Hatsan BT65 QE: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Hatsan BT65 QE
Hatsan BT65 QE air rifle

This report covers:

  • Uh-oh!
  • Shooting dynamic
  • Benjamin domed pellets
  • JSB King pelletss
  • Tried the solid bullet
  • The plan

I have quite a report for you today on the accuracy of the .25-caliber Hatsan BT65 QE precharged air rifle. This is a rifle I’ve long wanted to test because of its reputation for power and accuracy at a great price. Twenty-five caliber air rifles have become legitimate hunting guns over the past decade, mostly because of the improvements in pellets. It’s now worthwhile to think of a .25 instead of a .22 if all you want to do is hunt.

Uh-oh!

I actually went to the range a week earlier to test the rifle, but no matter which pellet I tried, the best it would do was about 5 inches at 50 yards. This rifle is really too powerful to test inside my house, so I skipped any 25-yard testing. Pellet after pellet went into large groups. I felt there had to be something wrong with the test rifle. Rather than report on a failure at the range, I contacted Hatsan, which sent me a link to one of Rick Eutsler’s videos on improving the accuracy of the rifle. After watching that video, I removed the barrel from the rifle and found that its crown had some damage.

I informed Hatsan USA, and they immediately sent me another barrel. I installed the new barrel and went to the range again last week. This time, things were different, and that’s what you’ll see today.

Shooting dynamic

I learned during the velocity test that the BT65 QE I’m testing has 16-18 good shots per fill. Since the clip holds 9 pellets, I rounded the number off to 18 shots and shot 2 clips per fill. But there was another thing happening within those 18 shots. The second 9 grouped tighter than the first 9 in every case. It took me the whole range session to confirm that. Unfortunately, I didn’t get all the testing I wanted in that one session, but I now know what needs to be done the next time I go to the range.

The single best pellet is the .25-caliber Benjamin dome. They seem to shoot well all the time. Let’s start with them.

Benjamin domed pellets

The Benjamin dome weighs 27.8 grains, which makes it a medium-weight .25-caliber pellet. When it first came out several years ago, I felt it was the answer to years of requests for .25-caliber Crosman Premiers. It was immediately one of the most accurate .25-caliber pellets on the market.

The first 9 pellets out of the BT65 went into a group that measures 1.296 inches. Within that main group, 5 of the pellets went into 0.273 inches. That’s the level of accuracy I’d been expecting from this rifle! But the entire group has to be taken into account, and it’s larger.

Hatsan BT65 QE Benjamin dome 1st 9
The first 9 Benjamin domes following a fill to 3,000 psi made this 1.296-inch group. Five of the pellets are in 0.273 inches at 50 yards!

Next, I reloaded the clip and shot the same pellet, again. This time, all 9 went into 0.925 inches. As before, there’s a smaller group of 6 pellets inside the main group that measures 0.513 inches.

Hatsan BT65 QE Benjamin dome 2nd 9
The second 9 went into 0.925 inches at 50 yards. This is what I expected from the BT65.

Before I show you some other groups, let me tell you what I think might be happening. I think this barrel is breaking in! I don’t talk about a barrel breaking in a lot, but that’s what this one seems to be doing. I’ve seen other PCP barrels start out this way and then stabilize after several hundred pellets have gone through them. After that, they’re accurate for the rest of their lives, because airgun barrels do not wear out. They last for millions of shots — just like rimfire barrels that are kept clean and undamaged.

I’m thinking that I might clean this barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound just to see if I can accelerate this break-in process. I bet you’d like to see the results of such a test? I know I would.

JSB King pellets

Another great .25-caliber pellet is the JSB Exact King. They came out a few years ago and instantly became a pellet of choice for this caliber. But on this day, they didn’t perform as well as the Benjamins. The first 9 went into 1.495 inches at 50 yards, and the group was very vertical.

Hatsan BT65 QE King 1st 9
The first 9 JSB Kings made this vertical 1.495-inch group at 50 yards.

The second 9 pellets made a rounder group that measured 1.189 inches between centers at 50 yards. This was the group that clued me into the second 9 shots being better than the first.

Hatsan BT65 QE King 2nd 9
The second 9 JSB Kings made this round 1.189-inch group at 50 yards. This was the group that made me stop and think about the accuracy between the first and second clips.

 

Tried the solid bullet

I tried the .25-caliber solid bullet that Johnny Hill of Tin Starr made for me, but they didn’t feed. I had to drive the bullet back out of the bore with a cleaning rod. Obviously, these bullets have to be sized smaller before I try this again.

This is where I’ll end the report. Although, I also tested the Predator Polymag and Beeman Kodiak pellets, I shot both before noticing how the gun was grouping on the first clip versus the second clip. These pellets didn’t get a fair chance to perform, so I’ll save them for the next accuracy test.

The plan

My plan is to remove the barrel and clean it with J-B Bore Paste, as mentioned above. I’ve examined the crown of this new barrel and see that it’s perfect, so this cleaning will possibly remove any sharp edges left from the rifling process. The result should be a barrel that shoots like one that’s been thoroughly broken-in.

