.22-caliber Browning Gold air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

With the assistance of Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1


Browning’s Gold breakbarrel is a beautiful new spring-piston rifle.

Today, we’ll test the velocity of the Browning Gold. Mac is here and did the shooting for today’s test. He was surprised by the 45 lbs. of force needed to cock the rifle, just as I was; but by the time he finished the test, things were moving right along. So, you do get used to it.

Firing behavior
Mac notes that the rifle fires briskly, which means with noticeable recoil but without excess vibration. It’s a solid feel. You could say it feels much like the old British-made Webley Patriot, though not as intense.

The trigger was a problem on the first gun that Mac tested, but in this rifle it’s fine. Of course, we’ll find out more when I test the rifle for accuracy because that’s when the shooter is forced into a close relationship with the gun. The trigger on this rifle breaks uniformly at 3.5 lbs.

Power
Browning advertises the rifle at 800 f.p.s. in .22, which is stout and also right where you want it to be for hunting. I asked Mac to test it with three popular pellets, and I shot a couple rounds with a fourth just to see for myself how the rifle behaves.

The first pellet tested was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. Based on the advertised velocity, I expected to see something around 750 f.p.s. from this pellet, but the average was actually 729 f.p.s. That gives us a muzzle energy of 16.88 foot-pounds. Velocities varied from a low of 724 f.p.s. to a high of 733 f.p.s., so the total spread was just nine f.p.s. For a brand-new gun that hasn’t been broken in yet, that’s very consistent.

Next up was the JSB Exact Express 14.3-grain dome. Because this pellet is pure lead, I would expect it to go slightly faster than the hard-alloy Premier, but it actually went a little slower. They averaged 721 f.p.s. for 10, with a spread from 716 f.p.s. to a high of 731 f.p.s. The total spread was 15 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generate 16.51 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

The last pellet tested was the old standard H&N Baracuda Match, which most of you know is the same as the Beeman Kodiak Match. In the Gold, they averaged 594 f.p.s., which generates a muzzle energy of 16.57 foot-pounds. The spread went from a low of 586 f.p.s to a high of 600 f.p.s., so the total spread was 14 f.p.s. Because the Baracuda/Kodiak is such a great hunting pellet, I’ll be sure to test it for accuracy.

And, lest you lament that an 800 f.p.s. rifle is shooting at under 600 f.p.s., welcome to reality. This has been going on for as long as there have been pellet rifles and it in no way disparages the Browning Gold.

However…
But I know human nature, and there will be some readers who fixate on that 800 f.p.s. number, so I also tested it for a couple shots with .22 RWS Hobby pellets. At 11.9 grains, Hobbys are the lightest lead pellets around, and I always use them to test top velocities.

I fired three rounds that went 788, 778 and 783 f.p.s. So the rifle is spot-on where it is advertised to be; because, with a thousand-shot break-in, we expect it to increase by 20-30 f.p.s., at least.

Like Mac, I also found the gun to be authoritative but not overbearing. It’s not one bit like a long-stroke Chinese spring rifle that is shooting for the sound barrier. I noted that stage two of the trigger is long and a little creepy; but as I said in the beginning, the accuracy test will bring that out all the way.

Impressions thus far
At this point, I still think the Gold is a rifle that needs a proper break-in and will last. I wish I could say that cocking has become easier in the few shots we’ve fired thus far, but it hasn’t. However, the barrel lock is definitely smoother and lighter after these few shots. So the break-in continues.

31 thoughts on “.22-caliber Browning Gold air rifle: Part 2



      • From my tests the .22 cal ’34 is pretty close to this. The last one I tested (a 34P, after fixing the breech seal!) averaged 742 with the old Gamo Match pellets (14.3gr) and 719 with Crosman Wadcutters – which came out to 14.57gr when I weighed them.

        I’ve got a wood-stocked 34 now, maybe I’ll see what that one does.




  1. B.B.

    How do you measure the trigger pull weight?
    I just got a Lyman digital and immediately ran into trouble with springers. The reading I end up with is considerably more than what the trigger breaks at.
    I can pull very slowly and watch the guage creep up until it breaks (14.? oz with the R7), but after the shot it reads over one lb. The foreward recoil is giving the guage an extra yank that leaves me with a bad reading.

    twotalon


    • The best way to measure trigger pull, at least approximately, would be to hang a known weight on the trigger and keep adding to it until the trigger breaks. If you go up in one-ounce increments to begin with and (say) it didn’t fire at 14 but did at 15, then recock and hang 14.5 ounces on the trigger, etc. This “static” method won’t be confused by the recoil.

