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Education / Training Haenel 311 target rifle: Part 2

Haenel 311 target rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The Haenel 311 is the world’s only bolt-action, spring-piston 10-meter target rifle.

Let’s look at the velocity of my Haenel 311 target rifle. Because of the way it cocks, this rifle is low-powered. It isn’t possible to put a long-stroke piston or a stout mainspring in the mechanism when the rifle is cocked by pulling back on a three-inch bolt handle. You don’t pull it straight back, either. The base of the handle pivots like a fulcrum, and the handle rocks back to pull the piston into the cocked position. As I mentioned in Part 1, it’s so difficult to cock that the gun is destined for adults, only.

However, a short piston stroke and a weak mainspring combine to give very low velocity. Since this is a target rifle, velocity doesn’t matter. But this wouldn’t be the gun to choose as an all-day plinker. Get a Diana 27 for that, or any one of the Haenel breakbarrels. Save the 311 for its intended purpose.

If it sounds like I’m making excuses for the gun, that’s not what I want to do. I just want the reader to understand it in the right context.

Since this rifle has a leather piston seal, I dropped several drops of oil into the loading tap, then closed it and stood the rifle on its butt for several days before this test. For those who are new to airgunning, leather seals need lots of oil to do their jobs. Synthetic seals need a lot less oil, and it needs to be silicone chamber oil so it won’t detonate with the high heat it can generate.

In a rifle of the 311’s power, you can use plain old household oil for the seals, because the rifle doesn’t generate that much heat. But using silicone chamber oil won’t hurt anything, so that’s what I used. And there’s one additional reason for oiling the gun before shooting. The loading tap has to have some clearance to be able to move and do its job. When you oil the gun at the tap, some oil gets on the tap itself and helps to seal it when the rifle fires.

Velocity test
A note to the new reader. I test rifles with a range of pellets appropriate to that rifle. There will be a weight spread among the pellets I use, so you can gauge the power of the gun from what I use. But bear in mind that some pellets will work better in certain guns and the lighter pellet won’t always be the fastest. I also won’t test a gun with a pellet that I deem inappropriate for the gun, such as Beeman Kodiak heavyweight domed pellets for this target rifle. For a 10-meter target rifle, I’ll test with wadcutters since they’re the only pellets that are legal to use in a 10-meter match.

Let’s get right to it. The first pellet I tested was the Gamo Match wadcutter. This pellet used to be a viable and inexpensive pellet for target guns, but the design was changed a few years ago. While it’s still inexpensive, it doesn’t perform as well as it used to in many guns. Still, I thought it was worth a try.

This pellet averaged 462 f.p.s., but the spread was quite high — going from 439 to 479 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the rifle puts out 3.66 foot-pounds with this pellet. The wide velocity spread makes me think this one won’t be that accurate, but we’ll see.

Next I tried RWS Hobby pellets. At just seven grains weight, they should be among the fastest lead pellets in this rifle. Hobbys averaged 490 f.p.s. in the 311, and the spread went from 478 to 497 f.p.s. That’s tighter than the Gamo Match. At the average velocity, the energy developed at the muzzle was 3.73 foot-pounds. Sometimes, Hobbys are very accurate in certain guns and are worth trying in this one.

The last pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. At 7.56 grains, you’d think they’d be slower than the Hobbys that weigh a half grain less, but these pellets averaged 492 f.p.s. in the 311, and the spread went from 480 to 501 f.p.s. They’re clearly faster and more efficient. At the average velocity, they produce 4.06 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Seeing the efficiency of this pellet gave me an idea. What if I used a pellet seater to iron out the skirts of this pellet? What would happen to the velocity then? I say that because a taploader tends to allow some air to blow past the pellets before they’re blown into the bore. Enlarging the skirts is a possible way to minimize this.

I tried enlarging the pellet skirts with the ball end of a pellet seater. However, the results surprised me. Instead of boosting velocity, this knocked it back to an average 474 f.p.s. for the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. However, the extreme spread ran only from 472 to 478 f.p.s., so the overall velocity was a lot tighter from shot to shot.

The bottom line is that the Haenel 311 is a target rifle and nothing more. Because of the design, there’s no way to soup it up for greater performance; and as I noted in Part 1, this is a rifle you want to stay out of.