The Hatsan BT65 has a well-deserved reputation for accuracy and power. If the next test pans out as I hope, I may shoot this rifle at 100 yards, like I did with the .22-caliber AT44-10 Long QE.


Qiang Yuan pellet comparison test: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Qiang Yuan pellets
Qiang Yuan is a pellet name that’s unknown in the U.S. Olympic pellets in the red box (200); Match grade pellets in the yellow box (200) and Training Pellets in the round box (500) below. These 3 will be pitted against equivalent pellets that are well-known.

This report covers:

  • Qiang Yuan Olympic Grade pellets
  • Test design
  • Sidebar: My large cent
  • FWB 300S air rifle
  • FWB 300S air rifle: Bottom line
  • Crosman Challenger PCP air rifle
  • Comparing all the Qiang Yuan pellets
  • Bottom line

Qiang Yuan Olympic Grade pellets

Today, I’m finishing the test of the Qiang Yuan pellets with a look at the performance of the Qiang Yuan Olympic Grade pellets. I mentioned in Part 2 that the Qiang Yuan Match Pellets were pricy, at $32.48 for 500 (they come packaged 200 to a box). That made them less expensive than the RWS R-10 Match Heavy pellets, which cost $47.95 for 500, but they’re still a costly pellet.

Let’s look at the Olympic Grade pellets that retail for $16.99 for 200. That works out to $42.48 for 500 — still less than the R-10 Match Heavys, but costlier than the Qiang Yuan Match Grade pellets. To be worth that price, these pellets really have to perform, so I’m pitting them against the 2 best pellets in my two test target rifles — the FWB 300S and the Crosman Challenger PCP.

Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets
Qiang Yuan Olympic Grade pellets are very uniform.

Qiang Yuan Olympic pellet package
The Olympic Grade pellets are packed in trays of 100. Two trays to a box.

Test design

All shooting is from a rest at 10 meters. No attempt will be made to target the center of the bullseye. If the group is in the black portion, it’s good enough. We’re looking for repeatability — not a score. Each gun will shoot both its best pellet and the test pellet for one 10-shot group. Center-to-center measurement of the group size will determine the success of every pellet.

Sidebar: My large cent

Reader FrankB asked this weekend if I was the person who purchased the 1792 Birch Cent recently. While it wasn’t me, I do have an old cent. In fact, Edith says I have several!

My cent was minted in 1824, and I keep it in my desk to use as a tool for things that need coins to adjust. My large cent, while not the same as the large scent of Pepe LePew, is nonetheless a standout. Someday, when my eyes and nerves start going, I’ll substitute the famous dime for this cent for target comparisons.

large cent
My large cent may someday replace the famous Louie Roosevelt dime for target comparisons.

FWB 300S air rifle

First up was the FWB 300S. Its best pellet has been the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellet. This rifle has put 5 of these pellets into less than 0.10 inches at 10 meters under these test conditions. Today, I’m shooting 10 pellets, so I expected the groups to be larger. And they were. Ten H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets went into 0.19 inches.

H&N Finale Match Rifle
The FWB 300S put 10 H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets into a group that measured 0.19 inches between centers at 10 meters.

Next, I tried the Qiang Yuan Olympic Grade pellets in the same rifle. Ten of them made a group that measured an identical 0.19 inches between centers! While this is a surprising coincidence, you cannot expect it to happen every time you shoot. All we know for certain from this single group is that the Olympic Grade pellets are very good in this rifle.

Qiang Yuan Olympic Pellet group
The 300S put 10 Olympic Grade pellets into the same 0.19 inches at 10 meters.

FWB 300S air rifle: Bottom line

The bottom line for the FWB 300S is that the Qiang Yuan Olympic Grade pellet was the equal of the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellet in this very short test. Until now, the H&N has been the best pellet for the FWB 300S, so there’s a possibility that the Chinese pellet may be just as good, if not better. It would certainly be worth further investigation if you planned to compete with the rifle.

Crosman Challenger PCP air rifle

Next, I shot the Crosman Challenger PCP target rifle. This is the rifle Ed Schultz of Crosman created, hot on the heels of the launch of the Benjamin Discovery. Once he stabilized Crosman’s PCP production line, this target rifle was a high priority for him.

Crosman had been making a CO2 version of the same rifle, but the barrel wasn’t the same quality as this one. It was a nice rifle to shoot — had a nice trigger, easy loading and good ergonomics — it just couldn’t stand up to a Daisy 853 in matches. But the Challenger PCP turned that around and moved to the front of the pack among youth target rifles. The Challenger PCP was the best target rifle in its price category until the AirForce Edge came along to give it some competition.

The best pellet for the Challenger is the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet with the 4.50mm head. Ten of them landed in the group that measures 0.184 inches between centers. Please note that this is slightly smaller than the best FWB 300S group — though the difference is really too close to measure accurately.

H&N Finale Match Pistol group
The Crosman Challenger put 10 H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets with 4.50mm heads into 0.184 inches at 10 meters.