      Also, it approximates the way (I think) required minimum trigger pull is measured by “equipment control” at major matches.



  2. It looks like the HW55 I purchased recently is shooting fairly hot.

    With the JSB-made Cometa exact express domed pellets at 7.87grains, generously donated by Wayne Burns, USA airgun bench-rest team member, it is shooting an average of 660fps.

    JSB exact diablo heavies are shooting at 580fps.

    RWS hobby pellets are going about 715fps.

    I am guessing it was serviced recently, as I can smell oil burning. I am really liking the rifle so far, it shoots like a larger, heavy R7.

    Hopefully these readings are accurate, as I am somewhat new to using my chrony. If only someone would write a blog about tips for proper chrony usage! 😉


    • It might have a “50” spring, could be that extra oil you smell, maybe you need to open that Chrony the whole way, or it could just be a hottie like my .20 cal R7.

      I will report on the HW50 that Paul Watts has when I get it back. I also have the $130.00 GB HW50 at Rich in Mich’s. Will be interesting to contrast the and compare the two.


  3. On the plus side, I’ll say that there is really something to a harder firing gun. The fact is I like the way my B30 slams into the trap on my 20 foot shooting range. But that 45lb. cocking effort will leach away your shooting time, and you will find yourself wanting to hang it up sooner rather than later I expect. This however, raises another question of training methods. The other day I did my 120 shot course for the first time in awhile and was definitely dragging. So, I’ve lost some shooting conditioning. But the results were as good as any I’ve posted. The question is whether fatigue can be beneficial even though we know shooting calls for high concentration. I noticed the fatigue principle while doing martial arts training. Initially, I detested these workouts that were so hard and fast that your technique went all to pieces. But then I finally realized that the purpose was not just conditioning as I thought but also and even primarily technique. In the quest for speed and efficiency, you learned to eliminate what was unimportant, how to relax, and get the techniques burned into the subconscious. For my shooting, I was too tired to worry about every shot, so I just focused on the fundamentals and squeezed the trigger and presto. I wonder if there’s something to this.

    PeteZ and Duskwight, I’ve heard of a 7.62X54R as a bear rifle but maybe for the smaller brown bears. And if Nanook of the north sneaks up, hiding his nose with his paws, and then rears up in a screaming fury in your face, I can see how you would want to go much bigger.

    Wulfraed, I was operating from CFX comments which is to say I’m on ground as shaky as a gas planet, and the same goes for the Enfield. I don’t actually believe that any gun gets more accurate with distance, just that they may lose accuracy at a slower rate then others; we had a discussion about this a long time ago. On the subject of distance, though, have you seen the YouTube video of a guy breaking bottles at 230 yards with an Air Arms S410? I think we did a rough calculation that a pellet would have sufficient energy to do the job at that distance with a comparison of the pellet velocity at that distance compared to the potential energy of dropping a brick point first onto a glass bottle from one or two feet.

    Victor, one reason I forwarded the problem onto my friend was that she had a problem on the facing page of her textbook involving the calculation of the trajectory of a supersoaker. So, I suggested that she could go further in this same direction and write a problem about a real gun. She’s unusually open-minded which is the only reason I was able to connect with her in the first place. She had another problem in her book about the physics of judo–even claims to have studied it at an earlier age. However, I think I kind of overdid it with my detailed correction of her model of a shoulder throw with the dropping of the weight of the thrower and body rotation.

