail. I think this HW 100S FSB could turn out to be one of the all-time best PCP rifles I’ve ever tested. Yes, it’s expensive, but so are many other rifles it competes with. We’ll have to wait and see on the accuracy, but I’m very impressed at this point.