The Qiang Yuan Olympic pellet made a smaller, rounder group in the Challenger. Ten went into 0.158 inches between centers. This is the smallest group of today’s test and, in fact, the smallest of the entire test of all three Chinese pellets.

Qiang Yual Olympic Match Pellet group
Crosman’s Challenger put 10 Olympic Grade pellets into this 0.158 inch group at 10 meters. This was the smallest 10-shot group of the entire test.

Comparing all the Qiang Yuan pellets

I didn’t expect the 3 Qiang pellets to line up as Good, Better and Best in the same way that their prices and titles seem to. And they didn’t. The inexpensive Training pellets shot better than the Match Grade pellets in both the test rifles, but the Olympic Grade pellets shot the best of all in both rifles. Clearly, this is a pellet worth considering for serious competition.

The Crosman Challenger out-shot the FWB 300S, which was another surprise. I knew it was an accurate target rifle, but not that accurate!

You have to bear in mind that these are all 10-shot groups. The 300S has turned in some 5-shot groups that were smaller than 0.10 inches in the past, and I suspect the Challenger is capable of similar accuracy.

Bottom line

The bottom line in this test is that these 3 Chinese pellets have now proven themselves. If you’re a casual shooter, I would certainly try the Training pellets in my target rifle. And if you compete, the Olympic Grade pellets are worth testing.


Airguns they should make

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Weihrauch
  • Crosman
  • Diana
  • Up for grabs — Umarex?

Today, I’m going to talk about some airguns I wish were made. I’m not talking about the fine guns of 60 years ago that were made of blued steel and nice walnut. I understand that level of hand work costs so much that it is practically impossible to build today — outside of a handmade proposition. What I’m taking about are airguns that could be made with very little risk or cash outlay by the manufacturers. The basis for some of these guns is in the inventory right now and require only minor changes to make entire new models that I believe shooters will embrace. This is how the Air Venturi Bronco was designed, and also how the $100 PCP was created.

Weihrauch

Weihrauch got rid of their HW55 target rifle a number of years ago. They had to, because they weren’t selling enough of them to keep the model alive. Precharged and CO2 target rifles had kicked spring-piston target rifles out of the market in the 1970s, and the demand for a recoiling spring target rifle ended. The guns continued to sell to private individuals who don’t shoot in competitions; but as time passed, even they began looking elsewhere. I get that! The costly HW55 had to go away.

HW 55 CM
The HW55 Custom Match was the high-water mark of the HW55 series. It didn’t sell well at the end of its life because of the price, and also because spring target rifles fell out of favor.

But Weihrauch is sitting on a goldmine of an airgun today that could be turned into a bold new product for them. Their HW30S — the little springer with the Rekord trigger — is a wonderful air rifle. If they would modify the trigger that now comes in the 30S into a target Rekord like the HW55 had, and if they would mount an inexpensive peep sight, it would be a wonderful informal target rifle. It already comes with a globe front that accepts interchangeable inserts, so nothing more needs to be done there. I think there would be a demand for this rifle.

The challenge is the retail cost. Pyramyd Air now sells an HW30S for $330. If the changes I am about to recommend could be done while keeping the retail price under $400, I think there would be a demand.

I want a stock with a longer pull. I want a target-grade trigger. I want a rear peep sight to compliment the globe front sight with its replacement inserts. The peep sight doesn’t have to be a full-blown target model. Do what Diana did and make a sporting sight by replacing the notch with a peephole.

Diana peep sight

This “target” rear sight from Diana is simply a nice adjustable sporting open sight to which they have mounted a round peep hole. This one is mounted on a Diana 25, but they also used it on the models 70, 72 and others.

The trigger modification is even easier. Hans Weihrauch Jr. told me that the target trigger in the HW55 was a standard Rekord that had a lightweight trigger return spring with a locking adjustment screw. So, do that. Just put in a lighter return spring and interrupt the adjustment screw threads to make the trigger weight adjustment screw harder to turn.

Standard Rekord trigger
The standard sporting Rekord trigger has an aluminum adjustment screw behind the blade. It adjusts the tension on the standard trigger blade return spring.

target Rekord trigger
The target Rekord has a locking sleeve around the trigger-pull adjustment screw.

The stock and new rear sight will be the two high-cost items, but even there they don’t have to spend a lot of money. They can lengthen the pull of the standard stock with spacers at the butt.

Keep the risk low by selling a limited run of this new model. Call it the HW30ST and build 200 of them. If they evaporate in a month — you’ll know what to do next!

Crosman

Crosman made a lot of epic airguns over the years, but the Crosman 600 semiautomatic pistol is perhaps the most iconic! It’s a 10-shot repeater that has a light trigger-pull and real semiautomatic operation.

Crosman 600 semiauto CO2 pistol
Crosman’s 600 semiautomatic pistol is a delight to shoot! It’s a real semiauto with a great trigger.

A 600 is a delight to shoot! So much so that people are paying premiums to get them in working order. But the 600 has a bunch of parts that are not currently made by Crosman, and it isn’t cheap to reinvent the wheel!

