What would B.B. do? Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Sometimes, I just need to blow off steam by writing about the things that interest me, and today is one of those days. There were a lot of oddball guns I could have written about, like my 1860s gallery dart gun that I showed you a while back. I took it to the airgun show at Malvern, Arkansas, this April and airgun collector/writer Larry Hannusch disassembled it as fast as I might field-strip a Garand. And almost as easily. I watched so I could do it again on my own, and I discovered that the gun is lacking its volute springs — the very things I was worrying about breaking if I shot the gun. So, I can now fix it with a coiled spring and a new cocking arm from Dennis Quackenbush. But that will be a future report.

David Lurch Primary New York City gallery gun.

Today, I want to talk about something that’s both very contemporary and yet wonderful at the same time. It’s one of those airguns that people either love or hate, though I’m about to show you some things you never saw before that might make you like it a little better.

The rifle is an AirForce Talon SS (cheers from our reader, twotalon), but it’s a look at the SS in a way that’s never been seen in print. I’m going to take you inside the walls of the AirForce company and show you what I was playing with when I was their Technical Director several years ago. This isn’t just any SS. It’s my SS.

What’s new?
After the Condor came out and most of the launch hooplah died down a bit, I realized that we now had a 24-inch barrel that would also fit the Talon SS. You get a 12-inch barrel with the gun when it’s new, and that barrel is totally enclosed inside the tubular frame of the rifle in the same way that a shroud fits other PCP airguns. Only, when the SS was designed, it was built that way on purpose, for those were the days before barrel shrouds became the rage. The Talon SS was the first production PCP to intentionally use a shrouded barrel to quiet the muzzle report.

But, I want to talk about the 24-inch optional barrel, because that was what was new to me in 2004. I knew that the Talon, with its 18-inch barrel was quite a bit more powerful than the Talon SS, by virtue of the extra six inches of barrel, so the question was: How much more powerful would it get if we added another six inches?

About that time, the phones started ringing at AirForce, asking the same question and I was tasked with finding out. We know that a .22-caliber Talon SS can pretty easily pull 25 foot-pounds with accurate pellets. I’m not claiming that to be the maximum power the gun can generate, but back in 2004 that was about the best we could do with accurate pellets. And, I plan to show you what “accurate” means in a future report.

Move to the longer-barreled Talon, and the same powerplant will generate about 32 foot-pounds under the same conditions. That gave me some hope that the 24-inch optional barrel might boost the SS up to 36 or possibly even 38 foot-pounds. But that estimate turned out to be conservative.

I did the testing and discovered that the SS with a 24-inch barrel could easily generate 39-41 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with good accuracy; and, if I used the heaviest pellets then available, it got up over 45 foot-pounds! Because it was capable of launching them so much faster with the longer barrel, the rifle became a good platform for the heaviest pellets. Whatever accuracy they were able to deliver that was decent — but not the absolute best — was a realistic thing for the modified rifle.

I’ll do a velocity test for you in the next part, but for now let’s just leave things there. I now had a 40-45 foot-pound air rifle that also got 35-40 good shots on a fill because I was still using the conservative SS valve. This was no Condor that blasts out all its air in 20 powerful shots. This was an air-sipper that also got great power (with the longer barrel) as well as a high number of shots per fill. It was difficult for me to justify putting the 12-inch barrel back on the rifle. Except for the noise.


My rifle is a lot longer than the standard Talon SS. It has a 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and an aftermarket silencer tube that extends the frame of the gun past the muzzle. I’ll tell you about the scope in part 3 of this report.

Because the 24-inch barrel sticks out past the frame, the SS is no longer quiet when the longer barrel is installed. But fast-forward a couple more years and that problem was solved. A device that at the time I bought it was called a “frame extender” became available. It was now possible to again enclose the barrel. When installed it, I discovered that this rifle is even quieter than the stock Talon SS, while producing about 10 foot-pounds greater muzzle energy.

I had my cake and was able to eat it, too! Except for one thing. The modified rifle is now very long. Many people said it was too long in this configuration. Well, excuse me, but I am the guy who also shoots a Trapdoor Springfield and a Remington Rolling Block rifle. Don’t tell me how a long a rifle should be!


My favorite firearm rifles are long single-shots, like this Trapdoor Springfield .45/70 (top) and Remington Rolling Block in .43 Spanish. Next to them my Talon SS is not a long gun.

