Beeman RX-2 Elite Series combo air rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Beeman’s RX-2 is a handsome air rifle. The brown laminated stock looks perfect.

Man does not live by bread alone — so today we’re having cake! Taking some time away from the BB guns, today we’ll begin looking at a Beeman RX-2 Elite Series combo air rifle. This rifle is built by Weihrauch and has a Theoben gas spring instead of a coiled steel mainspring. It’s still a spring-piston gun, but the gas spring changes some of the characteristics that I’ll address as this report unfolds.

I decided this time to treat all of us to a combo package instead of a basic rifle that I would then have to scope. Pyramyd Air mounted the scope for me and performed their 10-for-$10 test, which means they chronographed the rifle with 10 shots (actually 13) and included the chrono ticket inside the package. That way both Pyramyd Air and the customer know what the rifle can do at the moment of delivery. This service is included in the price of the combo package, so all you have to do is order what I did.

The RX-2 comes in all four smallbore calibers, but if ever there was a case for ordering the larger calibers, this is it. The power this rifle generates is lost on a .177 gun, because the bore is too narrow for all the air to flow freely. I went all the way and ordered a .25 caliber. I now know from testing the TalonP air pistol that there are at least two superlative .25-caliber pellets on the market, and I’ll test this rifle with several of the other premium brands just to make sure I’ve tested the right ones.

A long time coming
I’ve owned three Theoben gas spring rifles — four if you count the fact that I converted a .25 to .20 to get more accuracy. And I’ve tested many more Theobens besides those. So, you would think that the RX-2 and I were old friends, but we’re not. This will be the first time that I’ve ever shot this model. Back when it first came out as the Beeman RX in 1990, it was viewed by many U.S. airgunners as a “poor man’s Theoben.” It was priced at about half what a Beeman Crow Magnum (Theoben Eliminator) was selling for, and in my mind it didn’t hold the attraction of the pricier airgun.

But over the years, it evolved through the RX-1 (1992) model and finally into the RX-2 (2001)…and I still didn’t test it. I got questions all the time about the trigger, which is not Weihrauch’s fabled Rekord. Because the trigger must grab the gas piston at a different place, a Rekord will not work in this gun. So, Weihrauch replaced it with a trigger especially designed to work with the gas spring. I never knew how good it was and will only discover as this report unfolds. My test rifle is serial number 1817631.

There have been several stocks to choose from over the years, and the one on this rifle is a laminate. That adds weight to the gun, which the lighter gas piston counteracts to some degree, but in the end the rifle I am testing is slightly heavy — at 10 lbs., 15 oz. with the scope. I say “slightly heavy” because I’m used to the weight of magnum spring rifles; but if the heaviest rifle you’ve ever held is a Winchester model 70, this one will feel like an elephant rifle in comparison. At first, the weight seems oppressive, but wait until you’ve shot the gun a thousand times before wishing it was lighter. That weight adds stability that modern rifles don’t have. Sporting (hunting) rifles of a century ago weighed 10-12 lbs. as a rule, rather than as the exception.

The trigger is entirely different than the Rekord. It is two-stage, and the triggerguard houses the release button of the automatic safety. The Rekord trigger has the safety release button at the back of the receiver. While the safety comes on automatically, you can take it off any time and put it back on without recocking the barrel, as must be done on all rifles having the Rekord trigger. Simply depress the lever in front of the triggerguard (so THAT’S what that lever is!) until you hear the safety click back on. If the click bothers you, such as while hunting, simply depress the safety button until you have pulled the safety release lever all the way, then slowly release the safety button and the gun will be back on safe without making a sound.

The RX-2 trigger is not a Rekord. However, it has an automatic safety that can be reapplied without recocking the rifle: simply pull back on the lever in front of the triggerguard.

I tried the trigger only a few times for today’s report, but that’s enough to tell me this is no Rekord. It is creepy in stage two. Whether or not I can adjust that out remains to be seen. The pull is set at several pounds of effort, so we’ll see if I can change that, as well.

Lock time
Everybody makes a big deal out of the quick “lock time” of this rifle, but all the reports I’ve read prove that the authors who say that don’t actually know what lock time is. The term lock time comes to us from the days of the flintlock, which has a definite time delay from the moment the powder in the pan explodes until the main charge explodes and sends the bullet out the barrel. If the delay is a long one, the shooter would develop a flinch — anticipating the force of the main charge and wincing in response before the gun fires. The result is a movement of the muzzle before the bullet exits, which throws the shot wide. If the gun was a musket that wasn’t expected to hit a man beyond 35 yards, it didn’t matter that much; but with the advent of the Kentucky-style rifle that was capable of very precise shooting out to much longer ranges, lock time became important. And the best gun makers soon learned how to make flintlocks that fired almost instantaneously. Hence, the real importance of lock time.

Today, many airgun authors are saying that this rifle has a fast lock time and is therefore more accurate. Hogwash! In a spring-piston rifle, the term lock time refers to how long it takes from the instant the piston is released by the sear until the piston comes to a dead stop. In that sense, the RX-2 does have a very fast lock time because a gas spring drives a piston faster than a coiled-steel counterpart. But it makes no difference to accuracy.