Don’t go that way. Don’t try to re-make the Crosman 600. Do something different. Several years ago, Crosman made a carbine called the Nightstalker. It was a 12-shot repeater that functions ALMOST semiautomatically! The Nightstalker cocks semiautomatically, but Crosman left the advancement of the circular clip up to the trigger. That boosted the trigger-pull to 7 lbs. instead of less than 2 lbs. for the 600.

Crosman Nightstalker
Turn the Crosman Nightstalker into a semiauto pistol, and you’ll recreate the 600!

Take the Nightstalker action and make it a pistol. Let the semiautomatic action also advance the cylinder so the trigger can be made light. If Crosman would make a pistol like that, I bet it would set sales records!

This project is not as free from risk and as cheap as the Weihrauch rifle is. Someone has to support it, because major changes have to be made to the action. If they do decide to undertake it, just remember — a good trigger sells guns!

Diana

Diana recently changed hands. It remains to be seen what the new owners will do.

What I would advise them to do is base a new rifle on their popular 48 platform. Most of the tooling costs should have been amortized for that model long ago.

So, what should we do? Well, the 48 has more than enough power. Let’s take some of that away by installing a weaker mainspring that is somewhat easier to cock. Let’s put the 48 on a weight reduction program with most of the weight coming out of the wood stock. Do that by slimming the stock to a more classic profile — slimmer pistol grip, slimmer forearm, and a slimmer butt that has an adjustable cheekpiece.

Eliminate the open sights and the barrel jacket that often becomes loose. Have an engineer go over the T06 trigger and refine it to be more adjustable and give it an adjustable over-travel stop.

Know what you’ve just built? A field target rifle that can compete with the TX200 Mark III and the Walther LGU.

Don’t tell me it can’t be done, or that such a rifle wouldn’t be in demand. The recoilless Diana 54 is very popular with field target shooters today. The 48 is just a version that recoils.

Look at the rifle field target shooter Ray Apelles made — and used it to win numerous championships. It’s a 54 with his custom touches. I’m not advocating that Diana build that rifle, but what they can do is within their grasp and not expensive. They have so much clay that’s just waiting to be shaped!

Apelles Diana
Ray Apelles used his modified Diana 54 to win the 2014 Pyramyd Air Cup — beating several world-class shooters who were using world-class PCPs!

Up for grabs. Umarex?

Here’s a freebie that’s up for grabs. Make an airgun replica of the Liberator pistol the U.S. made during WWII for resistance fighters. With all the interest that exists for military replica guns, the Liberator should be a snap. Only make this one last for more than 50 shots without coming apart the way the firearm did.

Liberator
The Liberator from World War II would make a fine air pistol!

Yes, I think there are a lot of opportunities that have been overlooked by airgun manufacturers. While they concentrate on high velocity and thumbhole stocks, they’re ignoring the sector of the market that has disposable cash to spend. Don’t make them faster, guys. Make them better!


Back to the basics — Scope tips: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Droop — or downward slant
  • My point is…
  • I must care about this
  • Scope placement

This series examines the task of mounting a scope on an air rifle and sighting it in. Part 2 addressed mounting a scope, but it didn’t cover all of the problem areas, so today I’ll continue the discussion.

Droop — or downward slant

I will say that 80 percent of all the firearms and airguns I have examined have some degree of downward slant of their bores in relation to the line of sight of a scope that’s mounted on them. And I will go on to say that half of those are so serious as to cause problems. The airgun term for this is droop. The firearm world has no term for it and is generally ignorant of the problem. The single firearm that doesn’t seem to have this problem to the extent mentioned here is the AR platform. Perhaps the designers recognized the problem and solved it through engineering. I don’t know, but ARs seem to be relatively droop-free.

I used to think droop was an airgun problem; and like most airgunners, I thought it mostly affected breakbarrels. It’s easy to think that way. But all powerplants, including those with fixed barrels, will droop. And most of them do. The barrel isn’t actually drooping like a limp noodle — it’s simply pointed down and away from the scope’s line of sight.

About a year ago, while helping another shooter at my rifle range resolve a scope problem with his Remington 700 rifle, I realized firearms were also infected with droop. This guy had his vertical elevation cranked up as far as it would go, and he was still shooting low. Obviously, the fix was to shim the scope on top of the rear ring saddle and under the rear of the scope. That makes the scope slant down. We did and it worked, but not completely. We got him up to the point of aim at 100 yards with 2 shims made from soda can aluminum pieces, but his scope was still cranked up too high.

The real solution was to swap the rings front and rear. And if this had been an airgun, we could have done that. But his rings only fit the rifle one way, so that fix wasn’t possible. What he had to do was install a universal scope base (actually 2 small bases) onto which a Weaver scope ring would clamp.

After this encounter, I started paying attention to firearms with scope issues and my eyes were opened! Barrel droop is a universal problem!

Do you remember the Schuetzen rifle I mention acquiring a few weeks ago? I had it out to the range and had to dial the scope’s external adjustments as high as they would go to hit the target 10 inches below the point of aim at 50 yards. The bases on my rifles were the wrong ones, and one of them had to be exchanged to give the scope the correct downward slant. The scope is also way off to the right, so a lot of adjustment has to be dialed-in to get the group centered. In this case, whoever mounted the scope on this rifle was not a careful worker. The holes have to be redrilled for the correct bases and to align the scope properly left and right.