The rest of my Talon SS is absolutely stock — most of it the way it came from the factory back in 2001. You would think that working at AirForce, where I had access to all the very best parts, I would have built up a special rifle for myself, but that wasn’t necessary. The parts they produce are all so uniform that I never had to do anything to my rifle in thousands of shots. I did replace the striker and its two bushing/bearings with a newer version, but that was only so I could test it extensively before AirForce started shipping it in guns. After the test was finished, I was too lazy to change back, so my rifle has a striker from 2004. The valve is untouched, just the way I got it back in 2001, and I used to build the valves when I worked at AirForce. If there was something better, I would have had one.

The trigger in my rifle has never been apart, let alone worked on. I learned very early that AirForce triggers are best left just as they come from the factory. One of my jobs was to spray the various trigger and safety parts with a dry-film moly that lubricates them for life. If you put oil or grease on an AirForce trigger, it will attract dirt — and that’s the quickest way I know to foul it. Trigger parts inside the frame channel have to be able to move as the gun is cocked and thus they need to be left absolutely dry.

So, my rifle is stock except for the addition of a long silencer on the end. Does the silencer work? Yes, it does! When my SS is generating over 25 foot-pounds, it makes the same noise discharging as a relatively weak breakbarrel like a Bronco.

What makes me like this air rifle so much? Well, I hope to demonstrate that to you in the coming reports. You’ve heard of a busman’s holiday? Well my Talon SS is the rifle I built for myself when I could have had anything I wanted, and I want to show you how well it works. The cool thing is that you can have one just like it, because my gun is entirely off-the-shelf!

37 thoughts on “What would B.B. do? Part 1

  1. B.B. I know you worked for AirForce, but it’s still nice to hear your a fan of the TalonSS. For some reason most of the airgunners I’ve either talk with or read seem to favor the more traditional rifles like the AirArms. Bub



    • Singing Lead:

      The HW97K was sold for the revenue it could provide, like some 50 others. As I recall it was the last of the 5 tuned Springer’s, and those 5 were the last of the spring rifles, so yeah I guess I liked it a little. First of that elite group to leave was the FWB124D.
      When the dust settled a well used but incredibly hot shooting R7 stood in the rack in .20 caliber all alone. The combination of low street value and being an all around shooter kept it at home.

      Final four:

      FX Cyclone – this one came back home via the Kevin the Kind Hearted, who sold it back to me when he noticed I was in the market for a PCP again.

      HW50M – still in Paul Watts skilled hands, I have hopes it will be the show piece of my tiny collection so when other post photos I will have something worthy of the bandwidth.

      QB 79 – tuned by Rich in Mich in .22 caliber it gets 16- 18 ft lbs from a 9 oz paintball tank and about 500 shots from that $2.00 fill. He also set it up to run on HEPA if ever needed.

      R7- from above.


  2. B.B.

    Gee whizz….I thought we all shot the TSS with the short barrel and the frame uncorked. That way you don’t have to worry about blowing the endcap into the next county. Is that why PA sells spare endcaps for the SS? Yeah, I know that the short barrels do not come with endcaps like the longer ones do.

    I agree that there are a lot of things you can do with an AF gun with just stock parts. Make a Talon or TSS into a Condor…Make a Condor into a Talon or TSS. 3 different valves, three different barrel lengths, 4 different calibers. Stock parts. About any power level you want. Did I leave out the CO2 option (also stock parts).

    twotalon


  3. Matt,

    If you give me your body dimensions I can draw a custom stock for you. My formula fits most common-built users, no matter their height or hand length.

    duskwight



      • Matt,

        Well, you have to do it just once and then you’ll become unstoppable 🙂 I’d recommend you to start with fixed barrel types, I guess you know my favorite 🙂

        duskwight


  4. The Talon SS 177/22 is great. The Condor .22 spits 18gn pellets at 1080fps for some serious energy.

    My only complaint about the AirForce rifles is the very thing that makes them great. The in-line air supply/bottle is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is you can remove it and fit the TSS broken down into a very small case. The reservoir holds a lot of air, making shooting fun. The down side is the scope to bore distance is 2.75-3″ depending on your mounts. This makes close range shots hard due to holdover.

    I’ve mounted a cheap BSA laser to my front accessory rail. I use the cheap Daisy “Red Dot” for their mounts to force the laser close to the bore. With this setup I can take close range shots with confidence and use the scope for anything 15+ yards. The laser height is a more conventional 1.5″ to bore, like a traditional rifle.

