Air Venturi Tech Force M8: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Ari Venturi M8
Air Venturi M8 is very much like the Bronco.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Velocity
  • Conclusions
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Firing behavior
  • Evaluation so far

Today we become more familiar with the Tech Force M8 rifle. In Part One I mentioned that the powerplant on this gun is very similar to the powerplant on the Air Venturi Bronco that has been discontinued. In fact I believe it is identical. The one thing that differentiates Air Venturi and Tech Force spring rifles from Mendozas is we made them not drill a hole on the left side of the spring tube for oiling the piston seal. Low-order detonations were the way Mendoza rifles achieved their velocities, but we didn’t want that.

Several readers who already have this gun can confirm that the M8 is smooth-shooting and easy to cock. Reader Bulldawg mentioned how surprised he was at the beauty of the M8 stock. I must agree. You can see it in the photo above,and that seems to be an accurate representation. The shape is pleasing and Mendoza seems to have used some beech wood with more figure than you usually see. The stock on my test rifle is as pretty as walnut.


Today we learn just how close in performance the M8 is to the Bronco. Before I tested it I guessed it would be very close. And, for the record, here are the velocities of both guns .

Pellet………………………..Vel. Avg……………….Vel. Range……………..Spread
Hobby ……………………….558 f.p.s. ……………..538-566 f.p.s.……………..28 f.p.s.
Gamo Match…………………537 f.p.s………………534-541 f.p.s………………..7 f.p.s.
Crosman Premier 7.9……….528 f.p.s………………526-533 f.p.s………………..7 f.p.s.

Let’s look at these numbers for a moment. They are in the low to mid 500 f.p.s. range for three pellets that weigh less than 8 grains. More importantly, the spreads for two of the pellets are tight. Only the Hobby is large. If these two rifles are as alike as I think, we should see similar numbers from this M8. Let’s see what the number are right now.

Tech Force M8
Pellet………………………..Vel. Avg………………. Vel. Range…………….Spread
Hobby……………………….573f.p.s……………….548-586 f.p.s………………38 f.p.s.
Gamo Match………………..575 f.p.s……………….563-585 f.p.s………………22 f.p.s.
Crosman Premier 7.9………544 f.p.s………………532-555 f.p.s……………….23 f.p.s.


So, the M8 is very close to the Bronco. Close enough to say the powerplants are identical. The M8 is burning some oil, which is why the spreads are larger for each pellet, but notice the relationships remain the same. The Premiers have a much greater velocity spread than either of the other two pellets, and their spreads are very close.


Why is the Gamo Match pellet so much faster? It’s entirely possible that I tested the Bronco wi9th a Gamo Match of a different weight. I don’t know.

One final note — the Premiers loaded with much greater resistance than the other two pellets. Somehow that has to factor into the greater velocity spread for that pellet.

Cocking effort

The Bronco I tested (and also bought) cocks with 19 lbs. of effort. The M8 I am testing cocks with 18 lbs. There is more than that amount of variation within one specific model, so I am now positive these guns share the same powerplant.

Trigger pull

As you know, the M8 has a 2-stage trigger. And it has 2 blades, as well. The first blade can be thought of as stage one. When it comes back even with the second blade, you have arrived at stage two and the gun is ready to fire. Stage 2 has no discernible creep, though I cannot call it glass-rod crisp, either. When I used the trigger-pull gauge I could feel a slight hint of creep before the release, but my finger could not detect it. I have a sensitive trigger finger that is used to 18-oz. (500-gram) triggers on 10-meter pistols, so I doubt that one shooter in a hundred will ever feel any creep in this trigger.

The trigger broke at an average 1 lb. 12 oz. It’s not adjustable, but this is as light as any sporting airgun trigger should ever be.

The ambidextrous safety is automatic. It comes on when the rifle is cocked and is easy to push off with the thumb.

Firing behavior

The M8 is as calm as a non-buttoned piston ever gets. Compared to most other spring guns today, it is superior.

Evaluation so far

So far the Tech Force M8 appears to be a Bronco without sights but with a better stock. Those of you that have them can talk about them all you like — don’t wait for me. Accuracy comes next and I think I’ll start at 10 meters.

The Bug A Salt 2.0

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Bug-A-Salt 2.0.