My point is…

When you mount a scope, believe that you’re mounting it on a drooper. That’s what I do when I mount scopes, and I’m seldom disappointed. This tip, alone, is worth the entire price of today’s report!

Here’s why my tip almost always works. If the gun is, indeed, a drooper, you solve the problem during the mounting process. No need to take the scope off and start over. If the gun isn’t a drooper, you just gained a lot of additional useful elevation adjustment. The bottom portion of the elevation adjustment range (i.e., adjusting the reticle down below the midpoint) does not put the scope in peril like the top portion (adjusting up above the midpoint) does. You can always adjust down, but going up is where the problems lie.

There are a couple rare instances where my tip won’t work. One is when the gun slants up instead of down. The other is when the gun is such a severe drooper that extreme measures have to be taken. You’ll encounter these situations with only a small fraction of the guns that are scoped. And both can be fixed the same way — if you have the courage.

I wrote a blog about Bending airgun barrels that addresses what must be done to correct a severe drooping or upward-slanting barrel. This will also work when a barrel points to the right or left, though I believe the scope mount should be fully explored before you try bending a barrel this way.

I must care about this

I have spent a long time today discussing one point of scope mounting, so I must think it’s important. You would do well to consider what I’ve said.

Scope placement

The next thing I’ll address is where the scope is positioned on the rifle. It has to be close enough to your eye so the full image can be seen when the rifle’s mounted on your shoulder in the usual fashion. Some scopes, like compacts and Bug Busters, are so short they can only be mounted close enough to the eye on a few air rifles. On most rifles, the scope stop location forces you to mount the compact scope too far forward, and the image is reduced to less than optimum.

The height of the eyepiece is another consideration. Some airguns, such as the TX200 Mark III, have ultra-high cheekpieces for high-mounted scopes. All the AirForce precharged sporting rifles use high-mounted scopes.

Other guns, like the Hatsan BT65 QE I’m now testing, have adjustable cheekpieces. This makes the rifle adapt to the high scope mount it needs to clear the magazine.

Hatsan BT65 QE
The Hatsan BT65 QE (seen here at the SHOT Show) has an adjustable cheekpiece to raise the eye to the necessary high scope.

Too many shooters obsess over mounting a scope as low as possible. A low-mounted scope on the right rifle is very convenient; but on the wrong gun, it is a disaster! And a large percentage of rifles are not suited to low scopes.

There’s no accuracy advantage to mounting a scope low. Shooters will tell you that the lower the scope is mounted, the less trajectory you have to deal with — and that can be demonstrated in software ballistic programs; but if you know your rifle, it makes no difference downrange. The only advantage I see to mounting a scope low is the lessening of cant as an aiming problem.

That’s my discussion for today.


Mosin Nagant 1891 CO2 BB Rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Mosin Nagant CO2 BB gun
The Gletcher Mosin Nagant 1891 CO2 BB Rifle (gun) is extremely realistic.

This report covers:

  • Piercing the first cartridge
  • Daisy BBs
  • Hornady BBs
  • Umarex BBs
  • Shot count
  • Trigger-pull
  • Some observations about the test gun

The first Mosin Nagant 1891 CO2 BB Rifle I tested didn’t work out very well. I noted a gas leak when the first CO2 cartridge was pierced, and that started a list of problems that plagued the gun right up to the velocity test, where it failed altogether. So, I ordered a second gun from Pyramyd Air and that’s the one I’m testing today.

All the general remarks made in Part 1 still hold for this second gun. It’s just as heavy and rugged-looking as any Mosin Nagant firearm. But when I pierced the first CO2 cartridge I noticed a difference.

Piercing the first cartridge

There was no gas leakage when I pierced the first CO2 cartridge in this gun. I never heard so much as a hiss. And the gun started shooting right away.

Daisy BBs

The first 4 shots with Daisy Premium Grade BBs all registered in the 340-350 range. That was approximately the velocity at which the other gun had shot, so I thought nothing of it. But shot 5 came out at 440 f.p.s. After that, the gun shot in the 400s with everything! It was like it needed to be awakened after a long sleep. Once awake, it came to play!

I disregarded the first 4 shots and started the string with shot 5. The next 10 shots with Daisy BBs averaged 430 f.p.s. I was pausing at least 10 second per shot, if not a little more. The low on this string was 421 f.p.s. and the high was 440 f.p.s. A 19 f.p.s. spread from low to high. At the average velocity, this BB generated 2.09 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Hornady BBs

Next up were Hornady Black Diamond BBs. They averaged 437 f.p.s.; but during this string, I paused for about 2 minutes to take care of other work, and the velocity rebounded partially. The low was 426 f.p.s and the high was 444 f.p.s., and the spread was 18 f.p.s. Th muzzle energy was 2.16 foot-pounds.