Next time we’ll look at the accuracy of this Cold Warrior.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

62 thoughts on “Haenel 311 target rifle: Part 2”

  1. B.B.

    Are tap loaders generally a bit “loose” on velocity spreads, or is this just a case of “this rifle” ?

    I also see that you have found some things that a lot of shooters would not expect about pellet fit and weight. Too many people like to make up “rules” without consulting the particular gun. It leads to some surprises.

    But….let’s see how it shoots.


    • DaveUK,

      What a steamroller! Two counts of possessing a bullet, eh? They could come to my office and find over 2,000 rounds (“bullets”), and that’s not even where I store my ammo. There’s just a drawer of .22 rimfire rounds that would get me crossways.

      As for the “weapons” the man had, I can just see a gang-banger holding an Enfield .38 revolver or a Traintor sideways and trying to intimidate anyone.

      Gotta laugh, because if not, there’s only crying for the nation that was once the center of fine arms manufacturing for the world.


    • It’s sad and terrifying that your government has been allowed to legislate gun ownership to this extreme given your history. Sad for you. Terrifying for me since in my view the USA is on the precipace of this rabbits’ hole of legislation too.

      The idea that over regulation of guns keeps a society safer is absurd. This flies in the face of history.


      • Kevin,
        I think we are looking at it all wrong, yet some people are not. Any reasonable person can see that criminals will still get guns when the law abiding ones can’t. Therefore, the impetus behind the anti-gun laws is not to protect the public but to disarm the nation. This confuses me because I don’t know what the reason is for disarming the nation.

    • Dave,

      SAD, just SAD….. Not knowing the rest of the story, but able to read between the lines, the guy was railroaded. A pile of valid licenses, and sent to jail for ?! AIRGUNS!?!? That entire court and its officers should be fired for stupidity and wasting taxpayer’s time and money!! AAAAHHHhhhgggggg!!!


      • Well, once long ago we were Limeys too at least on paper, and we came up with a solution fort that kind of Behemoth government riding roughshod over us ….. Oh wait, we hadn’t given up our guns. Nevermind!

    • DaveUK

      If the government doesn’t protect us from the ruthless onslaught of airgun related violence, who will? I hope those constables got a ticker tape parade for such bravery.

      Looks like things have all gone down the crapper since you left the Met.

      Are you familiar with this guy, Mick Shepherd?


      He was held for 10 months, then released with no charges. 10 months! You must check out his airgun collection. When you are done with that, take a gander at his firearms collection. Here is a link to the airguns to get you started.


    • DaveUK, I’m very puzzled about this story. I don’t doubt that something happened, the guy got arrested, and then sent down. The puzzle is why every story on the Web about it traces back to the single Daily Mail link you posted. If there were some substance you would think that at least the Telegraph would have covered it, and maybe that the Guardian or Independent would be coming down on the guy’s head.

      Why the loud silence?

      It’s true that the guy had a lot of firearms, and even some of those No-No-No-in-Britain hideous handguns. And probably also that he had some very powerful air rifles. But what in heck did the judge been by “modifications” to the air guns? Adding (horrors!) telescopic sights?

      We both know that cops sometimes nail an offender on a provable minor charge (Capone on tax fraud, for example) when they know but can’t prove in court something far worse. Could this be one? The guy doesn’t look all that savory in the paper’s mug shot.

      It does show the extreme difficulty of complying with the UK rules on air gun power, since they can test any gun with any pellet that will fit, and if you’re over the limit, you’re screwed. Maybe piston displacement, and compression ratio, would be better measures. Better for gun owners, I mean.

  2. Dave said, “Well here we have it.They do Jail airgunners in the UK.”

    That piece seems to verify that insanity—rather than royalty—reigns supreme in Britain. Tom

    • There was recently a shooting resulting in death and injury at the funeral of a lad who died due to ‘gang’ activity.
      There has been a complaint lodged against the Police that they had intel there would be trouble at the funeral but did nothing to prevent it.
      I’m not really suprised the Police did nothing.Last time they did there were riots.
      Maybe that is where us generaly law abiding folk are going wrong.We need to remind our servants(Police,politicians)who is boss by having a riot.
      Merely suggesting this on an internet forum is enough to get me banged up judging by recent events but frankly I’m past caring.