What they fail to appreciate is the fact that the pellet is still in the barrel when the piston comes to a stop. It takes the pellet several more milliseconds to traverse the barrel and leave the muzzle, and that happens after the lock is finished working. So lock time in a spring-piston airgun is meaningless. But follow-through, which is holding the gun on the target after it has fired, is all-important. If you can do that, you can forget about the supposed advantage of lock time. And the artillery hold is what helps you follow through.

There are no sights on this version of the rifle. The Elite series combo I’m testing comes with a Bushnell Trophy XLT 4-12×40 AO scope mounted in two-piece rings. I’ll report more on the scope when we get to the accuracy test.

A Bushnell Trophy XLT 4-12x40AO scope comes mounted as part of the combo package.

10-for-$10 certificate
As I mentioned, the test rifle was tested in the 10-for-$10 offer, and it was included in the package. So, I got a certificate telling me the velocity the Pyramyd Air technicians got from this rifle using H&N Field Target Trophy pellets weighing 20.06 grains apiece. The test gun ranged from a low of 618.07 f.p.s. on shot 7 to a high of 634.13 f.p.s. on shot 11. There were 13 shots recorded in all. So, the rifle I have generates about 17.4 foot-pounds as it comes from the box. That’ll change with each different pellet I shoot, but it gives you an idea of where we are.

The stock
The laminated stock is stained brown, setting off the black metal parts in an attractive contrast. Though the stock is made for right-handed shooters by virtue of the cheekpiece that’s only on the left side of the butt, the rest of the stock is uniform enough that the gun can also be shot by lefties. The pistol grip is cut-checkered on both sides, and the forearm is smooth.

The finish on the wood is transparent, allowing the laminated grain to show. It’s most attractive, and the brown color adds to the masculine look of the rifle.

The metal
The rifle is a Weihrauch, and that means that the metal parts are finished smooth with an even black finish. The polish isn’t high — just enough to promote pride of ownership, and there’s a contrast between the spring tube that’s polished higher than the barrel. A solid metal muzzlebrake provides a handy place to grab when cocking. The trigger appears to be gold-plated.

The benefits of a gas spring
Gas springs never take a set. They can continue to work at full power even when compressed most of the time. You know that from your experience with cheaper versions of them in the automotive world. So, this is a spring gun that you can leave cocked for many hours at a time without worrying about any degradation of power.

Gas springs also work well in very cold weather because they do not require the level of lubrication that a steel spring would need. Therefore, there isn’t as much grease to stiffen as the temperature drops — leaving the powerplant free to operate at its full potential.

Gas springs do not vibrate nearly as much as steel springs, so having one in a gun is tantamount to having a good tune. They do recoil quite quickly, but that can be offset by holding the rifle as lightly as possible, which is part of the artillery hold anyhow.

The small downside
The greatest fear with a gas spring is that it will develop a leak, leaving the owner high and dry. Where steel springs can be obtained through many commercial channels, gas springs are unitized with the piston and specific to the gun. If one does go bad, it must be repaired or replaced. Theoben gas springs have an enviable track record for reliability in this area, but nothing is perfect. The owner will find gas spring replacement easier than steel spring replacement in most cases; but as I said, he will need to find the right set of parts.

That’s all I’m going to look at for today, but I’ll return to this rifle soon for the velocity test.

Crosman’s new M4-177 multi-pump air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Crosman’s new M4-177 is a smart-looking M4 battle rifle lookalike.

Here we are at accuracy day with the new Crosman M4-177 multi-pump air rifle that you steady readers also know as the M417. Speaking of that, Pyramyd Air sold out of their initial supply of guns and is now selling the second shipment of guns that are still marked M417. If you want one marked in that special way, the time to act is right now.

BBs and pellets
As you know, this multi-pump pneumatic will shoot both BBs and pellets, though not at the same time. Each type of ammunition requires a different loading procedure, so before you start shooting you have to pick one type. I decided to begin with steel BBs. I’ve been testing the gun with Daisy zinc-plated BBs, but during the velocity test I also tried Crosman Copperhead BBs. In the past, Daisy BBs have been more uniform and accurate, but in this gun the Crosman BBs are doing better — at least as far as velocity goes.

I decided to pump the gun five times for each shot. During the initial shooting, which I did at 25 feet, I found the gun shot very high and to the left. Elevation is adjusted at the front sight which, in this case, needed to go higher to bring down the strike of the BB. I had to adjust the front post an estimated eight full turns to lower the BB by the two-plus inches that were needed. The rear sight adjusts via a slotted screw on the left side of the sight, and to move the BBs by one inch required at least four full turns of the screw. As you’ll see, my final impact point is still off by a little, but it’s close enough.

I shot in the standing supported position, using a door jamb for support. While it’s not as steady as shooting off a rest, it’s much steadier than offhand. And the whole point of the test is to find out how well the rifle performs — not how good a shot I am.

Shooting for record
I shot 10-shot groups as always, and I think you will be glad that I did. The Daisy BBs went into a group that measures 1.594 inches between the two farthest centers. Throw out just one shot, and the other nine are in 1.046 inches. That’s very good shooting for BBs at 25 feet.

Ten Daisy BBs are grouped pretty tight for 25 feet. The center of the group is a little high and to the left, but I decided to leave it there.

Next up were the Crosman Copperhead BBs, and I wondered if they would also beat the Daisys at accuracy. After all, this is a Crosman gun!