Umarex BBs

The final BB I tested was the Umarex Precision Steel BB. They averaged 432 f.p.s. for 10 shots, and this time there was no unusual pause in the shooting. The low was 420 f.p.s. and the high was 446 f.p.s., so the total spread was 26 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this BB produced 2.11 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Shot count

How many shots can you expect from one CO2 cartridge? Given the rather high velocity, I estimated a lower number than I got. I figured the power might drop off after 50 shots, but shot 55 was a Daisy BB going 430 f.p.s. Shot 65 was another Daisy that went out at 394 f.p.s. That signaled the start of a long decline in velocity. Shot 75 was traveling 354 f.p.s., and shot 85 went out at 301 f.p.s. By that time, I could hear the power bleeding off. Since I didn’t want to stick a BB in the bore, I stopped shooting. Eighty-five shots from a single CO2 cartridge is a lot to get from a 400+ foot-per-second airgun.

Trigger-pull

The trigger is single-stage, and you can feel the pull as the pressure increases. It isn’t exactly creepy, as in starting and stopping, but the blade does move as the pressure increases. It breaks between 3 lbs., 4 oz. and 3 lbs., 12 oz.

Some observations about the test gun

I said in the beginning that this Mosin is exactly like the first one — other than the leak. Well, that’s not entirely true. I noticed that this gun’s removable clip that houses both the BB magazine and the CO2 cartridge does not like to be installed if the bolt is closed. It really helps to open the bolt before installing the removable clip. The hollow nose of the bolt goes around the top of the clip that contains the valve when it’s forward, and on this gun the fit of the bolt over the valve is very tight.

I note, also, that the bolt on this gun is tighter and needs more effort to cock than the bolt on the previous gun. That’s probably the fit of the bolt over the valve. It’s still much easier to work than the bolt on a Mosin Nagant firearm.

We’ve successfully gotten through the velocity testing, and accuracy comes next. I hope this gun is accurate because I really like it.


RWS Diana 45: Part 8

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

RWS Diana 45 air rifle
Diana 45 is a large breakbarrel spring rifle.

This report covers:

  • RWS Superdome pellets
  • Uh-oh!
  • RWS Hobby pellets
  • Air Arms Falcon pellets
  • Time to stop and think
  • H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.53mm head
  • Where we are

Today, we’ll look at the performance of the Diana 45 that we tuned recently. Although a new mainspring was installed, it has the same power as the spring that was in the rifle, so no vast power increase was anticipated. If there’s any increase at all, it will probably come from the new breech seal I installed. The old one was flat and hard, so the breech is probably sealing air better now.

The point of this tune was to eliminate as much vibration as we could. The rifle’s owner, Johnny Hill, did not like the buzz that came with every shot, and I told him that most or even all of that could be eliminated by tightening the tolerances inside the powerplant. At my request, he made a larger spring guide, and he buttoned the piston to take out as much vibration as possible.

Our plan worked to an extent because the rifle is now calmer, but some vibration still remains. I’ve never worked on a Diana 45 before, and this may be as good as it gets — or there may be some secrets about this model that I don’t know. This is as good as I’m able to make it shoot. I estimate that 75 percent of the previous vibration has gone away.

Now, let’s look at the velocity. The 3 pellets I tested this rifle with in Part 2 are the RWS Superdome, the RWS Hobby and the Air Arms Falcon. That’s where I’ll begin.

RWS Superdome pellets

First up are the Superdomes. When the rifle was still in factory trim in Part 3, they averaged 735 f.p.s. with an 18 f.p.s. spread. This time I got 870 f.p.s. on the first shot, but then the velocity started dropping off right away. By shot 14, the velocity was down to 803 f.p.s., where it seemed to be leveling off.

A second string of 10 shots produced an average velocity of 800 f.p.s. The high was 811 f.p.s., and the low was 787 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 24 f.p.s. I think the rifle is still breaking in and will shoot somewhat slower after a thousand shots, but it’s definitely faster than it was before the tuneup. However, there was an anomaly in this string.

At the average velocity of the second string, this pellet produces 11.8 foot-pounds of energy. I do think the average will be less after several hundred additional shots have been fired, but it’ll probably still be significantly faster than the 735 f.p.s. average before the tune.

Uh-oh!

In the middle of the second string, two shots went 509 f.p.s. and 524 f.p.s., respectively. Since the velocity on the very next shot was 804 f.p.s. and never again dropped lower than 787 f.p.s., I eliminated those 2 shots from the string and fired 2 more shots to replace them. But they did give me cause to wonder what was happening.

RWS Hobby pellets

The second pellet I tried was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. Before the tune, Hobbys were averaging 793 f.p.s. with a 28 f.p.s. velocity spread. Now they averaged 890 f.p.s. with a spread of 20 f.p.s. spread from 881 to 901 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Hobbys produce 14.6 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

But there was another single anomalous slow shot in the string that went only 603 f.p.s. I excluded it from the string like before, but now I was really starting to wonder what was happening! I didn’t think it was the chronograph’s fault, though that is something I will have to look into.

