Chinese KL-3B Fast Deer sidelever: Part 2

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

Part 1

Fast Deer sidelever air rifle right
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.

Fast Deer sidelever air rifle rear sight turned around
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.

RWS Hobbys
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.

60 thoughts on “Chinese KL-3B Fast Deer sidelever: Part 2

  1. turn the rear sight around on its rails, and you get a little more eye relief.

    Well, my alternative would have required a bit more work (especially as I don’t know what metals were used in the sight): Silver-solder a disk to the rear sight blade, then drill a hole using the notch as a guide; mount the sight all the way to the rear, and make a peep sight…

    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.

    Based on the results, the mystery pellet probably had the base stuffed with primer compound sensitive enough to be ignited by the dieseling effect, creating a partial firearm effect. {Primers can be nasty — back in the late 70s I’d picked up a set of “practice” rounds in .38Special… Plastic “brass” with snap-fit plastic wad-cutters — powered by large pistol primers. As my father discovered, the primer produced enough velocity for the sharp-edged projectile to punch through the vinyl covering of a dining room chair.}



  2. Those who “expressed their concerns” are likely concerned with the “collector” value being ruined. Personally, I am looking forward to what will be revealed beneath the old finish and checkering.

    FINALLY was able to shoot the Edge this weekend. What a great plinker. And being so much lighter than the FWB 601, it is more fun to shoot. I knew I should have picked one of these up first. Now if I can find some front irises and find an adjustable aperature to fit.

    Hopefully I will be able to charge up Mac’s Talon SS this weekend and try it out.



      • At the moment it has a 26″ .177 HW barrel. I also have a 12″ .22 barrel which I suspect is a custom. I can see several different “versions” of this thing in the future such as one with a 14″ or 16″ .25 barrel with a TalonP valve and a 17ci tank.

        For the moment I am going to concentrate on putting an 18″ .177 barrel and a few other mods into the Edge. These things are an ADHD tinkerer’s dream come true!



        • It ought to be pretty fast with the long HW on it. I had a 18″ on mine for a while, and got around 1000 fps with the heavies. The barrel came out even with the end of the frame.

          twotalon



        • RR,

          Whatever you do, don’t cut that barrel shorter. I’ll trade you a 24″ .22 barrel for it. It’s a Weihrauch barrel and it’s very accurate.

          Your 12″ .22 barrel was made by Shin Sung.

          B.B.


          • I have absolutely no intention of chopping that barrel! That barrel will stay with one of the “versions” of the SS I will have. I will pick up an 18″ .177 for the Edge when my wallet recovers a little bit.

            Twotalon, Mac said this SS will pitch Eujins at a little over 1000 FPS. Some tree rats are likely going to regret that.


          • Speaking of Edge. Can the regulator be adjusted up to a 12FPE output? I am not going to mess with this one, but I am thinking of getting another valve and adjusting it and making a longer tank for it for another “version” of this Edge.



  3. BB,
    I remember when the Fast Deer was a hot topic. It was a gun a lot of guys enjoyed playing with and tuning. The Fast Deer was cheap enough that no one worried about messing it up. From what I remember some guys landed up with pretty sweet rifles.

    That approach can still work today. If guys want to start learning how to tune or mod a gun a cheap Chinese gun is a good place to start. Those B3 rifles cost around $20 to $30 from some sources and extra spring and seal kits sell cheap also.

    David Enoch



    • Matt,

      It depends on the sight. With a peep you want to be as close as possible. With a notch you want to be far enough away that your eye can resolve the edges of the notch while you focus on the front sight.

      B.B.


  4. B.B.,

    Off topic. This weekend a took a few shots from a friends new Ruger Air Hawk at 25 yards. I couldn’t believe how nice the trigger is on this rifle. I was also VERY surprised to shoot 3 shots into a 0.25 inch group. He’s a newbie, but was shooting sub inch groups at this distance. For just over $110.00 bucks, this rifle is a real bargain. He uses CP Heavies. If I may, I’d like to suggest that you test this rifle.

    If your experience is anything like mine and my friends, I think PA will be selling a lot of these, and CP Heavies.

    Victor


    • Victor,

      The difference is a 3-shot group vs a 10-shot group. Most of our test guns have awesome 3-shot groups. Many can even achieve admirable 5-shot groups, and a few can do pretty nice 8-shot groups. Once it gets to 10-shot groups, though, that’s where the true tale is told. And most do not fare well.

      Edith


      • Edith

        In a “good-3-shot-group-gun”, is that the first 3 of ten shots or 3 shots somewhere amongst the ten?

        I ask because my mid-level gun frequently puts the 1st few shots right on and then deteriorates from there. I always shoot ten shot groups.

        john



          • B.B.,

            In my case, the group mentioned was the last of four 3 shot strings. The first three groups were only attempts to gauge how much the scope needed to be adjusted. Although all groups were tight, it was only during the last set that I really tried to shoot for accuracy by aiming at a single pellet hole. Of course, it also helped that there was very little wind.