    Maybe I can call on your vector analysis skills again. The question is how to compare the efficiency of using a straight bolt arm versus a bent bolt. It would appear that the straight bolt is less efficient but apparently because of the shortness of the lever arm (done to minimize protrusion from the side of the rifle), not because of the upright position. A longer, bent bolt seems intuitively to be easier, but I don’t see any physical reason why it would be. As I read the definition of torque with T = r x F, it would appear that the optimum position of the lever arm is normal to the bolt surface and coinciding with the line radiating out of the axis of the bolt. So, the bent bolt should have the same efficiency as a straight bolt equal to the component of the bent bolt in the normal direction. And what does this imply about bent bolts with an additional bend in them? I suppose the same component analysis would apply and is it would in principle for curved bolt handles and dog leg shapes like the Ruger M77 which would be harder to calculate. And what about swept back bolts that come out of the plane of rotation of the bolt? Again, projected onto a straight lever design, there doesn’t appear to be an advantage. So, the popularity of non-straight bolts I would attribute to looks, a cleaner and more convenient rifle profile, and some mechanical advantage from the way the arm can be used, but not from the intrinsic physics of the bent bolt design. What do you (anybody) think?

    Matt61


    • Wulfraed, I was operating from CFX comments which is to say I’m on ground as shaky as a gas planet, and the same goes for the Enfield. I don’t actually believe that any gun gets more accurate with distance, just that they may lose accuracy at a slower rate then others; we had a discussion about this a long time ago. On the subject of distance, though, have you seen the YouTube video of a guy breaking bottles at 230 yards with an Air Arms S410? I think we did a rough calculation that a pellet would have sufficient energy to do the job at that distance with a comparison of the pellet velocity at that distance compared to the potential energy of dropping a brick point first onto a glass bottle from one or two feet.

      I don’t doubt it is possible to break bottles at distance (though the type of bottle may be a factor — iced-tea tends to have thinner walls than carbonated soda, and let’s not consider a champagne bottle). But given the trajectory required you’ve probably got an arrangement where a +/- 1inch acceptance zone may occur at distance 2-3 feet (first zero crossing), and then maybe at 230 yards +/- 3 inches. At the midpoint you are probably lofting through the hay-door of the barn (Don’t have Chairgun on the company computer ).

      I need to reprint the charts, but I believe my RWS Diana mod54 has a +/- 1inch capability from about 19yards to 36yards if (second) zero is around 33-34 yards (or numbers similar to this; and I think Chairgun defaulted to +/- 1 inch; maybe it was +/- 1/2 inch giving a one inch target zone in that range).


    • Oh, forgot to mention that if it were my college’s old archery equipment THEN I could believe something became “more accurate with distance”.

      I was using a cheap (Outers branded) 45lb pull compound bow that I’d purchased (employee discount at Sears), but I was using the college supplied arrows.

      Encountered an arrow that was spined so whimpy that when I shot (I was on target station 5 in a row of 6) I was able to watch that arrow curve at least three target to my left and then snake back to the right to hit the target I’d been aiming at. Even that low 45lb hunting pull was sufficient to accelerate the rear of the arrow faster than the tip — the arrow bent!, took off then as it straightened out it flexed the other way. I suspect that, over 40 yards, the oscillations would have dampened out… Or gotten weirder since the fletching is rigged to spin the arrow — it might have started flying a helical path.

      {Whimpy arrows to go with the whimpy college recurve bows… One bow was so bad the girl who kept choosing it was practically anchoring behind her ear… and throwing the arrow on release… to hit a target about 15 feet away}


    • Matt,

      7,62×54 rifle as a bear gun comes from its availabily to the mass hunter. It can kill it, but it’s not a definite showstopper. Think of Eastern-European bear as a typical-sized grizzly, the more eastwards towards Kamchatka – the bigger, because of colder climate and less human pressure. Kamchatka and Kolyma bears are on par with kadiaks, so – 7,62 is good enough, but not the best.

      I’ve been to Spitzbergen (an island in the Far North, co-owned by Russia and Norway) and I was shown some polar bears – some were dumpraiders, others wild. They seem to be a bit larger but leaner than common brown bear and with flatter head. From what I’ve heard, Umka (Chukcha name for it, Pomors call it Oshkuy) never roars, it attacks silently and very fast 🙂

      duskwight


      • Spitsbergen is part of the Svalbard Archipelago, but the whole thing is owned solely by Norway. Russia leases a large coal mine. See “Svalbard Treaty” on Wikipedia.


    • My experience is that the curved bolt is there to place it in line with the trigger. This makes it faster to use than one that is mounted forward. Example: 1917 Enfield vs the Mosin Nagant. Also, the bent bolt gives a faster lift with a Mauser action. Enfield No.4 has a straight bolt but the throw is short and the location is correct. That’s one of the reasons it’s so fast. A straight bolt can work with proper technique. The rifle is tilted to the right as the handle is lifted. This gives a faster cycle time.