This report covers:

  • Enter the Bug-A-Salt 2.0
  • How the gun works
  • Automatic safety
  • Testing the Bug-A-Salt 2.0
  • Patterning
  • Best projectiles
  • Other insects?
  • Aerial shooting
  • Not at Pyramyd Air

I’m writing today’s report in memory of Edith, because she asked me to. She was fascinated by this little insect zapper, and when it was advertised on television recently she bought two for us. Like everyone, we have occasional houseflies that annoy us whenever we sit still. It’s especially bothersome when we are trying to watch television. For many years I killed them with a rubber band, but that was troublesome and Edith never was able to do it, so I was the designated fly-killer in the house.

Our three cats will watch flies all day long without doing much more. One of them — Dale Evans — a little female calico, even catches them for sport. But it’s a catch-and-release program for her — the number of flies stays pretty constant.

Several years ago we bought one of those electronic tennis racquet-looking things that electrocutes flies on the wire grid of the racquet head. They’re great and they really do work, but Edie got cocky and took on a couple wasps with one. When you whack a wasp inside your house you want to make sure it stays down. Otherwise you’ll be chased around your own home, and that’s never a good thing. So Edie whacked the wasps pretty hard and she broke the handle of the swatter against some furniture. The racket still works — it’s just not much fun to use because the handle is taped together.

Many years ago the Beeman Company started selling a pistol-like fly swatter. When Beeman was sold to the Chinese, the fly swatter went off the market for a time, then Pyramyd Air brought it back under the Air Venturi brand name.

Air Venturi Fly Swatter
Air Venturi fly swatter gives you the pleasure of shooting the flies with a gun.

I haven’t test that one yet, but I know how it works in principal. The round swatter is propelled from the gun by a spring and kills the flies on impact, just like a normal swatter. It’s tethered to the gun so you can recover it quickly and reload.

Enter the Bug-A-Salt 2.0

But the Bug-A-Salt 2.0 is a real gun! It’s a shotgun whose charge is common table salt. One fill of the reservoir is enough for 80 shots, and a clear cap on the reservoir tells you what’s inside. I can’t tell whether the powerplant is a catapult, where just the power of the spring propels the salt, or if it is a spring-piston, which would be much more powerful. What I do know is it works — and it works at distances I would not have believed before I tested it.

The salt reservoir holds enough for 80 shots. The cover is clear so you always know the status of the charge.

Yes, there was a first model. It was much less powerful than the 2.0, and it held salt for 50 shots.

How the gun works

The Bug-A-Salt 2.0 is entirely plastic on the outside. It has an orange tip to signify it isn’t a firearm, but I got the yellow gun that looks nothing like a firearm. There is now a camo model for those who hunt flies while dressed in a ghillie suit.

Cock the gun by pulling back on the sliding handhold under the forearm. It’s sculpted to fit the hand for an easy grasp. Not much force is required to cock the gun, but every time you do the automatic safety is set. You must then rotate the safety switch forward before the shot can be taken.

Automatic safety

The automatic safety is the only feature that bothers me about this gun. It’s ergonomically located to allow access by the shooting hand when holding the gun, but I want to just cock and shoot. If there are many targets, its a hassle to have to keep taking the safety off every time. Maybe that is why there is a You Tube video showing how to disable the mechanism. I’m not going to do that to my gun, though, because — let’s be honest — this isn’t a gun I use that much. I just want it when I need it and I can put up with how the safety is designed.

The safety comes on automatically every time the gun is cocked. Push forward to fire.

Testing the Bug-A-Salt 2.0

When I first got it, our house was unnaturally free of insects for a week. Just prior to the package arriving I had killed 2 flies using rubber bands. So the first test was out at my rifle range! We always have a lot of flying bugs out there and I killed 2 common houseflies the first time I used the gun. Both flies disappeared when shot, moving in line with the direction of the salt.

I also discovered at this time that a good substitute for a fly is an empty .22 rimfire cartridge — and there are plenty of them on the ground at a rifle range. They are light enough to move when hit by the salt, so you can learn how to aim your gun without the need for flies.

I should mention that the 2.0 version of the gun does have a front and rear sight. The rear sight only pops up when the gun is cocked. Maybe it will help some people, but I just point and shoot.

Then I finally found a bug in my house. Not a housefly, mind you, but some sort of beetle-looking thing about the same size. I shot it from 2 feet and blew it away — despite the beetle’s outer shell. This was a smaller beetle whose shell wasn’t as hard as some of them get. I wouldn’t shoot this at a Texas water beetle! Those things have been known to scare cats!


Okay, let’s see how this thing shoots. Bug-A-Salt recommends using household tinfoil as a medium for patterning. And they recommend using ordinary table salt. They don’t specify whether it needs to be iodized, but mine wasn’t.

