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Ammo The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 5

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle
My 18-year-old Beeman R1 with its Maccari custom stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope is a thing of beauty.

Some days, you get the bear — and some days the bear gets you. This was one of those latter days.

For weeks, my Beeman R1 has stood quietly in the corner of my office, awaiting the time when I would remove the Vortek muzzlebrake and shoot tight groups with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. If you recall, in Part 4 I was trying to show how the adjustment of the Vortek muzzlebrake affected the groups, but all my groups were pretty lousy. So, I said I would set the gun aside for awhile and think about it.

Several readers responded with advice to remove the muzzlebrake because the groups looked like some of the pellets were touching the brake on their way out. So, that was what I finally resolved to do — remove the brake and shoot some groups without it. Ha, ha! Man plans, God laughs!

Removing the brake
Sometimes, things are harder than they should be, and this was such a time. The Vortek brake was held on the barrel by three Allen screws. Two of them came off easily, and of course the third one had a stripped head. I tried cutting off the end of the Allen wrench and dressing it flat, so it fit the screw head perfectly, but that was how I discovered that the head was stripped. I drilled a larger hole in the screw and used a tiny easy-out to pull the screw. To my credit, everything worked perfectly and the screw came right out, but I was now about an hour into my test time.

Once the brake was off the barrel, I saw that two of the three screws had managed to miss the aluminum shim inside that protects the finish of the barrel. And now my R1 barrel is scarred at the muzzle. So the Vortek brake will not be going back on this gun! I have another brake that will hide the deep scratches, but for today’s test I left the barrel bare.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle scarred barrel
The underside of my R1 barrel with the muzzlebrake removed. Thanks, Vortek!

There was no indication that any pellets had touched the inside of the muzzlebrake. Still, the brake was off, and now it was time to test.

I was so confident that it would group with the brake off that it never occurred to me there would be a problem. I did check the zero at 12 feet because the brake added a lot of weight to the barrel. The point of impact could have changed a lot, but it didn’t. The pellet was still close enough to the aim point that I knew I could back up to 25 yards and let fly with confidence.

The first pellet fired from 25 yards landed above the one fired at 12 feet, which I expected. The next pellet hit close by the first, but then the trouble started. After 10 shots, I had a vertical line instead of a group. The rifle was stringing its shots up and down. It was also shooting to the right, so I dialed in some left correction and moved to another target.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle HN Baracuda target1
The lowest hole was shot at 12 feet from the target. The rest of the pellets were shots from 25 yards. Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets printed this 1.078-inch group.

The next three shots after scope correction gave me a group larger than one inch! The rifle wasn’t shooting like I remembered. Up to this point, I’d experimented with my off hand in a glove. But all I did was confirm that the R1 is a twitchy rifle.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle HN Baracuda target2
Three shots in 1.167 inches! I didn’t need to finish this group to know it was a bust.

I removed the glove. Then I experimented with the position of my off hand back by the triggerguard and also forward under the cocking slot. The “groups” got no better. I guess pattern would be a more accurate description for what I was shooting.

Tighten the stock screws?
At this point, I checked all the stock screws. They were all tight, but the barrel pivot bolt was somewhat loose, so that was tightened. Then, I returned to shooting

And it came to me! All this time I’d been shooting H&N Baracuda Match pellets. What if my R1 likes another pellet better? I switched to 15.9-grain JSB Exact domes and was sure the problem was solved. It was for the first two shots, and then the rifle went crazy again. Even the JSBs were being thrown all over the place!

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle JSB target1
Where shall I begin? The first two holes in the white, at 5 o’clock, looked promising, but the third shot through the 10-ring did, also. Too bad they were all with the same hold! As were the final three shots at the bottom of the paper. This “pattern” measures 1.347 inches between centers. I was blowing up!

Frustration sets in
In utter frustration, I rested the rifle directly on the sandbag, thinking I couldn’t really do any worse than I had been. And of course that was when it shot the best it did all day! But the group is still a vertical line, and I know the gun still isn’t responding.