            I realize that talking about 3 shot groups is almost silly. I know better. But seeing consistent performance for such an inexpensive rifle across several groups impressed me. Independent of this, the trigger blew me away! This trigger is orders of magnitude better than what you get with most Gamo’s and Crosman’s cost much more. In fact, this trigger is much better than that of my Air Hawk Elite. That was definitely was not expecting. Maybe they’ve improved on the triggers, cause my Elite is several years old. I don’t know.

            Victor


          • B.B.
            Pressure…?…in my case, you could probably validly be referring to psychological pressure but I’m guessing you mean variations in piston pressure due maybe to piston seal heating up or spring heating up and/or other complications.
            john


        • I’d give a bit of a different twist to 3 shot vs 10 shot groups. It isn’t the smallest group size that you shoot, but the average group size that is important. There is more variation in 3 shots groups than 10. So you’re more likely to shoot a “lucky” 3-shot group than you are a 10-shot group. By lucky I mean a group which is much better than average, maybe 1/2 or 1/3 or of the average value.

          All in all this is just the quirky nature of statistics.



          • Herb,

            That’s what I was thinking when I only mentioned my final 3 shot group. My confidence in stating this, knowing that probably none of us put a lot of weight behind 3 shot groups, was the fact that ALL of my groups were about the same. I simply wasn’t expecting this from a $115.00 dollar air-rifle.

            Victor


      • Edith,

        OK, didn’t want to do a write-up on my experience, so I left out a lot of detail. I am fully aware of the significance of a 3 shot group, wrote about anyways with consideration of my entire experience with this rifle. I took a buddy out to my favorite desert sport, which is secluded and not easy to find. More importantly, it’s perfectly legal and probably safer than some ranges.

        He was shooting behind me, and I wasn’t watching what he was doing. At some point, he saw that I was punching out the center of my targets with my Ruger Air Hawk Elite, but would have flyers. I explained that this rifle had always been very accurate, but that my stock and rings had come loose. In fact, I had to tighten the stock screws 4 times. I hadn’t shot this rifle in probably 2 years. Well, he was shooting 4 inch patterns, so he wondered if maybe there was something wrong with his setup. I checked his stock screws and scope rings. Both were a little loose also, so I tightened them. Then I tested his rifle.

        I usually take a least 3 shots before changing scope settings. I shot 4 groups before deciding that the rifle was sighted in. All four 3-shot groups were about the same. On the last set, I was shooting directly at the first pellet hole. The second shot was about a 50% out of center with the first shot. The third shot went right into the first hole, leaving a hard to see ragged hole. Again, the first three 3 shot groups were about the same.

        My intent was not to prove that this gun was accurate (i.e., not an accuracy test), only to demonstrate that there was nothing wrong with it. In the end, it was surprisingly accurate. Even more surprising was the trigger. The last time I shot a shot accidentally was the first time I used a high-end free-style target pistol with a hair trigger. The trigger on this Ruger was so nice (and light) that I did this mistake TWICE. That really impressed me.

        Why were my friends groups so wild? Well, he was doing two things wrong:
        1. He was resting the rifle just behind where you load the pellet, so he was experiencing the full recoil of the spring piston offloading the pellet through the barrel.
        2. He was gripping the rifle too hard with all fingers.

        Once I corrected these mistakes he then shot about 20 shots within a group of less than an inch. It was late so we stopped shooting, but now he can’t wait to see what he can with this new found knowledge. My personal assessment is that he really got a lot of bang for his buck. At under $120.00, this rifle appears to rival a lot of rifles that cost a great deal more.

        Victor

        Victor



      • Edith,

        Thanks so much for the link! I didn’t know that B.B. had reviewed the Elite version. As mentioned above, it’s been at least two years since I shot mine. At 20 yards, I get groups at least as good as B.B.’s best group, but using CP Heavies, which B.B. didn’t test with. I recommended to my friend that he only purchase CP Heavies, so he bought at least 4 boxes of the 1250 count heavies from PA.

        I recommend that others look at B.B.’s report of the Air Hawk Elite, because he demonstrated that this rifle is accurate. Because of my own experience with my Elite mode, I wasn’t surprised by what the Air Hawk can do accuracy-wise. What did surprise me was the trigger. The Air Hawk has a MUCH BETTER trigger than that of my Air Hawk Elite. PA sells these Air Hawks at around $150.00. I’d be surprised to find another air-rifle in this price range that has anywhere near this nice a trigger.

        Victor


    • Victor,
      I had the Blackhawk briefly (=airhawk with black synthetic stock) and loved it. That one had barrel runout (bored off center apparently) and torn seal, so I returned it in trade (partial) for a Diana34P, simply because I didn’t have time to mess with it if I got another bad one. If you can accept a couple of returns if necessary (I don’t think mine was typical, but they can’t all be perfect at that price), the Blackhawk is a smoking good deal. The D34P has even a better trigger (although not enough to justify by itself), but the Blackhawk shot better, and I loved the way it handled; I thought the trigger was pretty nice, also; glad to see an expert concurs :).


