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Ammo AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3

I’m testing 3 AirForce guns together — the Escape, the EscapeUL and the EscapeSS. All 3 are based on the same powerplant that is derived from the TalonP pistol. That’s why I am grouping them together like this. But each rifle has its own unique characteristics, too. And this is our look at the EscapeUL, which is the ultralight version of the rifle. It’s the lightest of the 3 air rifles and comes in either .22 or .25 caliber. I’m testing a .25.

Escape Escape SS Escape Ultralight
Escape on top, then Escape SS and finally Escape Ultralight on the bottom.

As you will remember, the Escape is a collaboration between AirForce Airguns and Ton Jones, the star of television’s Auction Hunters. Ton had the requirement for a survival airgun and came up with the idea of putting a longer barrel on the TalonP pistol action, and AirForce did the engineering and development that turned it into a production rifle.

What does survival mean?
Survival is a word that’s charged with emotion, so the definition depends on the person who is using it. For many people, the term connotes a human wave attack with bullets and missiles flying everywhere — a last stand at the Alamo. But is that what survival really means? If you’re in the Alamo at that moment, I guess you would agree with that definition, but most of us will thankfully never be in that situation. But every year, millions of people are thrust into real survival situations.

Hurricane Sandy, a force 5 tornado, a blizzard that won’t stop or just having your truck break down 20 miles off Old Lincoln Highway outside Ely, Nevada, in the late summertime can all qualify as survival situations. Maybe all you have to do is hold out for 2 days before someone comes looking for you. You were exploring an old ghost town, and now they want to add you to the town rolls!

You don’t need a track-mounted machine gun or a Patriot missile launcher, but it sure would be nice to know you could defend yourself if a wild dog showed up! Or, if you had some way of popping one of those elusive prairie chickens that run along the ground and seem to stay just outside throwing distance. So, in your truck, along with the extra water, gasoline, MREs and sleeping bag (with cot, for this is the desert) you have a small canvas bag. Inside is a scoped EscapeUL, a hand pump and a tin of pellets. The rifle has been sighted-in, but you check it with one shot at an MRE wrapper stuck on a creosote bush 40 yards away — just to be sure. Then lay the rifle on top of the bag on the ground and put 10 pump strokes back in — 7 to get the air line up to pressure and 3 for the shot you just fired — and everything is good to go. The bag weighs 12 lbs., total, and has straps for shoulder carry. That’s what we mean by a survival airgun.

We took a good look at the Escape rifle for both power and accuracy and found that it can be plenty accurate when you use the right combination of pellets and pressures. Ton has pronounced it good to go, and his logo is on every Escape made.

The EscapeUL, however, is an AirForce idea. Ton knows about it and did test it, but it doesn’t bear his logo. It has slightly different features for a person with slightly different needs.

The EscapeUL is designed to remove all unnecessary weight from the rifle, while retaining as much of the power as possible. It has an 18-inch barrel instead of the Escape’s 24-inch barrel, so some velocity is lost. We’ll see how much in a moment.

The barrel isn’t just shorter, it is also thinner. Instead of a nominal 16mm diameter for the Escape barrel, the UL barrel is just 12mm. That diameter is only nominal. Some comes off when the barrel is ground before bluing. The barrel on my test rifle measures 0.477 inches across, which translates to 12.1158mm.

The net weight of the EscapeUL is 4.25 lbs., making it several pounds less than most precharged rifles and even less than some of the lightest ones.

EscapeUL barrel thickness
The EscapeUL barrel (bottom) is thinner than the Escape barrel, saving weight.

Of course, we all want to know what a thinner barrel means as far as accuracy goes. That test will be next. But now, let’s take a look at power.

The EscapeUL shares the same 213cc Spin-Loc air reservoir as the Escape and TalonP pistol, so the number of shots per fill is going to be about the same. Physics being what they are, we already know what to expect. The powerplant is also the same. The same valve in the tank and same striker weight and spring tension will give similar performance. It’s the 18-inch barrel that makes the difference.