Beat them they did, with a ten-shot group measuring 1.585 inches across the two farthest centers. This time, though, there was no single stray that enlarged the group, so in general, it was more evenly spread than the Daisy target.

Ten Crosman Copperhead BBs gave this well-distributed ten-shot group measuring 1.585 inches at 25 feet.

By this point, I was definitely in the groove, so I decided to keep on shooting at 25 feet. That’s arbitrary, I know, but I plan to visit this gun one more time, and perhaps then I’ll push the distance out farther.

The M4 on pellets
It seemed like the rifle enjoyed Crosman ammunition, so for the pellet test I used Crosman Premier Super Match wadcutter target pellets. I was still pumping the gun five times for every shot. I did not adjust the sights for the first group, and the results were so encouraging that I forgot to shoot the second five pellets. So, my five-shot group measures 0.449 inches between the two farthest centers. When I saw it I had to adjust the sights just a little more to try to center the group on the next and final attempt.

Five pellets went into this 0.449-inch group at 25 feet. Not a bad start!

The second time, I remembered to reload the clip after the first five shots, so this is a true 10-shot group with pellets from 25 feet in the standing supported position. This 10-shot group measures 0.519 inches between centers, so it’s ever-so-slightly larger than the five-shot group.

Ten pellets went into this 0.519-inch group at 25 feet. This is almost a screamer.

The sights
I find the peep sights on the M4 to be the easiest sights I’ve used in a long time. In fact they remind me of M1 Carbine sights. Yes, the peep holes are large, but that has nothing to do with their precision. All a larger hole does is pass more light, which decreases your depth of field. That makes it more difficult to focus on the front sight post and keep the bullseye in sharp focus as well. But you can light the range to compensate for most of that, which is what I did. The bottom line is that I like these sights a lot.

The trigger, I don’t care for. It’s single-stage and has a long pull that, while at 3 lbs., 8 ozs. is not heavy, it’s also not light. It’s very consistent, though, I’ll give them that.

Bottom line
I resist the tempation of calling this rifle a tackdriver, but it’s surprisingly accurate. More so than any other 760-based rifle I’ve tested or owned.

We’re not done with this airgun just yet. I plan to mount a dot sight on it and give it one more accuracy test at a longer range. But from what I see thus far, it’s a no-brainer. This is one heck of a fine air rifle!

Smith & Wesson M&P R8 BB revolver: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl (Mac) McDonald, unless otherwise indicated

Part 1
Part 2

S&W M&P R8 BB revolver. Photo provided by Pyramyd Air.

Today we look at the accuracy the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver offers. Because this is a BB revolver Mac tested it at 15 feet, but he also tested it at 25 feet as well. So we’ll get a look at what is considered to be a long distance for any BB pistol.

Oddly, Mac found the revolver more accurate when fired double-action and timed-fire. Timed fire means he got off all eight shots in about 20 seconds. It gets its name from a type of handgun shooting in which the competitors are given a certain amount of time to fire all their shots. So perhaps it is best understood as deliberate aimed fire, rather than slow aimed fire.

There was some question last time as to whether the velocity reported was obtained from single-action or double-action fire. Mac says it doesn’t matter because both ways produce the same results. The hammer on double-action releases at the exact same place as it does single-action, so the only real advantage is that in single-action you can slow down. However, that brings up a second controversy.

Several readers wondered about the high number of shots from a single cartridge. Mac advises that he charged the pistol twice and got the same results, so it isn’t s fluke. It really does get 120 good shots per cartridge, as long as the shooting is deliberate.

Many of you commented that the single-action trigger pull seemed very heavy, and at over nine pounds I guess it is. Mac says it doesn’t feel that heavy when you are shooting, but he does admit that the single-action pull is a bit stiff. He thinks that may be linked in some way to this action that is different than most other BB pistols he’s tried.

He felt the light weight of the gun did not hinder him while shooting, but adds that if he were keeping it, he would find ways to increase the weight. Putting lead in the cavities in the grip is one way to do this, and adding accessories is another.

During all the testing Mac used Daisy zinc-plated BBs.

From 15 feet Mac got an eight-shot group that measured 1.2-inches between centers. He shot this group single-action, using Daisy zinc-plated BBs.

The accessory rail under the barrel of the S&W M&P R8 revolver is the perfect place for a compact laser. At BB-gun distances, the dot would be easy to see. Also, Mac feels the extra weight would be nice.

Next he moved back to 25 feet and tried again. This time he tried it in both the single-action and double-action modes.

Shouting single-action the best Mac did was this two-inch group at 25 feet.

When he switched to double action at 25 feet the group tightened to this 1.85-inch size.

One more observation
Mac also noticed that one of the chambers in the plastic BB clip seemed loose. He noticed that there was always one or more fliers in his groups and he thinks this may be the reason why.

Mac feels there is a lot to like in the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver. He likes the realism and the large number of shots he gets from a single CO2 cartridge. For the price he thinks it’s a pretty good buy.

Bulk-fill from 12-gram cartridges: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Guy Roush is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card.

Guy’s winning photo.  He says it’s a “great gun and very realistic feel!”