      • No Dave, what you and the rest of the law abiding English need to do is start some type of political organization with enough clout that politicians that run for election will listen to you. Case in point, the NRA here, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Susan B Komen (breast cancer survivors) and so on.

        Until you let politicians know what you think about the laws and write to them and get others, the current situation will remain status quo.

        Fred PRoNJ

        • Fred PRoNJ:
          Your are right but this is the situation over here.
          Our national political system is now a farce,Just giving the illusion of democracy.
          We have been tied into the European Union project,where any political party or lobby group which is not singing from the EU song sheet is marginalised,ignored or overruled.
          Whoever the populations of EU nation states vote for,they end up with Brussels and its political agenda.
          We recently had a petition forcing our politicians to debate and vote whether the British public should have a referendum on our EU membership.(In or out)
          The politiclans of all parties bent over backward to make sure the ‘No’ vote carried the day.
          Britain and Europe is not only economicaly bankrupt but politicaly too.
          That is why I think conventional debate is becoming pointless Fred.

          Sorry to be way off topic Gents.Best I sign off for tonight.

      • DaveUk,

        When a country devolves into chaos, the anti-gunners will quickly run to the people who have guns and beg them for protection and help. People who seek security haven’t got a clue how to get it, yet they want to tell everyone else how to go about it.


        • Here’s a rather good article (at least the first part then I just read on to the comments which are *very* insightful I think) on “end-times” weaponry.


          Have a .22 rifle, can be an old bolt-action Winchester 69 for instance.

          Next is get a .357 revolver, Ruger SP101, Speed/Security Six, etc.

          Next get one of those lever-actions that shoot .357 also, OR, get a Mosin-Nagent. The .357 lever for 100-200 yards, the Mosin good 2X as far, depends on the kind of country you live in.

          Get AIRGUNS – Red Ryder bb gun for the most fun and training, airsofts for training drills, pump-up or break-barrels for hunting, etc. No they don’t mention these in more than passing but hey this is an airgun site. You can’t hunt much beyond sparrows with a Red Ryder but they sure are fun. Get the Daisy BBs. Some kind of airgun that can do some hunting is good, my Gamo Delta is marginal, for instance. Something on the order of a Gamo Big Cat, not that gun but that level of power, is good. Something you can take rabbits and squirrels with. The gun that was talked about in this site, where there was a video showing a guy take a turkey with it (.22, head shot, poor turkey thrashed around a bit but he was harvested OK) would be a good choice and in fact I should try to look up what that gun is myself.

          Anyway here’s the link!


          • flobert

            After buying one Red Ryder, I couldn’t help but buy another a couple of months later when they came out with the metal under-lever version. At 10 yards, plinking cans can’t be more fun then with old blue.

            On the subject of the essential guns list, a Remington 870 pump-action shotgun should be added. As far as airguns are concerned, I would want an ‘old fashioned’ springer thank you very much.

            • SL,
              You’re “good people”. I worry about those that can’t shoot or enjoy a RR — take themselves too seriously :)! Which one has the metal lever or did they change them all?

              Springer is my choice for small game after the crash, also; can store more ammo than even .22LR and the stealth factor could be important. Also, I’ve never seen anything on one that couldn’t be made/repaired with simple tools and scrap (although I might have to forge weld or braze if I can’t fire up a welder). I better stop now…always get too excited thinking about that type of situation. How about a series: “Junkyard Airguns” where contestants are given a busted B3 (or R1 or whatever) and their pick of a junkpile, ending with a shooting match!

              • BG,

                Junkyard airguns sounds like a fun game! A couple of classes of contestants. Pro-builders, tradesmen, and amateurs. Prizes awarded in each category for accuracy, velocity, ft/lbs energy, etc.


              • BG_Farmer

                I don’t know if all the new RRs are like that or not. I found mine at Wallyworld. “Now with metal cocking lever!” is written proudly on the package. It was on sale too. $18? I would have to be a fool to pass on that.

  3. I have some off-topic questions…

    The R9 “Elite” comes packaged with a Bushnell Banner 4-12×40 scope (1″ tube).
    I can buy the R9 (standard) and a Leapers 3x12x44 Side Focus scope (30mm tube) for the same price.