Beeman R1 breakbarrel air rifle JSB target2
The best group of the session (though hardly a good one) was with the rifle rested directly on the bag. It measures 0.88 inches between centers. How’s that for a slap in the face of “Mr. Artillery Hold”? Something is wrong, and I just haven’t found it yet.

There are some things I’m thinking about. The barrel probably needs cleaning. It’s been several years since I cleaned it. When a gun starts shooting erratically after it’s been doing well, cleaning is always the first thing that should be done.

The scope is a very old one, and maybe it’s malfunctioning. It’s been on many air rifles in the 17 years I’ve owned it. Maybe it’s time to put it out to pasture.

I haven’t tried Crosman Premiers in this rifle, yet. Back when I wrote the R1 book, Premiers were the best pellets in the gun.

The book! That’s right — I wrote a book about the Beeman R1. And, not just any R1; this one! I’m supposed to know how to shoot this rifle!

Like I said at the start — some days the bear eats you. This was one of those days.

My plan is to set the R1 aside for a little while and consider all the things I know about it. Then, I’ll return and test it once again for you. I’m not giving up.

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.

53 thoughts on “The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 5”

  1. Hey, if every single pellet always went right through the center of the bullseye every single time what a boring world it would be, right? 😉

    But that scarring from the muzzle brake… ouch!

  2. B.B
    Isn’t it possible it is the spring starting to yield? Same thing happened with my TX200. I would often get bad groups with tight subgroups. It would shoot better off a hard surface and it was not noticeable when cocking. Then it would go back to grouping nicely. Thought I had to clean barrel. Finally, velocity went down significantly and thats. When I realized the spring finally broke.

  3. B.B.
    Perhaps the gun needs to wake up after sleeping for such a long time.
    Try giving it one of Vince’s “Quick Lube” jobs. Remove the stock and put lots of moly on the exposed spring. Have some fun with it (just plinking) and let the recoil “fling” the Moly into all parts unknown.


  4. BB,

    What happened to the Velocity against Accuracy Study?

    I am curious to know your conclusions about it. I recently detuned my pcp to slower speeds but better groups at long range. I am seeing regular one inch five shot groups at 75yards, and looking forward to try the 100y soon.

    I have been one of your avid readers here since the very beginning.

  5. Frustrating days of airgunning.

    If you haven’t had at least one you haven’t shot airguns very long.

    After removing that vortek muzzle brake and seeing that several grub screws missed the collar I would have thrown up in my mouth. The good news is that there are now close up pictures on the web of those unique marks to verify that this was the gun used for writing the famous book, The Beeman R1 Supermagnum Air Rifle. This gun is part of airgun history.

    I’m not going to add to the check list of what needs to be looked at next in order to shrink those groups since B.B. invented the springer accuracy check list for me.


    • I think everything mecanical either work or hobby has to involve swearing at some point otherwise you’re probably doing something wrong.
      Bleeding a little should also be involved somewhere in there. I mean even paper can cut so just try a little harder!


    • Kevin,

      I think this is a good opportunity to start a betting pool – what’s wrong with BB’s rifle? What would cause this rifle to string it’s shots vertically? He’s already eliminated loose stock screws so what are we left with? Bad or broken spring, bad or broken scope, bad or broken seal – either at the breech or on the piston. Lubrication that somehow has gotten moved about and is causing detonations? Missing or dried lubrication affecting piston velocity? What have I left out?

      Time to vote, folks. 🙂

      What’s the prize? I’m open to suggestions.

      Oh, BB – I’m going to try and bend that barrel on my FWB 124 myself and let you know the results (as well as the blog). Please don’t go through the trouble of bringing your barrel bending precision tool to Roanoke. I think you’ll have enough in the pick-up truck without it.