Part 1

Related reports.
Crosman 114 — Part 1
Crosman 114 — Part 2

This report is getting convoluted. I’m reporting a device I found at the 2011 Roanoke Airgun Expo that allows the use of 12-gram CO2 cartridges to fill Crosman bulk-fill guns, but I used the Crosman model 114 rifle that already had two reports from 2009 before it broke and had to be resealed. So, the report is really about how this bulk-fill device operates on a Crosman model 114 rifle, but the performance of the rifle is also being examined.

Confused? Well, I will try to keep it simple from this point. Today, we’ll look at the velocity you can expect from a Crosman 114 when it is filled by this device.

The Crosman 114 is a .22-caliber, single-shot rifle from the early 1950s. The new bulk-fill device allows you to shoot it with minimal additional equipment.

Mike Reames, the inventor of the device, told me the CO2 in a 12-gram cartridge would not transfer entirely to the gun, so I should expect some gas loss when I disconnected it. There was a loss of gas as he said, so one of the things I want to determine is how many shots can be expected when the gun is charged this way.

When the gas and liquid flows into the rifle during charging, the CO2 reservoir cools immediately. That’s caused by the liquid CO2 flashing to gas as it enters the reservoir. When it does, it absorbs some of the heat of its surroundings — in this case, the metal reservoir tube.

One way to maximize the fill is to cool the gun before filling. When the CO2 enters, it encounters cooler surroundings; and when it flashes to gas, the pressure of the gas is lower. Since the CO2 cartridge is warm in comparison, it’ll have higher pressure and will push more gas and liquid into the gun. This is an old bulk-fill trick that I’ll try to see what difference it makes — if any.

Velocity with a regular fill
First, I filled the rifle in the normal fashion (i.e., at room temperature). The first pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier. As I test the gun, you must keep in mind that Rick Willnecker, who resealed it, has a policy that he will only return a vintage airgun to its specified power. While there are other repair stations that will soup up the powerplant, you can expect Rick to repair the gun so it will shoot like it did when it was new.

Crosman Premiers averaged 535 f.p.s. The spread went from 531 to 539 f.p.s., so a tight 8 foot-second spread. I have owned one other 114 that shot the same pellet 15-20 f.p.s. faster, so this is well within the ballpark.

Next, I tried RWS Hobby pellets. They averaged 549 f.p.s., but that number isn’t a good one. Because after only three shots, I could see the power drop in the traditional fall-off that happens after all the CO2 liquid has turned to gas. So, the rifle had come to the end of its useful charge. You can look at it in several ways, depending on what you’re doing with the gun, but there were anywhere from 13 to 20 good shots on a fill. If you were just plinking, that might stretch to 30 shots.

The first three Hobbys went 563, 558 and 558 f.p.s., respectively. The next one dropped to 551, which is still okay; but after that, each successive shot went slower. After shooting the string of 10 Hobbys, I fired a Crosman Premier pellet and got 499 f.p.s., so the rifle is definitely off the power curve.

The fill from a 12-gram cartridge is from 20 to 30 good shots. Compare that to 50-70 good shots that you will get when the gun is filled by a large bulk tank. I’ve always used the 10-oz. Crosman tank, so that’s what I’m using to get this number.

Chill out
It’s time to chill the rifle and check the fill afterward. I placed the rifle in a chest freezer and left it in there for about an hour.

Let me caution you that what I am doing is considered dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I know that the entire contents of a 12-gram CO2 cartridge cannot possibly overfill this rifle’s reservoir; but if I filled the chilled gun from a normal bulk tank, it could easily be overfilled. The consequences of overfilling an airgun like the 114 that has no pressure release device is that if the gun gets too warm, the gas pressure inside can build to the point that the brass reservoir blows apart in a catastrophic failure. That happens because the cold gun accepts too much liquid CO2; and when it warms up, the liquid has nowhere to go. The gun needs space for the liquid to become gas, to relieve the pressure, which is how it normally operates. If you fill at room temperature, the physical properties of CO2 will take care of stopping the fill at the right spot for you; but a chilled gun will continue to accept more liquid than it should.

However, in this case, the quantity of liquid inside a 12-gram cartridge is less than the gun is built to hold, so all that should happen is that more of the liquid goes into the reservoir. The test for that is to see how many good shots we then get from a fill.

After taking the rifle from the freezer, a layer of frost formed on all the metal parts. The fill was far more complete this time, with just a small puff of gas as the device was disconnected. However, the gun was now very cold and would not perform well until it returned to room temperature, so more waiting.

Two hours later, I shot strings with both Premiers and Hobbys. The first string of five Premiers averaged 515 f.p.s., and I thought something had gone wrong. It ranged from 498 to 522 f.p.s. But right after it, I shot the first string of five Hobbys and they averaged 570 f.p.s., which is where they should be. They ranged from 568 to 574 f.p.s. Next was the second string of five Premiers, which averaged 530 f.p.s., so they were now in the ballpark. The range went from 524 to 534 f.p.s. Then a second string of Hobbys averaged 567 f.p.s. with a range from 564 to 571 f.p.s. That’s the first 20 shots from the gun, and all are good except for a couple at the start.

Another string of five Premiers averaged 523 f.p.s., taking the total to 25 good shots on this fill. However, I could see the power tapering off within this string, which ranged from 519 to 528 f.p.s. From that point on, the velocity fell off in a straight line, which indicates the liquid is used up. So, filling this way extracts everything the CO2 cartridge has to give, which is about 25 good shots. If you were just plinking in the yard, there are probably 10 more useful shots in the gun.