    Another plus of the Talon series… if something breaks you can order the individual part (barrel, frame, bottle) and replace it yourself very easily. Saving some $$$


    • Speaking of scope height…
      There is a little glitch to watch out for. You have to start right out with a need to crank up the scope by 3″. You have lost 3″ of your vertical adjustment to begin with. Then you are going to have to crank it up more when you finally get it zeroed at the distance you want because of the trajectory curve. In effect this starts looking like barrel droop. You can overrun your positive vertical range adjustment of the scope. Depends on bore alignment to the scope rail and how far the scope can be cranked before it loses control. Some scopes, no problem. Other scopes, big problem. You could end up needing adjustable mounts or a mount with built in droop compensation.
      How do I know this? It’s just one more thing that bit me.

      twotalon


  5. BB,
    Write about what you like. I think you will find you do your best work when doing that. Besides, the things that interest you will also interest a lot of us readers. I have never has a strong urge to own a Talon, SS, or Condor. They are neat guns though and I need to try one someday.

    David Enoch



  6. Mike,

    Yes, I do use the peep on the Buffington. I learned how on a 1903 Springfield and as long as I take my time and the target is bright, it works.

    I had to raise the front blade, though. Trapdoors are sighted for 200 yards, I believe, so they don’t shoot low enough at 100 yards and less.

    B.B.


    • Now herein lies an answer to many surplus rifles that are sighted for over 100 yards. How did you go about raising the front sight blade? The answers I’ve seen are a simple as placing a little rubber bootie over the front sight to installing a whole new post.

      Matt61


  7. Well, some fool ordered the 12 ft/lb kit for the 97K by mistake. It’s installed anyway, and is very smooth and quiet. Easier cocking. Sounds and shoots like my R7. No chrono check yet. Lighter scope installed. The rifle was already down to 12 ft/lb anyway.

    Might need some beer for the R9.

    twotalon



    • Jesse,

      Yes, to some extent they are different springs. The magazine spring is under way less tension than the air rifle mainspring. It is also softer and doesn’t tend to break down as a result. Of course it produces far less power for its size. And nobody ever clocks a magazine spring like we chronograph our airguns.

      Also, even though mag springs have been known to function reliably for more than 30 years, it is recommended that they be exchanged for new ones every second presidential election, or eight years.

      B.B.


    • Jesse,

      Just to add to B.B.’s words – steel springs “got tired” and they loose their force if a gun is left cocked for too long, but gas springs are OK to leave cocked even for a month or two, as they are based on compressed gas that never “tires”.
      Anyway, leaving a springer cocked is a VERY unsafe decision. You can harm yourself and others if that springer is loaded or ruin a gun or optics in case of dry-fire. Think of it as of a firearm with chambered round and cocked hammer/striker.

      duskwight


  8. BB,
    My first PCP was a ‘Gunpower Stealth’ .That is what the Airforce Talon/Condor is called over here.
    Got it home from the shop and after two shots the trigger failed to reset.
    I could trip the trigger manualy after each shot by gaining access to the mechanism but obviously that was not desirable in a new gun.
    Returned it to the shop and they told me they had no others in stock and I would have to wait three weeks for a repair.
    I told them to keep it,gave them an extra hundred quid and bought the LogunS16 instead.
    Turns out this shop had quite a bad rep(It has since closed down)for turning around faulty air guns.
    Shame my experience of an obviously good rifle was clouded by sharp practice.

    Belated happy 4th of July.
    SL is right we’ve still not quite got over losing the American colonies.
    Can we tempt you back?
    Kate Middelton as head of state…c’mon,don’t get better than that.lol
    DaveUK


    • Dave,

      I think we would take almost anyone over who we have now.

      I’m sorry your experience was a bad one. That trigger “problem” could no doubt have been rectified quite easily. But the S-16 is also a nice air rifle, so I’m sure you were happy with it.

      B.B.


    • Dave,
      That’s a very good idea! First act of the new parliament will be to sell the crown jewels to lower the colonies’ debt! Trust me, you don’t want to touch us with a 10 foot pole! Best thing for you old Georgie ever did was lose the colonies – posthumous medals to Generals Howe and Burgoyne are in order!
      AlanL



    • DaveUK, maybe you guys were the smart ones. You have all of our resources more or less on call by virtue of our “special relationship” without having to deal with the rest of our crap.

      Matt61


  9. BB,
    The Logun S16 was very good.Accurate,extremely quiet when silenced and bang on our legal limit.
    But.
    Beware the Mk1(non bull barrel version).Which is the one I had.
    The cocking mechanism was stiff and required a very positive back/forward motion on the bolt.
    Failing to adopt that method sometimes resulted in the rifle being half cocked and then when re working the bolt,it would index a second pellet into the breech.If not it certainly felt like it.
    Legend has it the original S16’s loading mechanism was meant to be like a pump action but the British Home office turned down the design and as a result the MK1 S16 bolt action was a hash job done on the hurry up.
    Not heard anything bad about subsequent Mk’s of the S16 though.