      Fred DPRoNJ

  6. Howdy Mr. B.B.
    Realize it’s a pain for you, but as a beginner (I’ve graduated from newbie), it’s how I learn the most. “Watching over the shoulder of the Master” & all of the input from the Gang, as ya work through a challenge like this, is invaluable. Thanx, ya’ll. Ken Ho, good ta c you’re still in here, keep swingin’ bud. Ms. Edith, the Gang & Mr. B.B. for all ya do, THANX again. Shoot/ride safe,

  7. B.B.

    While there are several places that I would look (for different reasons) I would like to ask this because you mentioned that a tune was done…..and it probably has not been shot much since…….

    Is it burning lube ?????? My HWs hate burning lube.


      • B.B.

        It wasn’t until now that I thought of this in relation to something becoming inconsistent and changing fairly rapidly….
        The lockup on my “R” guns….
        The lockup does not happen between the breech faces. There is a gap. I can see that eventually there could be enough wear that the breech faces could start touching along with the original lockup point. This could drive the rifle nuts. It is something I will have to watch out for with my R9s because the gap is very small. The R7s have a much wider gap between breech faces, so there is no way I would live long enough to wear them down to the point that it would be a problem with them.

        Here is where my R9s lock. You can see the mark…

          • B.B.

            Breech seal is one of those cheap and easy things . It don’t hurt if you are in doubt.
            The breech seal in my 97K caused strange problems. Could happen just as easy with a break barrel.


  8. B.B.,
    I love a good mystery! After sleeping on it, the breech seal is the only thing that makes sense to me. Looking at the Barracuda target confirms it, as the others with less accurate pellets only muddy the waters and the guessing game begins. When my TX’s breech seal goes (and it goes often), the targets look just like that.
    I’m not implying you ever would or should, but if you were to sell that R1, what price would you ask?
    Thank you for this place.

    • Hank,

      I actually did sell that rifle once. Thought I’d never need it again. The new owner put the Maccari walnut stock on it. But I bought it back in 2005 for $500 and I think I’ll keep it now.

      I sold the Whiscombe to the same guy and bought it back again, as well. I lost a wonderful M1 Carbine in that deal, but I now have a better one, so everything worked out.


  9. Wow, that’s crazy. Bob Lee Swagger, fictional sniper, claims that every so often one of his rifles will lose accuracy, and he just loves the challenge of going over every single screw and part to figure out what the problem is… Have fun with this one.

    Macman, thanks for the explanation about the air stripper. So, the key is the air drag on the pellet. Makes sense. So, how is the air stripper supposed to help with this? It looks like a series of holes in front of the muzzle. That would seem to reduce air pressure driving the pellet, possibly create more turbulence and vortices inside of the barrel, and have no effect on air coming out the end which contacts the pellet.

    Duskwight, looking at modern commodities produced en masse with such uniformity, I’ve always wondered about that original moment when the idea was first fabricated and made into material form, and you’re right there!

    My new Mosin trigger is in the mail! I’m already taking steps to build up confidence for the task ahead. The other day, I fashioned a paracord lanyard for my Barong machete. After cutting the cord to length, I hung the ends in a candle flame (making sure to vent the toxic gases outdoors) and then let the ends cool to a hard glassy substance. So how about that? 🙂

    I’ve been putting in the time with YouTube videos of people shooting .357 magnum handguns, and I don’t see anyone using one hand. Is there anyone who does besides Dirty Harry who shoots his Model 29 around corners one-handed with a bent wrist?


  10. I have to agree with Pete in the “waking time” concept. If the rifle has been sitting for two years with little or no use, many things can happen to the spring. Whatever tar it has may have shifted downward, the spring was subject to creep under the preload, etc. I am betting on an issue with the spring, which may be related to dampening compound (if any), relaxation of the spring, or yielding of the spring. The first two would fix themselves with shooting for a little while, I would think. BB will of course assess this when he measures velocity and cocking effort and compares to previous values.

    Of course, I am telling this to someone who has shot more times than I have taken breaths and who has had guns sitting on a rack for years…


  11. BB,

    Sorry to see what that muzzle brake did to your R-1. What maybe happened was the scars disturbed the Karma of your rifle and affected its POI. The only cure for that is to have the damaged area smoothed and the barrel reblued.

    “Man, plans, God laughs.”