The 114 action
When the Crosman 114 was selling new, I was still a kid who knew nothing about genuine bolt-action firearms. If I’d ever seen a 114 back then, I would have thought it was a conventional bolt-action because that’s what it looks like. However, it’s far from conventional.

A bolt-action firearm has lugs to engage the receiver and lock the bolt closed against the thousands of pounds of force the cartridge puts on it. The 114 bolt hasn’t got any lugs. Instead, a single metal stud engages an inclined plane at the rear of the action to push the bolt forward as the handle is turned down. At the front of the bolt, a hemispherical enlargement mates with a socket in the breech. Contact between these two metal surfaces, controlled by how hard the bolt is pushing forward, seals the breech against gas loss.

This 98 Mauser (firearm) bolt has two lugs at the front that pull the bolt forward and lock it to the receiver.

The 114 breech. There’s a lot to see in this picture. First, notice the enlarged bolt face that mates with the breech to seal gas behind the pellet. The pin on the rear of the bolt below the handle fits into a socket with an inclined plane to push the bolt forward tightly. The knurled wheel beneath the bolt is the power adjuster that all these bulk-fill guns have; and note the rear peep sight that I’ll use for the accuracy test.

The 114 trigger is single-stage and quite hard in the factory form. That can be altered with careful gunsmithing, but nothing can ever make it a great trigger. The simple design mitigates against it.

The safety is a standard crossblock pin that’s set into the stock. Punch in from the left to put the rifle on safe and from the right for fire. Back in the ’50s, this was a very common type of safety on inexpensive guns.

What’s next?
Now that I know the characteristics of the gun and how many shots I can expect, it’s time to test accuracy. I’ll use the peep sight that came with the rifle for this.

As far as the bulk-fill adapter goes, I have to say that it has fulfilled all expectations. In fact, I’m surprised that it works as well as it does — especially when the gun is cooled first. I don’t know if Pyramyd Air will ever carry it. If you want one, contact Mike Reames directly.

Crosman’s new M4-177 multi-pump air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Crosman’s new M4-177 is a smart-looking M4 battle rifle lookalike.

Before we begin, I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope all of you do, as well. Now, on to the report.

This Crosman M4-177 multi-pump air rifle has proven to be one of the most interesting new air rifles of the season; and as a result, I’m looking at it a little more thoroughly. Today is the day we test velocity, and I have a couple other interesting things to share. One I’ll share right now…I bought the test gun. This is a neat rifle, plus this is a future collectible because Crosman will change the name stamped on the gun (from M417 to M4-177) by January 2012.

It’s a multi-pump
As a multi-pump pneumatic, the M4 allows the shooter to pump a maximum of 10 strokes, with the power varying with every new stroke. You probably don’t want to pump less than three times because the power is so low you risk getting a pellet stuck in the barrel; but from three to ten pumps, it gives you the ability to vary the power of the gun according to the situation.

How can you shoot BBs in a rifled bore?
The first question I’ll address is the fact that you can shoot both BBs and lead pellets in this rifle. It has a rifled steel barrel that will tolerate steel BBs without undue wear. Like you, I wondered what the rifling for such a combination gun must look like, so I took a reverse impression of the bore by pushing a Beeman Kodiak pellet from muzzle to breech. The rifling was engraved on the pellet, giving us a look at the bore in reverse.

This is what a Beeman Kodiak pellet looks like after traversing the M4 barrel. The lands that are shown as grooves on this pellet are sharp and high. They’re wider than the grooves.

Notice how much lead has smeared to the back of the lands and sticks out like a small tail as an extrusion at the rear of each channel. This is what barrel maker Harry Pope said was ruinous to accuracy, because it’s influenced by the expanding gasses at the instant the bullet leaves the muzzle. In other words, it’s the equivalent of a poor crown.

Now we know what the inside of the barrel looks like. Does Crosman harden their barrels to prevent wear from the steel BBs? I don’t know, but I would presume that the rifling button will work-harden the steel to a certain extent, and maybe that’s all it takes.

Shooting BBs in the M4
When you shoot the M4, you can choose between BBs and pellets but it’s a choice you must make. If you leave the BB magazine loaded and also shoot pellets, I would imagine there could be a double-feed problem. The BBs are picked up by the magnetic tip of the bolt, while the pellets are simply shoved out of the clip and into the breech when the bolt is shoved forward.

When I refer to the BB magazine, I do not mean the 350-shot BB reservoir. You can leave that full all the time and shoot lead pellets without a problem. I’m referring to the visible BB magazine that can be seen on the left side of the gun.

The visible BB magazine on the left side of the gun is filled from the internal 350-shot BB reservoir. The small switch at the right of this photo controls this magazine. Here it’s shown in the open position, so the magazine can be filled by holding the muzzle down and shaking the gun with a twisting motion. After the magazine is filled, push the switch to the rear to retain the BBs.

The instruction manual says to watch the tip of the bolt when feeding BBs into the breech. I found that to be impossible, because the 5-shot pellet clip blocks the view, and it must be in place to feed BBs. But you can watch the BBs move through the visible magazine window shown in the photo above and know for certain that a BB has been fed. Once I figured this out, there were no difficulties and feeding was reliable.

