by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The Chinese Fast Reed sidelever air rifle is attractive. Does its performance live up to its looks?
Today, we’ll find out if the Fast Deer lives up to its name. In other words, how fast does the Fast Deer go?
As I thought, I am one of the last people on earth to learn about this rifle. Several of you have owned a couple of them and had lots to say about them. They are good — but don’t expect perfection. The trigger never does get too good. Or the one from Vince that said — turn the rear sight around on its rails, and you get a little more eye relief. That one was most helpful, and that’s how my rifle is now set up. By doing that and also moving the rear sight far forward on the rails, I gained an additional 2.5 inches of eye relief to the rear notch, sharpening it considerably.
Vince’s suggestion of turning the rear sight around on its rails provided more than two additional inches of eye relief. That should help during accuracy testing.
The trigger also became noticeably lighter as I conducted the velocity test, which leads me to believe it was just dirty when I got it. It now breaks cleanly at 8 lbs., 6 oz., which — though far from light — is at least manageable. Before, I estimated it took more than 12 lbs. to get it to break!
The dealer who sold me the gun said it was an honest-to-goodness 715 f.p.s. rifle. But he qualified that statement. It was with a Chinese pellet I don’t have. So, I tested the gun with some good standard pellets — both to see the power and also to assess the barrel in anticipation of accuracy testing.
The first pellet I tried was the lightweight RWS Hobby — a 7-grain lead pellet that’s often accurate and also one of the fastest lead pellets available. The first shot from a cold gun went 658 f.p.s., then the velocity jumped up to 684 f.p.s. By ignoring the first shot, I got a string that averaged 674 f.p.s., with a spread from 670 to 684 f.p.s. That puts the Fast Deer in the same power class as the Air Venturi Bronco, and that’s a good place to be. It means the gun should be easy to shoot and not need a lot of special technique.
At the average velocity, this pellet produces 7.06 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. I also note that the Hobby fit the breech of the rifle very well.
JSB Exact RS
The second pellet I tried was the 7.3-grain JSB Exact RS pellet — a lead dome that delivers superb accuracy in some air rifles. But I don’t think that’s going to happen with the Fast Deer. With the RS pellet, I got a bi-modal distribution, with one mode being about 650 f.p.s. and the other mode being 623 f.p.s. The average for the entire string was 635 f.p.s. — a velocity the rifle never actually shot. The spread was a large one — ranging from 606 to 658 f.p.s. The final shot was 658, and I influenced it by enlarging the pellet’s skirt with the ball tip of a pellet seater. These pellets fit the bore very loosely, and I think the velocity was greatly influenced by this poor fit. FYI, there were also two pellets that left the muzzle at 657 f.p.s. and were not flared, so I left the velocity of the flared pellet in the string.
At the average velocity, the RS pellet generated 6.54 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. I would be afraid of these pellets falling out of the breech before the sliding compression chamber is closed, so they’re out of the running for the accuracy test.
H&N Match Pistol pellets
The last pellet I tried was the H&N Match Pistol pellet. At 7.56 grains, it’s heavier than the other two I tried but is still a relatively lightweight pellet. They averaged 634 f.p.s. and ranged from 630 to 637 f.p.s. Flaring the skirt made no difference to velocity, and this pellet seemed to fit the breech well.
At the average velocity, this pellet produced 6.75 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Since the velocity spread was tight (only 7 f.p.s.) and the fit was good, this will be a pellet to try in the accuracy test.
The rifle is definitely smoking as it’s shot, giving off the unmistakeable odor of a Chinese springer — or what I like to call the “frying bacon” smell. If I were going to tune the gun, I would replace the lubricant with moly grease that would stop the smell and also change the dieseling characteristics. It would still diesel, of course, but it probably wouldn’t be so noticeable.
Update on the Falke 90
Several readers expressed their concerns that I said I was going to refinish the Falke’s stock. It seemed to me that your fears sounded sort of like reacting to the little boy who wants to help his dad by painting murals on his bedroom wall. You may be glad to know that Kevin recommended a good stock restoration man by the name of Doug Phillips, and I’m now talking to him about this project. So, all is not lost for the Falke just yet.