Before I move on I would like to take a moment to reflect on what this rifle is doing. The Diana 45 is one of the original Four Horsemen of the 1970s. They were the first 4 to break the 800 f.p.s.”barrier,” ushering in the era of magnum spring-piston air rifles. Back then, the Diana 45 was advertised as getting just over 800 f.p.s. and could possibly be tuned to get up to 860 f.p.s. So, the fact that this one has just averaged 890 f.p.s. makes me feel a little proud. It probably won’t last, but it’s nice to know I can do it. And, yes, I know they probably didn’t have Hobby pellets to use for testing in the 1970s, but we don’t have to go there — do we?

Air Arms Falcon pellets

Next up was the Air Arms Falcon pellet. The first shot went out at 816 f.p.s.; and after that, none of the next 6 shots went faster than 448 f.p.s. I didn’t record a string because I felt this wasn’t the right pellet for this rifle as it is now tuned.

Time to stop and think

These slow shots were beginning to concern me. Especially when I shots 6 Falcons in a row in the 400s. Was the rifle somehow failing? It felt the same every time it shot, but the numbers were telling a different story.

I thought the Falcon pellets that loaded into the breech very easily weren’t resisting the piston with enough force. Perhaps, the pellets were moving before the piston slammed home and not allowing the air pressure to build up. The lighter Hobby didn’t seem to have the same problem, except just one time. And the Hobby fit the breech much tighter.

So I decided to try a pellet that I knew would give a lot of resistance. The H&N Baracuda Match pellet with a 4.53mm head is both fat and heavy. That would surely give the piston all the resistance required.

H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.53mm head

Ten shots with H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.53mm heads gave me an average 676 f.p.s from the Diana with a 46 f.p.s. spread from 658 to 704 f.p.s. There wasn’t a single slow shot in this string. At the average velocity, this 10.65-grain pellet produced 10.81 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. By the way, the average for this pellet (676 f.p.s.) is very close to the “magic” velocity of 671 f.p.s., which is the speed at which the weight of the pellet in grains equals the muzzle energy in foot pounds.

Where we are

We now have a tuned rifle that’s ready for one last accuracy test. That will be done at 25 yards with a scoped gun. Unless something odd happens, I’ll pronounce the rifle finished and return it to its owner with a couple recommended pellets.

For kicks, I might chronograph the accurate pellets after the accuracy test — just to see if I still get a slow shot now and then. If I still do, and the pellets that do it are accurate at 25 yards, I need to look at the chronograph. Velocities can’t drop by 200 f.p.s. and not affect where the pellets land at 25 yards.

I haven’t told you yet, but this test was the first one conducted using the new chronograph Pyramyd Air sent to replace the Alpha model I shot up last week with the Benjamin Bulldog. This one is an Alpha Master that has a removable display and controller with an 18-foot cord, so now I can set the chronograph out on the range and operate it from safety. I’ll report on this chronograph after I gain some experience using it.


Talon SS versus Ruger 10/22: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle
  • AirForce Airguns Talon SS
  • The test
  • The results
  • Bottom line
  • The surprise
  • A goldmine of data!
  • The results

This report tested the relative accuracy of an AirForce Talon SS against a Ruger 10/22 rimfire. I went to the range several times to shoot all the 10-shot groups I needed, so it took some time to get to today’s report.

I had a preconception of how accurate a Ruger 10/22 was, and I knew very well how accurate an AirForce Talon SS was. I figured the Ruger didn’t stand a chance against the air rifle. If I’d used any of the standard Ruger 10/22s I have shot up to this point, things would have worked out as I expected.

Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle

But the rifle I used in this test was chosen because it surprised me with its accuracy. I got it in trade at a gun show and was surprised when I saw how well it shot. In fact, it was the accuracy of this rifle that inspired this test to begin with. I have owned a number of 10/22s and shot many others; but until this rifle came along, I’d never seen a standard Ruger right out of the box that shot this well.

10-22-Sporter
The Ruger 10/22 Sporter is surprisingly accurate.

I’ve also owned a 10/22 Target, which is Ruger’s best attempt at making an accurate rifle right out of the box. That one was very accurate and had a better trigger than the rifle I’m using in this test — 4.40 lbs. against 6+ lbs. for the Sporter. But even that rifle was not as accurate as this stock Ruger Sporter. The best 50-yard 10-shot group fired with the 10/22 Target with 8 different brands of ammo — each shot 3 times for record (240 shots in all) — was 0.608 inches between centers.

10-22 Target
My 10/22 Target was an accurate rifle, but not as accurate as this Sporter.

I even own a highly customized 10/22 that has been worked on in many ways and has a custom bull barrel. Over $800 in upgrades has been spent on this rifle, yet not even it can do as good as what I’m about to show you. The Talon SS probably could not have been challenged by a more worthy opponent than this Ruger Sporter!

two rifles profile
My customized 10/22 above and the standard carbine below. Even when $800+ was poured into the Ruger, it still couldn’t perform as well as the standard Sporter!

Johnny Hill of Tin Starr Bullets told me the reason my Ruger is so accurate is because it doesn’t have a barrel band like you find on a Ruger 10/22 carbine. Several blog readers mentioned that in the comments to Part 1. I read those comments, but it didn’t register. But, boy, it does now!