Velocity with BBs
I started with Daisy zinc-plated BBs because I’ve noted in past reports they’re the most uniform and usually give the highest velocity and the best accuracy. I decided to test the gun on five pump strokes and again on ten. That should give us an idea of what the gun can do.

On five pump strokes, the BB averaged 460 f.p.s., but the velocity spread was large. From a low of 451 f.p.s to a high of 483 f.p.s., the total spread was 32 f.p.s. Normally, I expect to see a 6-10 foot-second spread when shooting with the same number of pump strokes. However, I did see that the more I shot the gun the faster it went, up to a point. I think the pump cup needed to be warmed up through repeated use, even though I shot in 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) temperature, so it wasn’t too cold for the gun. The pump cup just needed to be flexed a bit to warm it and get it sealing all the way.

On ten pump strokes, the gun gave an average of 579 f.p.s. with the same BB. This time the spread went from 566 to 588 f.p.s., so it was still a 22 foot-second spread. Perhaps the hardness (durometer) of the pump cup material is causing such a large spread. That would probably make it a longer-lasting material, so there’s a tradeoff.

Okay, I guess it’s not fair to test a Crosman gun and not use their BBs, so I also tested some Copperhead BBs. On five pumps, the rifle averaged 465 f.p.s. with a spread from 459 to 472. That’s only 13 f.p.s., which is much tighter than the Daisy BBs.

On ten pumps, the gun averaged 581 f.p.s., so it’s also a little bit faster than with Daisy BBs. The spread went from a low of 574 to a high of 592 f.p.s., so a total of 18 f.p.s. The bottom line is that Crosman Copperhead BBs are more consistent in the M4. I guess I’ll have to try both in the accuracy test.

Pumping not that easy
I said in Part 1 that the M4 is easier to pump because the stroke is short. Well, after today’s test, I have to change that. After you pass five strokes, the effort required to pump increases; and by the end of the session, my left hand was hurting from the pump handle. Also, the gun makes quite a racket with every pump stroke because the handle slaps down hard when the stroke is finished.

Velocity with pellets
I tried only a single pellet in the rifle. I tried it on five pump strokes and on ten. The pellet I used was the Crosman Premier Super Match, which is a wadcutter target pellet that’s appropriate to a rifle in this power range. On five pumps, the pellet averaged 429 f.p.s. and ranged from 424 to 433 f.p.s. The velocity spread is much tighter when the projectile fits the bore better.

On high power the same pellet averaged 529 f.p.s. with a low of 508 and a high of 545 f.p.s. That’s a big spread for a pellet in a multi-pump rifle, so I don’t know what is going on.

What about lead balls?
I figured someone would ask about shooting round lead balls out of this rifle so I tried it. First, there was difficulty finding a ball that worked. Since lead balls aren’t magnetic, they won’t feed properly through the BB feeding mechanism, so they have to be treated like pellets and fed from the clip. That eliminates all round balls smaller than a .177 pellet because they won’t stay in the clip long enough to feed into the barrel. The only round ball that worked somewhat was a Beeman Perfect Round, which is no longer made, but is similar to the H&N round ball. These measured 0.176 inches, which is close enough that they stuck in the pellet clip — sort of. When I tried shooting them, the two that were outside the receiver fell out of the clip on the first shot, so they’re not really large enough to use in this gun.

On five pumps, the one shot I fired went 407 f.p.s.; and on ten pumps, the other two shots went 502 and 519 f.p.s. I do not recommend this ammunition in this airgun.

Impressions thus far
Today, I got past the appearance and had a good look at the functioning of the rifle. The fact that the clip has to be indexed by hand for every shot slows you down more than you might imagine. Like I said in the first report, making a multi-pump a repeater sort of misses the mark. The time that it takes to get ready for the next shot negates any speed the repeating mechanism offers.

My test gun is shooting slower than the advertised top velocity of 625 f.p.s. for this rifle. It’s close, at 581 with Copperhead BBs, but not close enough. Maybe the rifle needs to break in, or perhaps the 625 f.p.s. is what a lone maximum shot could potentially be.

Dan Wesson CO2 BB revolver: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

I’m sure many of you have noticed that the podcast has not been updated since May. I apologize for that and hope to stay on schedule with a new podcast every month. Click to read the latest podcast.

The Dan Wesson CO2 BB revolver with the 8-inch barrel is a large and impressive all-metal airgun.

Several of you have mentioned wanting to see a review of this BB revolver, plus the customer reviews are quite good. And I also wanted to see how good it was, so everything came together today.

This Dan Wesson revolver resembles the classic firearm somewhat, but misses the mark of being a perfect replica. However, only a Dan Wesson nut would spot the flaws.

The cylinder latch is made like the one on a Smith & Wesson instead of the traditional Dan Wesson, which would be a flat button located on the left side of the crane. I never liked how that latch worked, which kept me from ever owning a Dan Wesson revolver, and the omission looks like an improvement to me.

It has a safety!
Flying in the face of firearm revolver design, but validating every female British mystery writer ever born, the Dan Wesson revolver actually has a safety catch. So, Agatha Christie was right after all. Pull the cylinder latch straight back and the gun is on safe. The trigger is blocked and the hammer cannot move.

Yes, Virginia, this revolver has a safety catch. Slide the cylinder latch back, and the action locks up.