    Purely on specs, the Leapers looks better (bigger objective, side focus). But Bushnell has a higher quality reputation for both optical quality and “returning to zero”. But the Bushnell reputation may not be relevant to their entry level (Banner) scopes…

    I’ll be using the scope for Hunter Field Target, and envision finding the target on 4x, and then zooming in, and adjusting the parallax to find the range – in the woods where the light is a bit dim.

    Does either scope hold it’s “range vs click” settings, or “return to zero” more consistently than the other ?

    Is either scope more clear or bright than the other ? (ie: work better for range-finding ?)


    • JohnG10

      The side focus Leapers will be superior for range finding, as it allows you to stay on target better. I have 2 Bushnell Banner scopes, and while the glass is clear and bright, I prefer Leapers/Centerpoint scopes overall. Once I emerge from my financial lull, I plan to upgrade to the Hawke or Burris line of scopes.

      • Thanks SL.
        In Hunter Field Target, shooters sit on a bucket and rest the rifle on a bipod for most of the shots. Would you still prefer the Leapers over the Bushnell for that type of situation ?

        • JohnG10

          Yes I would. Reaching to the front of the objective bell to focus (rangefind) will pull you off target. Using a side focus is infinitely easier, in my experience. Also, on the scopes that allow it, you can add a large sidewheel to the focus knob. This allows for much more precise adjustments. I can manipulate the sidewheel with the thumb of my rear hand, without losing sight of the target. I can’t emphasize how much easier this is.

          In addition, you can put a piece of tape around the circumference of the sidewheel, and mark exactly your distances instead of relying on the markings of the scope which are likely to be off, no matter what scope you buy. This is what many FT shooters do. Whatever you decide, I think you are going to have a blast, shooting hunter field target.


    • JohnG10,

      Asking which of these two scopes will be better at rangefinding is like asking whether a Corvette pace car can keep pace with NASCAR racers. It can’t, in case anyone doesn’t know. Nor are either of these two scopes any good at rangefinding.

      Here is the problem with both of them. To determine range to a target with a scope, you need extremely sharp optics and high magnification to see small objects at distance. These two scopes will work fine determining ranges out to about 25 yards — which is exactly what you don’t need. You can determine range out to 25 yards on your own, and a miss at that range that’s due to range isn’t that upsetting (except when it is a miss very close to the gun).

      You need to be able to determine ranges from 25 to 55 yards, and the type of scopes that can do that cost a lot of money.

      So I would advise that you just buy the scope you like, between these two, and lay the rangefinding criterion aside.


      • I’d probably go so far as to suggest that using the distance markings on adjustable objective scopes for “range finding” is a perversion of the purpose. To me, the AO scale was meant to /set the parallax/ based on pre-determined ranges.

        Consider cameras (if you can find one with a distance scale on the lens). The standard lens (50mm focal length on 35mm film cameras) typically had distance markings looking something like: 3, 5, 10, 30, infinity — and that was in FEET. The distance one rotated the lens to focus between 30-infinity was a small angle.

        In the range of airgun usage, archery rangefinders may be most suited (but would they be legal)
        (has half yard read-out, but only rated to 100 yards)
        (1 yard read-out, to 100 yard in “bow” mode, to extreme rifle range in rifle mode)

        Bushnell seems to have lots of features regarding the display data, but sloppier clock than Nikon (+/1 1 yard vs half yard increments for Nikon).

        (The unit I own is more golf related — read out is in units of 2 yards or so, which is likely not precise enough for airgun)

      • Thanks BB.

        Good to know I won’t be able to rangefind very well at 12X.

        But I still need a scope for Hunter FT (which is restricted to 12X usage). I could get a 8×32 and turn it down to 12X, but I figure why pay for magnification I’m not allowed to use, and have to deal with the heavier scope on offhand shots (I may also shoot in the Offhand division at DIFTA).

        So which $150-ish 12X scope do you think gives the sharpest image in a shady forest – AND still holds it’s zero reliably ? (This would be so simple, if I could just look through the scopes to compare them…)


  4. The picture of this fine old air rifle is reminding me of a question I had about the Tyrolean stock. If I’m remembering properly, it was so effective that it got banned from competition. What was its secret? Was it some kind of chin gun? Why isn’t everyone who doesn’t compete swarming all over this stock design? I’m reminded of a martial arts instructor speaking shortly after the creation of mixed martial arts in the 90s. He said, “Let’s look at what is banned in these competitions–hair-pulling, eye-gouging, groin kicking–and focus on that! Those must be the most effective techniques!”