With the heaviest .25-caliber pellet, which is the Eun Jin pointed pellet that weighs 43.2 grains, the maximum velocity in the 18-inch barrel is about 910 f.p.s. The 24-inch Escape barrel gave a maximum of 1010 f.p.s. with the same pellet, so the UL barrel loses about 100 f.p.s. In term of muzzle energy, that’s 79.46 foot-pounds on the first shot, compared to the 97.88 foot-pounds for the Escape.

As with the Escape, the velocity drops with each succeeding shot. By shot 5, the velocity will be down to 855 f.p.s. That carries an energy of 70.14 foot-pounds.

In .22 caliber, the energies are all lower because the pellets are lighter. With a 28.4-grain Eun Jin dome the maximum velocity is 980 f.p.s. on the first shot. That’s 60.58 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. By shot 5, the pellet leaves the muzzle at 900 f.p.s. and generates 51.09 foot-pounds.

You can discuss their performance in several different ways; but to my way of thinking, the Escape rifles are best in .25 caliber. I’m glad that’s the way I will be testing this one.

The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. The shorter slender barrel reduces the weight.

The trigger, adjustable stock, automatic safety and scope mounts are identical to those found on the Escape. It’s plenty for a scope, scope level, tactical flashlight and laser. There’s even enough for a coffee grinder, if you can find one that will fit!

Some thoughts
I’ve already been asked if the Escape rifles will run on CO2. They should, but it will need to be tested to say for sure. Since they were not designed to operate on CO2, I’ll have to find a way of filling the reservoir. No CO2 coupling I know of will mate with an air coupling, so it may take me some time to work it out.

I’ve also been asked on the back channel how quiet these airguns can be. Quite frankly, I don’t know. Given all the technology in the world, they can probably be made quieter than a Marauder; but once I answer that, the next question will be if all that technology can be reduced in size to fit in a pocket! We criticize the U.S. Air Force for asking that everything be made from unobtainium (strongest metal known whose forms weigh nothing and add lift to airframes), yet we do the same thing when it comes to powerful airguns. “Great,” we say, “but can they also be quiet and get lots of shots, too?”

There’s survival and then there’s daydreaming. We’re talking survival here.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

44 thoughts on “AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1”

  1. This isn’t related to the current subject of the blog, but I just added a post to part 5 of the Umarex Octane and the trigger. I made a modification that reduced my trigger pull from over 3 pounds down to 18 ounces. All I did was drill a new hole in the trigger housing so that I could move the trigger retaining pin about 3/16″ towards the muzzle end to gain more leverage. I had to dremel a little metal from the tertiary sear and from the trigger housing to get the clearance I needed, but I bet once it settles in I will likely have a true 1 lb. trigger. This mod in no way affects the safety of the mechanism and it has helped tighten my bench groups just a touch. Where it has helped the most has definitely been offhand and on moving targets. I don’t hunt, but rolling golf balls are in more peril than ever 😉

    • DMoneyTT
      I just went to check it out. I thought you would of added some pictures. I understand what you did. But it would be nice to see pictures like you posted for the other mods you did to the trigger.

      But good info.

      • I’ll snap some pictures some time this week and put them up. It’s pretty straightforward, but I know everything is better with pictures. It is a bit more involved than the polishing and stuff, but at least if you don’t like the result you can always just go back to the factory trigger pin location. I hope some folks will have the courage to give it a try because it really makes a tremendous difference.

  2. And now about the Escape UL.

    I totally like how much the gun weighs. That thing probably feels like a feather when you pick it up.

    And survival means many different things to people. Here’s a thought. What if it would be a new beginning. The end of the world as we know it.

    No electric forever or a long, long time anyway. Nobody making replacement parts anymore for anything. No more ammo for guns. No grocery stores. And somebody may come to take what you have. And you have no choice because that is the way it is everywhere. Oh and no hospital to go to. Hows that for a survival scenario. I know maybe I over exaggerated. Or maybe not.

    I totally like that the new Escape guns make good power. I like that one weighs less than most guns. I like that one is quiet. But maybe this gun is a specific type of survival gun. If your not up to being a good enough shot because of the fast pace of the situation in front of you and you have to make multiple shots your chances to survive fade fast if you only have a few shots per fill.

