by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.