    He got a good laugh from me yesterday. When I was at the range last week shooting my wife’s Gamo P-23 pistol, the thing wouldn’t hold gas. I couldn’t even get it to discharge a pellet consistently.

    When I got home, I filled the CO2 cartridge seal area with Pellgunoil, and let the gun rest on its top for a few days. The oil had disappeared by then, so I added some more and screwed in a new cartridge.

    I could hear no leaking. I popped the gun open and checked the bb magazine. Empty.

    I can’t legally shoot airguns outside in town, so I stood in my back door, inside the storm door, and discharged the gun at the floor to see if it was working OK.

    With my first shot, a hole opened up through the storm door! While I had checked the bb magazine, I completely forgot that I had been shooting pellets last time, and one remained in the barrel.

    My wife, who was standing near me at the time, wasn’t too upset, as she has been after me to replace that door for some time, and now she has another reason to.

    It was pretty embarrassing to me, a Range Safety Officer, to have shot a hole in his own door. At least I didn’t shoot myself in the foot (only figuratively).

    I went to the range today with my youngest granddaughter, Amber. She tried out the new Daisy pink 1998 I bought her. I shot the P-23 and the old PPK/S. They all worked OK. The Gamo was much more accurate than the PPK. The PPK, which used to be pretty accurate, was spraying bb’s about.
    Amber was able to score some bullseyes after I adjusted the ramp sight.


  12. Informed, therefore spoiled and thus critical.

    I believe that all of us regular readers of this blog are very informed about airguns. We’re spoiled because of articles like this that key on the common and uncommon issues that rob airguns of accuracy. We know what to check, how to check for these issues and one by one we’ve learned how to address each and every one of these issues.

    We’re also spoiled by B.B.’s TEN SHOT exceptional group sizes. We know that a soft tuned R1 should be capable of a better than 0.88 group size. Yes, we can’t help but be critical.

    Nonetheless, I can’t help but think of the majority of airgunners that shoot multiple 5 shot groups at 25 yards, take pictures of the one or two 5 shot groups that can be covered by a dime and proudly post pictures of their 5 shot, dime sized group along with pictures of their airgun on other forums. The title of their post is usually something like, “My New Tackdriver”. Guess it’s all relative.

    My point is that I have no doubt that B.B.’s R1 could make a dime sized 5 shot group today. That would satisfy most 🙂


  13. BB,
    That’s why I don’t trust the non-Chinese made junk — unreliable :)! In reality, You just had one of “those” days.

    Looks velocity related, so breech and piston seals, maybe spring; probably just needs a little time to redistribute lubes evenly…cleaning rarely hurts either. Remember my corollary to the old saw is that only inaccurate guns are interesting because they teach us more :)! The only other thing I can think of is, how many pellets did you reseason with after switching? I’ve seen that kind of POI shift when going from hard to soft pellets — most of the time it goes back to where it was after a good number.

    Assuming it wasn’t the problem (which it doesn’t appear to be), why not simply put the Vortek brake back on after touching up and oiling the holes — damage is already done?

  14. Just recieved my new LW barrel for my AAT200. No more worries if it would be rusty, bent, or have a bad bore.
    I pushed a few pellets through it, and all I can say is….WUNDERBAR !!!!!!

    This barrel should be solid gold. I am going to REALLY be careful when I fit it to the rifle.


    • I’m guessing tight, sharp, smooth, and regular (until choke ) by your description. Sounds like a winner! I’ve got my .40 cal. “match” barrel from GM and it is good quality. I wish it was a PO–dubious quality– in some ways, esp. when I’m drilling holes for sight risers and the like. Just a few more and I can breathe, finally :)! The D&T for the rear sight riser is giving me the willies in particular — too far up to cut down barrel; it would just be a big pistol barrel if I screw up.

      • Dry pellets and bore. Perfectly smooth and consistent all the way to the choke. Light and steady resistance that almost gives the imression that there is no pellet, except that if I turn the barrel up on end the rod does not slide through under its own weight.
        I am still going to polish it though.