    Victor, that was an interesting comment about not jerking the sight picture onto the bull and allowing the wobble area to be your friend. Partly on B.B.’s advice, I tried to get away from hitting the target on the fly and allowing the sights to dwell just a little bit on target. Recently, I’ve discovered that you can let them dwell even longer that I had supposed, and the sights remain steady. Now, to coordinate the trigger squeeze with that moment.

    Wulfraed, interesting objections to the Isosceles Triangle hold. It’s true that your left shoulder is not bladed forward, but on the other hand, your left arm is not bent either. You should be able to get your left hand in position for the Isosceles even if it means bending your right arm. The key feature of the Isosceles for me is symmetry, not locked elbows.

    Edith, there must have been something tying you to Maryland with the circumstances you are describing. Baltimore has been a tough place to live since at least the Civil War. However, the behavior described there is better than New Orleans where the police drove cars off a dealer’s lot when Katrina was approaching.

    A question for survivalists. If things go to pot, would you recommend establishing a secure base–or “fortressing”–or moving between bases? As it shows in the film I Am Legend, no matter how secure your base, once the zombies find you, they will get in. There is the story of a Japanese soldier in the Philippines who kept up the fight for 30 years after WWII, and he kept moving between his bases. However, he had the Philippine jungle to hide in. Anything less, would make you vulnerable while moving.


    • Matt,

      Moderation in everything. A low-recoiling airgun or even firearm with a Tyrolean cheekpiece THAT FITS THE SHOOTER is a delight when shooting offhand, because it fixes the face in the same place shot after shot. But put one on a Beeman R1 and you get a new definition of hell. The recoil will give you a headache.

      If you look at real schuetzen rifles (they are 8.15 X 46 rimmed — or sort of a metric version of the 30-30 cartridge) you will see that there aren’t many that have a fully cupped cheekpiece. Most are flat on top, even though they rise up far from the stock. That’s to cut down on the transmission of recoil.


    • Matt61,

      Re: “Why isn’t everyone who doesn’t compete swarming all over this TYROLEAN stock design? ”

      Another reason that Tyrolean stocks aren’t very common is cost. Because of the typical drop from butt to forend for proper eye alignment and because of the additional thickness necessary for a traditional face plate (deep dish for repeatable cheek weld) you need a stock blank that is much wider and taller than is traditional for stock making. I think macarri’s blanks started out at 4″ ? X 12″? This stock grade material is now very costly and becoming harder to find.

      In my opinion all tyrolean stocked airguns are currently bargain priced especially one with a macarri custom attached since he designed his stocks oversize so the individual shooter has enough material to shape it for an exact fit.


  5. Maybe I can shed some light on the trepidation of the Maryland police that Edith described. While trolling the literature of self-defense where one comes across all sorts of things, I found this item. A guy, attempting to get at “real” fighting as opposed to techniques, undertook to document real life encounters in his home city of Baltimore. It sounds like he had plenty of material to choose from. Once story in particular caught my attention. A security guard at a small store observed a tall young woman shoplifting. When he intercepted her on the way out, she not only refused to comply but started fighting with such ferocity that the security guard was pulled to the ground and found himself battling for survival. The citizenry of Baltimore in the store found this highly amusing and gathered around and made comments such as, “Hey, if you were married, you would be doing her laundry.”

    Finally a policeman showed up who was short but “built like a bodybuilder” and hit the woman in the head with his nightstick. She looked up, annoyed, then she grabbed his neck and did a “one-handed Darth Vader elevator grab” lifting him off his feet and throwing him aside. This made the crowd pipe down. Six or seven back-up officers arrived and cast aside all inhibition. They were giving her “two-handed stick strokes to the head” (which I think is illegal). But she “stayed strong and was giving it right back to them.” Finally, they handcuffed her to a stretcher and she broke the handcuffs before she was hauled away.

    Well, this doesn’t excuse police inaction, but you could see them having second thoughts when called to respond–at least in Baltimore….


  6. Fred,

    Many rifles from that timeframe had adjustment screws through the triggerguard. BSAs and Dianas are two examples.

    I do think because the gun isn’t marked well that it is a foreign knockoff.

    Shok — what country do you like in?


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