    But on the other hand the scenario BB explained above the gun would be great. And to have this gun (well the Escape SS anyway) setting by the back door for just incase purposes it would be great. I’m talking wild animals or something that could show up. We just had 2 coyotes walk back and forth across the back fence tonight. But maybe it wouldn’t be great. First a quiet gun would be nice, second will the gun have enough power to take a coyote at 50 yards if needed. If not why waist my time with this gun. A more powerful powder burner will have to do I’m afraid. Yes it will be loud. But I know I would get the job done if need be. And yes two coyotes did come. And there has been up to 5 of them at one time before. You should of seen what they did to a deer that got hit in front of the house one night. All I can say is they move fast.

    I guess it all comes down to what you feel comfortable with to protect yourself. But the Escapes sure would make for a fun time plinking. I wouldn’t turn down the offer that’s for sure.

  3. Rob, several years ago in the Democratic People’s Republic of NJ, someone did kill their spouse with an airgun. Near as I can surmise, the husband was trying to shoot his wife in the butt but instead but he in her kidney so this scenario has already happened. As long as this is a lone incident, I don’t think it will be”attractive”enough to the anti- firearm politicians to take any action against air guns. That is discounting those halfwits who are trying to have all airguns made in a hot color like a current CA bill.

    Fred DPRoNJ

    • Hi Fred,I never heard of that but your right, all we need is one incident and they will
      start to go after air guns too. I hope someday you will make it out of there,but
      I was surprised to hear the Gulag now allows air gun hunting but with out any kind
      of sound muffling device
      I have been out of the Gulag now well over ten years but I still keep up with news from there
      and I am so glad that I was able to leave,I always look forward to your blogs.

      • As one who lives in the neighboring northwestern “Gulog” of the state of knee jerk, I believe that they made airguns here legal for hunting small game so that they could class them as “fire arms” (which they are not), for the purpose of regulation in the future .

        • That might be a real problem: legalizing airguns for hunting in order to regulate them as firearms. While I would like to see more states allow airguns for hunting, I would sure hate to see that used as a back door to regulation.

          Unfortunately, people have been killed by airguns and probably have been for many years. I suppose they have avoided regulation because they are inefficient for killing humans.

          I think a much more common criminal use of airguns is as vandalism or as weapons for armed robbery.
          The latter is getting to be quite common, especially as airguns can be good models of their powder-burning versions.

          The gun-grabbers do not seem to care if the guns they want to eliminate are powder-burners or airguns. Or even pictures of guns or pastry. The motivation there is power, and gun confiscation is merely one way of achieving it.


          • It is worth noting that during the Ukranian riots of last few days, there were airguns used to harass the police ,along with catapluts, and slingshots. I saw one protester firing a Daisy 880 at the government forces on the CBS broadcast of the riots over the weekend. The folks who would control us are aware of this and frightened by the prospect of such a situation here. If I was in their shoes I would certainly wouldn’t discount such a threat, and take steps to remedy that threat. In fact they did by selectivly sniping of the more dangerous of protesters .

        • That was actually part of my point. Airguns are now powerful enough to be used for legitimate hunting and crime. They may be found subject to greater scrutiny and legal restrictions on either account. Please see my response above.

          • Rob, I can assure you that with my NY legal slingshot (Tru-mark , no wrist brace as under our reasonable laws, that would make it an assault slingshot), I can drive a steel 3/8″ ball bearing right thru a piece of 1/2″ plywood at 20 yards. So what is the difference between that and another projectile launcher as far as lethality goes? Please read my other responce above in regards to logical disscussion on magazine capacity limits.

  4. I’m sure you’ll find that, as with the first model you tested, you’ll have to dial the power down to achieve decent accuracy. When I saw the photo touting the ability to punch holes in dimensional lumber in the first blog announcing this series of guns, I thought that they were developed for power first, above all other considerations. I’d much rather have a gun with consistent velocities shot-to-shot. I wouldn’t buy one just to stick in a bag in the closet to languish until I was in a survival situation.
    As far as being quiet, certainly any unshrouded PCP is going to crack loudly, especially one that develops such high power. As BB pointed out, if you want that high power, you have to give up some things.