      Mike


  4. B.B.,

    You saw an unexpected drop in velocity going from CPL’s to JSB Exact Express Domes. What was the difference in fit between the two? Was one much tighter than the other? If so, would that explain the drop?

    Victor


  5. B.B.,

    My question isn’t so much about air guns as it is about shooting and eyesight. You often comment in detail how your aging eyes and eyeglasses affect your accuracy with different sights, distances, targets, and so on. Whenever you do that, I read with extra interest and care. I’m 48 with a bit of astigmatism and farsightedness, but I see very well with my bifocals. Nevertheless, I’ve always felt that when it comes to shooting, I’m somehow handicapped visually.

    Here’s the thing. My opthamalogist last week told me that while my left eye, with correction, is just a hair better than 20 – 25, my right eye, with correction, is almost 20-15 (fighter pilot vision). Trouble is, I’m LEFT-HANDED! So when I shoot an air rifle with iron sights (not really an issue with a scope), I’m using the weaker of my two eyes.

    I went home from the doctor and tried to shoot right-handed. After 30 seconds of trying to hold my Walther Lever Action (not the sort of rifle I’d scope) right-handed, I could tell that was a no-go. It felt about as natural as swapping left and right shoes.

    However, I just read an old archived post on another airgun site from a right-handed shooter whose left eye is dominant, and he made the discovery, using a left-handed gun with its flatter left-side buttstock, that he could shoot right-handed but align his left eye behind the sights.

    Have you ever heard of this?

    Michael


    • Michael,

      I have heard of and even seen stocks with offsets so great that you can hold them on your right shoulder and sight with your left eye. So the reverse is also possible.

      However, your eyes are sharper than mine and I still use no glasses to shoot hundred-yard 10-shot groups smaller than two inches. It’s all in the sights that you use. The right peep sight can be almost as accurate as a scope under the best lighting conditions.

      The key is to use a ring insert in the front that just contains the bull. You will be surprised how accurate that can be.

      Harvey Donaldson (.219 Donaldson Wasp) shot that was when he was in his ’80s and still shot 10-shot groups smaller than an inch at 100 yards.

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        Thanks for the advice. I have had the opportunity to shoot an Avanti 853 with a low-end aperture sight, and after only a few shots I started to improve dramatically. Now if only it had a decent trigger! I also realized when I was a kid that my aim with my Daisy 25 was much better with the peep sight than the slot. My dad did take a teeny-tiny round file and enlarge the hole by perhaps 30%, which also helped.

        I have the model of Walther Lever Action that came with a small scope and a kinda funky device for attaching the scope. I took it all off, carefully put the accessories in the original box, and “atticked” it. Maybe that scope adaptor and a Williams peep sight would work, although I might have to change the front sight back to the old shaded one. (I also put a blade front sight on it.)

        I’ll try it grudgingly, though. Lucas McCain would never have been seen with an aperture sight. Heck, he was a crack shot without even lifting the buttstock above his hip! I forget, did Quigley have a flip-up aperture sight on his Sharps? If so, that would make me feel better about it, LOL.

        Thanks again,

        Michael



    • Perhaps…

      A test we are unlikely to ever see performed might be to take one each: wood and plastic; run the velocity and accuracy tests with each… THEN swap the actions and repeat the velocity/accuracy tests.

      Might indicate if wood or plastic stock helps or hinders…


      • Wulfraed,

        I don’t know enough about guns to strongly suspect that one would perform any better than the other because of the material of the stock. I would suspect that a thicker barrel would make a difference, but not different stock material. If I were to entertain that it mattered, it would only be because of something like vibrational characteristics, but that wasn’t something that I had considered. I was simply commenting that one is significantly less expensive than the other. The only way I’d be interested in this rifle is if it proved to be very accurate. If so, then I’d go synthetic, only because it’s so much cheaper. BUT, it would be a good candidate for such a tests, since the otherwise exact same rifle does come in two kinds of material.

        I don’t think that we’ve (collectively) gotten B.B.’s head to the point where it’s spinning, with all of our ideas for tests, but I do think we’ve gotten him to the point of chuckling. 🙂 “Aren’t we so cute!” ):

        Victor


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