  15. I have a suggestion for you guys to deal with those damaging set screws. This is not my original idea but it has worked for me. Cut a piece of string trimmer line about 1/8″ long and drop it into the hole before the set screw. You may have to push on the set screw a little to get to engage the threads. The trimmer line flattens out to a little plastic pancake and protects the barrel. I wondered of it would make it muzzle brake slide off but it hasn’t. This trick has worked for me for a long time. Try it.

    I have two theories on the open groups.

    One of them was put forward by you, a bad scope. I have noticed over the years that older scope erector tube springs under the adjustment screws loose some of their tension and will drive you batty.

    My other theory is that BB has forgotten just how to hold that R-1. If you don’t shoot a particular gun for a long time, particularly a springer, it is hard to pick it up and immediately get the accuracy you used to get. I said I had two theories.

    I will add a third that I just thought of. I bet current production pellets are not to the same specs as the ones you used 17 years ago. You may have to go through the finding the best pellet for the rifle rigamarole again.

    Hay, I finally got a Gottcha that did not require fingers and toes: 1+1=2

    David Enoch

  16. non sequitur

    Just opened the email from PA boasting the H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets.

    Is just me? I get the impression the inspiration for that pellet design came from try to unjam a pellet die by pressing a Philips screwdriver into the pellet head.

  17. B.B.,

    A gun that I’ve recently been testing for the first time had both a dirty barrel and a scope that needed to settle before being useful. And by the way, the barrel looked clean, but required around 12 patches to reach the point where patches were coming out almost clean. It took 2 shooting sessions for the scope to finally settle. Incidentally, I may have bought a Center Point scope that is no longer made by Leapers. Before installing that scope, and before cleaning the bore, it was producing horrible accuracy. Now I’m very pleased with it.

    I’ve had MANY frustrating sessions, but I get over them before I’m done. Experience has taught me that I just need to step back and clear my mind. Our brain is often most productive when working at the subconscious level. At the conscious level, we’re all but beating our head against a wall. I believe it was Einstein who defined INSANITY as doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different outcome.

    In any case, there’s almost always a good reason for why I’m not getting the accuracy that I believe is possible. It’s about patience and a positive attitude. Usually, I’m more impatient with myself than something technical. My engineering experience has taught me that tough problems are often solved after stepping away. Many times the solution came to me after getting in my car and thinking about little things like adjusting the windows, or starting the ignition. If anyone remembers the old Hewlett Packard commercials, where the engineer solved a problem while taking a shower, that’s me, and probably most of us.

    The miracle happens when we change our attitude about the problem.


    • You are so right!

      Solutions to problems can actually be blocked by over-thinking them.

      I once won a contest not by trying to think up an answer (I couldn’t come up with a good one), but by “giving up” and going to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night with the solution.

      When I wasn’t racking my brain, the answer was clear. I guess the subconscious keeps grinding away even we aren’t trying.


  18. b b I also have same r1 same scope and I cannot hold a group that I am happy with what do you ever come up with I changed scope cleaned lubed done about every thing I can come up and still not happy dave

  19. Dave,

    That’s probably easy. Is your scope adjusted up a lot? Is the elevation adjustment in the upper quarter of the range? That’s what is causing the scope drift. The erector tube return spring is relaxed and the reticle bounces around between shots.


  20. I think your main problem is a dirty bore and possibly the breech seal is leaking a little. Clean the bore and not with those little cotton pellets you shoot ,but with some bore cleaner and cotton patches..you might be surprised how dirty those first few patches come out.

  21. B.B., First a big thank you. I never opened a gun before and because of your R1 guide I was able to restore my 1981 HW80 that had been neglected for 25 years. Now it gives a nice short bang/thud without twang and a much more simple recoil than I remember. Ultimate accuracy after breaking in remains to be seen but for now all seems fine.

    I gave it new soft parts and an up to date lube/debur/polish, and a new 2 coils shortened main spring. Just Weihrauch parts to keep costs low until I know how the gun holds up.


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