This revolver comes in 2.5-inch, 4-inch, 6-inch and 8-inch versions…and some come in black and others come in a stainless finish (that Pyramyd Air is calling “silver”). Only the 8-inch version was available when I ordered, so that’s what I’m testing.

Let’s start off with some insight into the Dan Wesson revolver concept and the history of the gun.

Dan Wesson
Dan Wesson was founded in 1968 by Daniel Baird Wesson II, the great-grandson of one of the two founders of Smith & Wesson. His concept for revolvers was the modular approach, which in 1968 was quite new and innovative. And the hallmark revolver that company made was the .357 Magnum model 15-2, which in its highest form was sold in a “pistol pac” that contained the revolver, an extra set of grips, three extra barrels of different lengths that the owner was expected to install, a belt buckle and the wrench and feeler gauge for the barrel and shroud. When I was a young man, this was one of the most coveted handguns on the market and was revered for its strength, beauty and for the facility to change barrels and therefore also control the cylinder-to-barrel gap. The only real reservation I had, as I mentioned, was the cylinder latch that was hard to work and a deal-breaker for me.

The Dan Wesson name passed through a number of hands since the founder’s death in 1978, and today they produce several other models that are not as distinctive as this revolver system. So, the BB gun we’re now testing is supposed to copy the original firearm that had interchangable barrels, though this one does not.

The BB gun
Rejoice, fellow airgunners, for this is an all-metal revolver! You pay for that realism — and it’s delivered. Nothing on the outside of the gun but the grips is anything but metal. Still, the gun is very light for having such a long barrel. It weighs 2.29 lbs. or about a full pound less than a typical firearm with the same length barrel.

The cylinder is mounted on a real crane that swings out to the left side when the cylinder latch is depressed and the cylinder is pushed out. Twenty years ago, such realistic features were only dreams for airguns and even for some lower-priced rimfires. Since it does swing out, you’ll need to restrain yourself from flipping it closed like you see on TV, as nothing will ruin the mechanism faster.

This revolver has a real crane that allows the cylinder to pop out for loading.

The cylinder revolves freely when the gun is not cocked, being restrained only by a spring-loaded barrel that pops into a mating recess in the front of each chamber, just like the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver that Mac is testing for us. The bolt at the bottom of the frame comes into play only when the trigger is pulled, so the gun locks solid when fired either single- or double-action. In this respect, it’s not unlike a suicide special revolver of the late 19th and early 20th century.

The gun comes with a second set of six “cartridges” that hold the BBs and a speedloader to load them into the cylinder. The speedloader does not do the job like its firearm component. The cartridges are not held in the loader at all and will fall out if it is tipped past level, so it’s more for looks than for function. You can’t carry a loaded speedloader in your pocket the way you can with a firearm speedloader. However I did find it very convenient for unloading the cylinder, as all the cartridges fall back out into the loader when the gun is tipped up. Since there is relatively low pressure running through each cartridge, they do not swell when fired as firearm cases do.

The speedloader with six extra cartridges comes with the revolver. Also included is the accessory rail and installation wrench.

The sights are a post on a ramp at the front with a white dot in the top center and a traditional square notch at the rear. I find them easy to acquire, and good for precision aiming. I hope the gun is as accurate as most of the reviews claim. The rear sight is adjustable in both directions with a flat-bladed screwdriver.

Accessory rail
The revolver is also provided with an accessory rail that takes the place of the rear sight. You can mount a dot sight on your handgun with this rail.

The double-action trigger-pull ranges from 10 lbs., 8 oz. to 11 lbs., 8 oz. and is stiff and creepy. It stacks towards the end. As I recall, the double-action pull of the firearm was also heavy and stiff. The single-action pull breaks between 7 lbs. and 7 lbs., 13 oz. and is reasonably crisp. Though it’s a trifle too heavy for the absolute best work, it’s very usable.

One look at the manual tells me this revolver was made by an airsoft manufacturer. The details are sparse and the print quite small, with line drawings to accompany the important points. Older owners will have to use a magnifying glass to read it, but I don’t suppose they’re the target consumer for this revolver.

What’s next?
Well, if I were Full Ruler and Controller, I would make up some sort of pistol pac for this revolver. That’s such a great idea, and you know that owners could never tolerate having an empty slot in a case for their favorite airgun!

Since the barrels cannot be changed, I would include a nice miniature holographic dot sight, two full speedloaders with six additional cartridges (24 cartridges in all when you include the ones in the gun), some kind of neat case for BBs, a belt buckle and safety glasses.

I’ll show the BB cartridges and how they’re loaded in detail in Part 2 when I test velocity. For now, back on your heads — the break is over!

How I shoot

by B.B. Pelletier

Several of you have asked to see how I shoot; and with Christmas coming soon, I thought it was time to show you. There are several things I use that you may want to see under your tree this year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, they’re still valid things for every shooter’s wish list.

MTM portable shooting bench
Edith and I campaigned to get Pyramyd Air to carry the MTM shooting table, because several readers said they would like to own one. It’s inexpensive and light (14 lbs., 9 oz.) and most of all — portable! I have different shooting ranges in many places, including a couple right here in the house. No matter where I go, indoors or out, this bench is what I use. Even at my rifle range, where the benches are made of concrete and are completely immobile, I choose to use this one and I’ll tell you why: Because I can put it anywhere I want!