  5. In a “Stuck in the Woods” situation, I would rather have a Ruger 10/22 or my Remington Nylon 66. Ruger has a very nice take down version of the 10/22 now. The airgun would be more useful in a long term meltdown or in a situation where you can’t get 22 ammo. Oh…….wait……..that’s now!


    • John,

      Not ones with the Spin-Loc tanks like these have. Besides, if I were to use that adapter, the velocity would be no different than any other AirForce gun that has the same barrel length. The valve in that adapter is what powers the guns it is put on, not the valve in their own reservoirs.



      • B.B.,
        In the reviews, a customer says “threads were perfect and it fit the spin lock threads of my Talon SS”. Are ‘spin lock’ threads different for this rifle or is the review erroneous?

        • John,

          No, the threads are the same. But to put on the adapter you cannot use the Spin-Loc feature any more. Also, you gain several inches of length. Also the tank must be dismounted from the gun to fill each time. Also you only get the exact same power that all other AirForce guns get with CO2 — the powerful valve is no longer used, because the COP2 valve takes over. Also the tank (butt plate) will no longer “clock” (which means stopping at the correct angle for your shoulder).

          So, yes, it will “work,” but not in the way any owner of a Spin-Loc tank wiill want it to work.


          • B.B.,
            Thank you, very informative. I have been keeping my eye open for a smaller, lighter, high quality gun that produces enough power to hunt. I like the idea of easily converting to CO2 for day-long plinking sessions.

  6. Everyone,

    There have been several questions about operating these Escape rifles on CO2. You can do it, but it isn’t very convenient.

    To clean up the confusion, I will do a special report about converting an Escape rifle to run on CO2. I may even put a video in that report.


    • BB
      I really like the idea of you adding a video once in a while. I know that’s extra work but it kind of steps the blog up a notch. I totally welcome the idea of a video now and then.

  7. BB,I’m wondering what you think about this, in a week I’m going to order a 24″barrel foot my talonp.I’m looking forward to the extra foot pounds and speed.Here is my ques ton,if one was to turn down the power to say “2” instead of say “8”,do you think I would keep the fps.down to were I save air? In other words could I get more shots per fill at around 800 fps. verse 1000 fps.? And I would be shooting a 25 grn tru 31 grn.I would love to get more shoots with less power for hunting ans target shooting rather then a few power full shots.Age is creeping up on me and pumping is getting harder!thank you,good day!

    • Steve,

      I actually did that exact test with the Escape, which is what you are building. You will get the same 5 good shots, then the POI will move and you’ll get 5 more good shots.

      You may see one or possibly 2 additional shots, depending on your criterion for accuracy and the distance at which you shoot.


  8. Here’s a few things to note. First Airforce does make a co2 adapter. If you get an 88 gram airsoft adapter from Crosman you can use an 88 gram co2 with the airforce co2 adapter. I did this before with my condor so I know it works.

    Second, we are talking a survival gun. It’s made to be light weight and powerful. It will likely be making a bit of noise. But when survival is on the line noise isn’t usually something you worry about. To be worried about noise is a bit rare in a survival situation. I don’t think anybody here is going to need to avoid detection in a survival situation. In my lifetime I’ve had a few of those, but I was in the army at the time and the goal was not to get caught. In a civilian situation chances are you will want to be found so the noise of the gun might benefit you by helping to bring rescuers to you.

    • John
      How many shots did you get out of the 88 gram cartridge?

      And depends on what kind of survival situation your in. Noise and being seen could be a problem.

      What I always thought was funny is when I watched the cowboy and Indian movies. You would have the settlers out in the open plains and the campfires burning and the smoke going up in the air. Well it ain’t no wonder that they had the Indians attacking them.