    AlanL,
    It appears we are in the same boat then.That is if our government hasn’t already sold the boat along with our aircraft carriers that is.:(
    DaveUK


  10. Ahhhh! (said as a sigh)…I can enjoy this article and the coming ones on the TSS without that lustful tug since I already have one. The .177 TSS was my first foray into the PCP Darkworld. I entered with CO2 but am now on pure, dry, breathable air. If I wanted to, I could go back to CO2 simply by threading on the adapter and the bottle into that. I look forward to the next article(s) to reaffirm my decision to own one.


    • Chuck,

      This report is for you and for owners like you who now have this gun. I want to show you something you have never seen. The power and accuracy you can get with the 24-inch barrel is stunning. I also want to show all AirForce rifle owners how I hold the rifle so that it doesn’t need a high scope mount.

      And that’s just the beginning. I have other plans for down the road that include this rifle.

      B.B.


      • BB,
        Thank you! You know how to enrich the experience of at least one out of ten thousand readers. I’m pretty sure the other 9,999 are just as enriched, too, or they wouldn’t be part of my unofficial count. Even though I enjoy my TSS very much you are approaching the very answers I crave to increase that enjoyment.


  11. B.B., well unless you are going to do CQB, I don’t see anything wrong with a 24 inch barrel. Isn’t this the barrel length of an M1? I find it actually to be surprisingly handy. I’m curious about the fascination with single shots. Maybe you will convert me in time as with so many other things. I suppose there is a certain purity in having one shot to concentrate on. And I’ve already spent a ton for my most expensive gun, the Anschutz. But my guiding vision still remains all of those people in history like the mountain men off in the wilderness who (literally) would have died to have a whole magazine. Imagine them suddenly popping up from behind a log with a BAR and saying “Surprise” to the charging enemy horde. Now given that I am fortunate enough to live in an era where magazines are invented… why not have one I say. The fact is that my whole interpretation of the Jaws film has been altered knowing that the hero had an M1 Garand. The poor shark had no idea of what he was up against….

    As a distaff example, though, I have been watching with interest old film clips of the 88mm German anti-aircraft gun. It is pretty cool how the gun kicks out its case automatically without someone having to work the breechblock. But on closer inspection, I see that the loading as well as the extraction appears to be automatic. It looks like the loader just heaves in the shell, the breechblock closes automatically, and the gun fires. Would you have any insight into this from your experience with artillery? I guess the chambering of the shell somehow initiates the firing cycle. I’m trying to draw a connection between my B30 and the 88….

    Victor, here’s a challenge for prone shooting. Me with my Anschutz slinged up on the floor of my shooting room with my legs straddled over various boxes and objects like a sniper in Enemy at the Gates and myself lining up on an ink dot that is a few inches away from my muzzle. However, I’m at least practicing my shooting technique.

    For the reloading saga, I am now mounting the press! And I am arriving at a new appreciation of the stability required. Per instructions, I am countersinking gigantic bolts (up to a quarter inch deep) in my wood block with lusty pulls on my wrench. I can see how my C-clamp vision was not up to the strains involved at all. As the saying goes, the broader (sounder) the foundation, the higher the skyscraper!

    Matt61


  12. Matt,

    Since I’ve got all the on-line catalogs from the major match gun makers bookmarked, it took me maybe 10 minutes to check every rifle and stock in current production. As you might guess, there ain’t all that many.

    Oh, I don’t think the 88 fired automatically. It was an anti-aircraft gun, and updating the aimpoint as long as possible would be an advantage.


  13. Sigh, Didn’t find anything in PA sadly but I’m going there again on the 10th so maybe I’ll get lucky this time. But I read a blog from 2007 about Roanoke and there was something about guns pyramyd air didn’t put online, I believe they where Turkish and I was wondering if they still have some or something else they didn’t stock.


  14. BB,
    This is very cool! The idea of having the entire stock room to pick and choose from with a chuckle and a gleam in your eye….. I’m going to make something just for ME! But having the technical background to KNOW what would work well together is what makes it all click. That is quite an opportunity you were able to take advantage of.
    Thanks very much for sharing this with us.
    I am anxious to hear more.
    Lloyd


  15. BB, I left my Trapdoor as issued but shoot lighter bullets in it. The Lee 370 gr. only shoots three inches high with my rifle @ 100 yds. This is with a starting charge of IMR 3031. Recoil is mild making it fun to shoot too. “Zero” with this bullet is about 200 yds. The one I have has the third variation rear sight. That’s the one just before they went to the Buffington. I have used it in long range rifle caliber Cowboy Action events. Great fun!

    Mike


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