      • BG_Farmer,

        I’ve only shot about 5 times in about a year and a half because of physical limitations that I’m still getting over. I didn’t expect the trigger on the Air Hawk to be so nice. The accuracy didn’t surprise me because of my experience with the Elite model. The big lesson was the effect of loose stock screws on my Elite model. I knew it was accurate, so when I started to see groups shift, and crazy flyers, I knew something was wrong. All I’m saying here today is that I think a shooter on a budget can get a lot of bang for their buck with one of these Air Hawks.

        Victor


      • BG_Farmer,

        You do raise a good issue, namely, quality. So far so good with my friends, but I know of someone else who also recently got one of these Air Hawks. Makes me want to try this other one to see if it is of the same quality, or not.

        Victor


        • Victor,
          I think the Rugers are pretty good going by what I’ve read, but with all Chinese production you have to be careful. For the price, however, I don’t think you can beat them if you go into it with your eyes open. The fact that mine had two problems (crooked bore and torn seal that started detonating after a few dozen shots) was anomalous in my opinion. There are much worse rifles for twice the price, I think.


    • Victor,
      You inspired me to get out my Ruger AirHawk. I haven’t shot it in a long time. Mine does indeed have a pretty nice trigger. There is no creep in the first stage and the second stage is easily found and crisp. At 10m I shot a 3 shot group at 1.4″ with CPMs but shot # 5 opened it out to 5/8″. It is a hard rifle for me to cock at 30lbs plus it fires too harsh for me. It would wear me out fast. I tried to sell it once with a decent scope on it but my “market” opted for a Benjamin 397, instead. I let my “market” borrow it to shoot some annoying rabbits he had in his backyard and he raved how he could drop them in their tracks with one shot at 10yds out his kitchen window. He was not an experienced springer shooter either so maybe that says something about the rifle. I doubt he was using the artillery hold. I have other rifles I like to shoot more so this one goes back in the cave.
      -Chuckj


    • All,

      In any case, seeing B.B.’s report from 2008 corroborates my own experience with Ruger Air Hawk’s in terms of accuracy, the better than average trigger, and the guns preference of heavy pellets (e.g., JSB Exact 10.2-grain pellets, or CP Heavies). I would not have requested a report if I knew that B.B. had already done one. Thank you all for your comments!

      Victor


  5. Off topic. The continuing saga of my foray in PB with my Savage .22WMR.
    So, as some will recall (Matt61) I was questioning whether the .22WinMag was the right purchase. A lot of what I’ve read since buying the gun in the spring was that the .17HMR would have been much more accurate…and since my main reason for buying the gun was longer range paper punching, I though I’d made a mistake.
    A lot of what I’d read was that the .22WMR was good for 1-1.5MOA, whilst the .17HMR would cloverleaf at 100m all day long.
    Well, I slowly started to try and make the gun better. Boyds stock, Harris bi-pod, playing around with the torque settings on the stock screws…you name it, I tried it…1.5MOA average was it.
    Then, about 2 weeks ago I replaced (as was the plan) the 3-9×40 Bushnell Banner the gun came with with a Hawke 6.5-20×42 Tactical.
    Well, yesterday was the first time I really had a chance to try it…and I couldn’t get the gun to shoot a group bigger than 1MOA no matter how hard I tried 🙂
    Most of the groups were .75MOA to just under 1MOA.
    Gotta admit, on some PB websites frequent I’ve always been a little annoyed by the guys who claim that if you’re spending under $500 for a scope you’re buying cut rate optics (and try as I might, I can’t forsee the day I’ll ever be looking to buy a Schmidt and Bender at $3K).
    But I will be a bit less annoyed now when I read those posts.



      • You are so right, and I will add (I have a Savage 93 in .17HRM), the .17HRM is a poor choice for game over 5lbs body wt. The .22 mag will do as a coyote round in a pinch, if you are careful, and cover is light.



        • The .17 does offer accuracy in the field if there is no wind ,but where is that? Maybe in an underground tunnel. The .22 mag will never be a target round ,and I think that the main reason is that it costs a lot to make compared to other rimfire rounds. A .22 mag match load and the R&D to produce such an item , would probably be prohibitive in cost for the average shooter. Marketing is what the shooting sports are all about lately.Just suffering through one of the many “hunting shows” on TV verifies this.


          • Lately, I’ve been wondering why bother with .22WMR or the other modern non-.22LR rimfires at all when .223 Rem. is available at competitive prices, arguably does a better job at everything than any of them, and is reloadable. The silver lining in the AR craze, in my opinion :)! I used to scoff at .223 (there is something better at almost everything!), but the free market has made it an attractive option, I think.


            • BG:
              My interest in the .22 WRM came about because in my area it was illegal to use a centerfire rifle for hunting during deer season. That , and my trapline use. I agree,the .223 and all the .22 centerfires are better than any of the RF ‘s for shooting at targets and game, even deer ,(with the right twist barrel). I also use a couple oldies for hunting and target shooting like the .25-20, .32-20, and .218 bee . All based onthe same case, just different sized bullets. Most of them came chambered in some very nice smallish rifles. The Marlin 94 CL series of lever actions are recent examples. You should try to find one ,as they would fill the gap between your muzzle loaders and the .223.


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