AirForce Airguns Talon SS

My Talon SS is the same one I’ve owned since the beginning of 2001. I installed a 24-inch optional .22-caliber barrel on the SS, and I have an aftermarket bloop tube silencer (frame extender — mounted to quiet the report). Besides that, the gun is stock. Stock, as in 14 years old and still using all the same parts that came with it. Though I know how to rebuild this air rifle, I’ve never been inside this one — neither inside the trigger nor inside the powerplant or valve.

Talon SS
My Talon SS is stock, except for the 24-inch barrel and frame extender that muffles the sound.

The longer barrel lets me dial back the power and still get great velocity. That means I get more shots per fill, which is my goal.

The test
For this test, I shot each rifle 10 times at 50 yards. I used the most accurate pellet I know for my SS, which is the JSB Exact Jumbo that weighs 15.89 grains, and I used the CCI Standard Speed long rifle cartridge in the Ruger. Each gun fired ten 10-shot groups at 50 yards. All shooting was done from a rest on windless days when conditions were absolutely ideal.

The results

Three best Talon SS groups

The 3 best Talon SS groups measured:
0.695 inches
0.706 inches
0.843 inches

best Talon SS groups
Three best Talon SS groups. From the left — 0.696″, 0.706″ and 0.843″.

The 3 best Ruger 10/22 groups measured:
0.545 inches
0.650 inches
0.690 inches

best Ruger groups
Three best Ruger 10/22 groups. From the left — 0.545″, 0.65″ and 0.69″.

All groups — center-to-center

Talon SS:
1.326 inches
1.296 inches
1.108 inches
1.102 inches
1.086 inches
1.052 inches
0.920 inches
0.843 inches
0.706 inches
0.695 inches

Ruger 10/22:
1.107 inches
1.101 inches
1.100 inches
1.010 inches
1.000 inches
0.930 inches
0.785 inches
0.690 inches
0.650 inches
0.545 inches

The worst Talon SS group measured 1.326 inches. The worst 10/22 group measured 1.107 inches.

two worst groups
These are the worst groups shot by each rifle. Talon SS on the left and Ruger 10/22 on the right. 1.326″ and 1.107″, respectively.

The Talon SS averaged 1.013 inches for 10 shots across all 10 groups. The Ruger 10/22 averaged 0.892 inches for 10 shots across 10 groups. On average, the Ruger’s groups were 0.121 inches smaller than those of the Talon SS.

Bottom line

The Ruger was more consistent (shot smaller groups) than the Talon SS in this test. The SS had two very large groups that were 0.326 inches and 0.296 inches greater than one inch in size, while the Ruger’s largest group was only 0.107 inches over one inch. That was where the air rifle lost most of its ground.

Can I explain why the SS shot those 2 large groups? One reason might be because the pressure was falling in the reservoir. I shot 3 groups per fill on power setting 8, which should give me 40 good shots. Because of that, I felt safe shooting only 30 shots per fill.

Even though all shots were fired in the range that was considered safe, at some point in the power curve, things might be less stable than they are at other points of the curve.

Consistency is what I was testing in both rifles, along with accuracy. At the same time the SS reservoir pressure was dropping, I was also testing the consistency of the CCI ammo in the Ruger.

I’m surprised by these results. Not that the SS did poorly, because I don’t think it did. You shoot ten 10-shot 50-yard groups with a PCP and see what you wind up with!

I didn’t pick and choose which groups to show you — these are10 groups from both rifles, just as they were shot.

The surprise

I’m surprised by the consistency of this particular Ruger 10/22. I know the 10/22 is a very popular firearm — one that I’ve tested extensively for other articles. But this particular rifle is performing beyond my expectations for all 10/22s.

To be fair, I’ll include the CCI ammunition in my statement of surprise. The CCI ammo is almost as consistent as the best target ammunition. I’ve tested CCI ammo in 10/22s for years, and this is the first time I’ve gotten results this good.

What you can do with this report is pit your own 10/22 against mine and see what happens. Or pit your best PCP against what I’ve done with the Talon SS and see how well you can do.

I doubt there are that many box-standard Ruger 10/22s that can equal this one, but I know for a fact that each and every Talon SS that comes out of the AirForce factory can do what you see here. I tested them extensively during the 3 years that I worked there; and in all that time, I found only one barrel (from thousands) that wasn’t this accurate. And that problem was fixed in 5 minutes with a barrel change!

A goldmine of data!

What I now have is a good baseline on this particular Talon SS. I can use that in other tests. For example, I can shoot several 10-shot groups with my SS mounted with an Aeon scope at 32x, and several more 10-shot groups — shooting half the shots at 8x and the other half at 14x. That will reveal if there really is scope shift as the scope’s power is changed — the way it seemed in Part 4 of the BSA Supersport SE report.

I also have an idea of how to test the Bullseye ZR scope mount used in the same article. But I’ll save the particulars of that test design until I think about it some more.

The results

A test like this one takes a lot of time to conduct and even more to compile and write. I probably have 16 total hours invested in today’s blog. They’re good hours, though, because they’ve advanced our understanding of a number of things we often take for granted. That’s the most valuable result a test like this can produce.