Is it a bench or a table? Well, in shooting terminology, it’s always called a shooting bench, even though you don’t sit on it. But MTM chose to call theirs a table, so that’s what I will call it from this point on.

The MTM shooting table when it’s collapsed. It’s a small 14 lb., 9 oz. package that fits flat in the bed of a pickup truck, or stands on the floor of the rear passenger compartment of a mid-sized sedan.

The legs unfold in seconds and the table stands ready to shoot. With this table, you can make a range anywhere — indoors or out.

As long as I have this table, I can make use of almost any space as a range when I want to. If I show up at my club and find all the benches taken, I set this one up on one side of the line and, presto — there’s room for one more.

The table is very light, and the legs fold flat underneath the top for transportation. I did have to tighten all the nuts that hold the hardware together, but I probably set up this table about five times a week and have been doing so for going on two years, so a little maintenance is normal.

I don’t just use the table for benchrest shooting. When I want to shoot pistols it serves as a handy table for guns, ammo and any accessories I need.

If you want something to criticize, the table is a little wobbly. It isn’t steady enough to hold a spotting scope; but when I’m in position behind a rifle, I push against it and nothing moves. Also, I have to slant the table to the left to fit behind it, where a good shooting bench has a top designed with a cutout at the back to allow you to sit next to it. This one won’t support your weight sitting on it, so consider that before ordering. But the good points far outweigh the bad, and this is one of the essential pieces of equipment in my shooting kit.

I’ve had several shooters ask me where they could get a table like this, because at the range you have to use what they have. On our 100-yard range, the benches are all oriented wrong, because the 100-yard berm is angled off to the left and the benches were installed for the 200-yard range. Since most of them are cemented in place, the shooters can’t do much about it, but I can. And now anyone can, because Pyramyd Air now carries this shooting table.

MTM Predator shooting rest
Several of you spotted the MTM Predator shooting rest in my older reports and asked me about it. The truth is that I was ambivalent about this rest until I tried two more expensive ones, including a Caldwell Lead Sled. This one does everything they do except retard the movement of the rifle. If you need a rest to absorb recoil, this isn’t the one to choose; but if all you need is something to hold the rifle in place as you shoot, I can’t think of anything better. All the super-tight groups you’ve seen me shoot were shot from this rest or off a sandbag.

The MTM Predator shooting rest works for both rifles and pistols. It’s lightweight and quick to set up and adjust. Here it’s shown with the tail piece collapsed.

And here the tail piece is extended. It extends in seconds to accommodate rifles and carbines of different lengths. Or remove it altogether and the rest is for pistols.

A Savage 1920 bolt-action rifle lays in the rest. As you see, the butt is free to move and must be held against your shoulder. Slide the gun forward and back to lower or raise the sights on the target.

Some rifle rests hold the rifle entirely, with the butt held in a socket that takes all the recoil. I’ve used these rests and don’t care for them, because they push me to the side and make sighting more difficult. That’s probably why I like this MTM rest so much. With this rest, the butt of the rifle rests against your shoulder and you absorb all the recoil. And you have more control over the rifle.

Also, most high-end rifle rests have some lateral movement adjustment built in, so you can move the gun from side to side. The MTM rest doesn’t have this. If you need to move to the side, you simply slide the rest on the shooting bench. It’s so lightweight that it’s no problem to move — even when there’s a rifle on it.

If you’ve never used a rifle rest before, the main feature you’ll like is the elevation adjustment. Turning the adjustment wheel allows the rest to move either up or down in very small increments that equate to about one-thousandth of an inch. Combine the adjustment wheel with moving the rifle fore and aft, and you have very fine control over the elevation. And it’s repeatable! Shot after shot will be targeted on the same aim point once the rest is properly adjusted.

Turn the thumbwheel for vertical adjustment. The weight of the rifle will cause it to lower as you turn. The black thumbscrew is to lock the elevation adjustment.

New airgunners take note
A word to the new airgunners is required. If you shoot spring-piston airguns, you cannot shoot directly off a rest like this one and expect to be accurate. You need to lay the rifle on the flat of your hand and rest the hand on something to support the weight. The Shooter’s Ridge Monkey Bag Gun Rest would be ideal.

A stapler!
Pyramyd Air doesn’t sell these, but I carry one all the time and have worn one out over the past 40 years. You need the stapler to fasten your targets to the backers at the range. If you don’t want to walk an extra 200 yards and anger the other shooters, put extra staples in your pocket the moment you get to the range so you can load the stapler when it runs out — because it always happens when you’re downrange (think about it)! Forget the fancy electric staplers, because they don’t work as well on heavy wood and rubber backers as a manual model. Unless you have arthritis, use a manual stapler.

A stout stapler is a must. Forget the electric ones and just use one like this.

Believe it or not, there are times when a small pair of binoculars comes in very handy at the range. A month ago a buddy of mine bagged a large bobcat on our range because he was able to identify it under the trees while shooting with iron sights. In some countries like Germany, it’s considered extremely bad form to use a scope sight in place of binoculars. Think about it — under that scope there’s a firearm!

Well, that’s about it. These are the essentials I always take to every range. Of course, I carry insect repellant and hand warmers, depending on the season, but these four items are with me all the time. Other than my spotting scope, this is how I shoot.