      • I never counted the shots I got from co2 actually. I was only concerned that I could shoot my new rifle. When I got mine it was co2 powered since that was cheaper, but the bottle of co2 was too big so I couldn’t see my sights or scope properly. My solution was to put on a smaller bottle. It seemed to last quite a while and didn’t really leak. Eventually I got a spin-loc tank and haven’t used the co2 adapter since. When I got my condor they were just starting to come out with spin-loc as an accessory. It wasn’t a standard part yet. I wanted the quick fill and gauge so co2 was the lesser of evils at the time.

        Yeah, settlers going West were attacked by native americans, but look at it from their perspective. We were the invaders on their land. We were bringing supplies with us and setting up areas in their land that they no longer had for hunting, migration, we were kicking them out of their sacred places to rip them up looking for gold, later oil, other minerals. As we got greedier they were living on less of their land. We broke treaty after treaty, slaughtered Native Americans in the millions. Killed their buffalo elk and other herds, and all kinds of other atrocities. We killed more native americans than Nazi’s killed “undesirables” in all of their concentration camps and ghettos. Can you really blame the native americans for attacking us as we invaded?

        Today we don’t have issues like that. However we do have a corrupt and unconstitutional government so silence just might be an issue at some point. If it is, they make frame extenders that will dampen the noise as long as you use your air judiciously. They are light weight thin gauge aluminum so wouldn’t add any real weight. But if you are stuck somewhere and rescue teams are trying to find you, noise is an ally.

        • John
          What I was saying about when the cowboys made there campfires. If they were out in the open or even in the woods. When they made thier fires it was to easy for the Indians to locate them from the smoke trail in the sky.

          Thats why I say in certain servival situations you dont want to be seen or heard.

          Anyway do you know the part number on that Crosman adapter that you used with the 88 gram cartridge.

          • I got that. A candle can be seen in the dark up to 10 miles away. Sometimes you don’t want to be found, but it is more likely you will want to be found more times than not since you just might be in a tight spot.

            I looked around for that adapter and had no luck finding it. You might call Crosman and ask if they still make those adapters. It was a product to use 88 gram cartriges with 202 bulk fill airsoft/paintball guns. I had one here but I think I threw it away. If I find it I’ll be happy to give it to you though.

            • John
              Thanks but you dont have to give me yours.

              I will see if I can find out about the adapter when I get home tonight. I would like to have that option if my pumps would mess up and I can’t get replacement parts right away.

  9. BB (or possibly Edith) Going back to the invisible air-gunner topic – Do you think that Pyramid could publish on their website what shows they plan to attend (and perhaps what they are ‘doing’)? For instance will they be doing the usual NRA show stuff? I read on the other board Pyramid did something similar over in Pennsylvania several weeks back. Would there be the chance of bumping into the Pelletier’s at the NRA show? ON Topic – Does anyone else think that open sites would be a nice option on the 4 lb. UL rifle? At least as a back up. I don’t know about the line of sight but can see that indexing a removable front sight would be an issue with the current configuration.

  10. BB,
    Since the very first report on the Escape guns, I have been wondering about the usefulness of a PCP in such a situation as you described. Not the fantasy “zombie invasion” nor a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI (I love this last one…), but a real survival situation.
    Is it really convenient to carry a PCP that needs to be packed with a hand pump?
    As far as I can see, in a real survival situation, you will need an airgun for food, and that would come in the form of small game, so my point is that any airgun would do, probably lighter, easier to carry and more convenient to store in car, boat or plane.
    If you need your airgun for self defense, against either four-legged or two-legged predators, then you don’t need an airgun, but a real firearm!

  11. the Escape is a collaboration between AirForce Airguns and Ton Jones, the star of television’s Auction Hunters. Ton had the requirement for a survival airgun and came up with the idea of putting a longer barrel on the TalonP pistol action

    If auctions are getting that dangerous, count me out

  12. And gunfun1 i hear what your Austin’s but its not all fun and games, i hunt with margins so one day if need be I can feed my family if the worst occurs, it just happens to be a ton of fun practising and the discussion of self defense with airguns has been brought up today. An Evanix with 10 22 cal pellets pushing a thousand fps could defend your home, the fact is these things were tools first and toys later and now another tool is being stripped from our hands because they’re building everything for us supposedly. Well its time to stand up for ourselves and say no thanks.

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