I shot the tinfoil from 30 inches back and got a larger pattern than the Bug-A-Salt literature says — about 3 inches, rather than the 2-1/4 inches shown in the literature than comes inside the box. The difference might just be in where the pattern is declared to start and stop. The pattern is so dense that nothing inside would have been missed by the salt crystals. I then backed up to 36 inches and shot a second time. This pattern was larger by nearly an inch, but the inner pattern was still dense enough to hit any fly. I think I would get as close as I could, but from what I’ve seen I would not hesitate to shoot from 30 inches. That is so much better than the 1-2 inches I have to be from the fly when using a rubber band!

This is the pattern for table salt at 30 inches. The pattern is round, with evenly dispersed salt crystals.

The pattern at all the useful distances is both round and the salt crystals are evenly distributed throughout.

Best projectiles

The internet is loaded with chatter about the best projectiles to use in this gun. Besides table salt, poppy seeds are recommended in many places. John McCaslin, the owner of AirForce Airguns, told me he has found kosher salt to work better than straight table salt. That’s because the salt crystals are larger. I haven’t tried that yet, but it makes sense. Maybe you should think of table salt as number 6 birdshot and kosher salt as buckshot.

One thing you do need to know is this gun is very safe to use, as long as you respect it. Yes, there will be salt on the floor after each shot, but I have shot mine in the house for this report and have yet to see any granules lying about. Maybe that’s a blessing granted by my advancing years? Anyhow, I vacuum and dust often enough to take care of it. It isn’t like I shoot a fly every day.

The fly will not be splattered. It stays whole, but dead. You will be able to find it after the shot, but expect it to move several feet from the impact.

Other insects?

Here is where it starts getting dicey. I would use this gun on insects that are known to have softer bodies, with the common house fly at the top of the list. However, as the insect becomes more armored, I would consider carefully whether this is the best method. Yes, the wings of a wasp are probably damaged by the blast, but I would be more careful about an insect that can fight back. Spiders, on the other hand, usually have softer bodies and I would take my chances. However, since some of them are venomous, I would not recommend picking one up until it has been thoroughly squashed.

Aerial shooting

Almost everyone who sees a Bug-A-Salt for the first time wonders if it is suited for arial targets. I would have to say no. Flies usually move so fast that they are hard to see in flight when they get close enough to shoot, plus this gun is as far from a natural pointing shotgun as it is possible to get. It doesn’t cost anything to try, though. Decide for yourself.

Not at Pyramyd Air

I know you are wondering whether Pyramyd Air will carry this gun. I would advise them not to, because the gun is widely sold through discount channels that have destroyed any potential for making a profit. That’s something Pyramyd Air must consider for every item they stock. They might sell a couple thousand salt guns in a year’s time, but the profit margin is so low that it would actually drain their cash to handle it. If you aren’t into retail operations this statement might sound absurd, but not everything that sells is good for a company.

That’s my review of the Bug-A-Salt 2.0. We bought 2, which I consider to be a lifetime supply. Yes it will wear with use and yes, there are some parts available, but let’s face it — this is not an heirloom airgun. What is is, though, is one of the cleverest ways I’ve seen for dealing with the common housefly.

How to write a guest blog

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Guest blog requests
  • The legal stuff
  • The technical stuff
  • Other stuff
  • Hank’s questions
  • B.B.’s faults

Guest blog requests

Reader Vana2, whose real name is Hank, suggested today’s topic and it is a perfect one. We ask people who want to write a guest blog to contact us before they send anything in, because there are several things they need to know. The first thing to do is contact us. We always say please email us at the start of each guest blog, and that link opens an email window for your contact message.

When we answer you, sometimes we ask what your blog is about. Most of the time, though, people tell us what they want to write about up front, so we can get right into the instructions. The first part is the legal stuff. Here is what we say:

The legal stuff

I understand you want to write a guest blog for Pyramyd Air’s Airgun Academy. To accept a guest blog for publication, you must agree to abide by the following 2 (two) rules.

1. Any blog content that Pyramyd Air accepts & publishes (text & images) is the sole property of Pyramyd Air and cannot be duplicated or reproduced in whole or in part in any form. Pyramyd Air is the sole copyright owner of all images and text it publishes any in any media or form.

2. Pyramyd Air has the right to edit, use, or not use all or part of any guest blog submission. If we do not use your guest blog, then you retain all rights. Submitted content and graphics must be free of any other copyright reservations.

Here’s why we do this. First, Pyramyd Air may want to use the information in the guest blog in some other way in the future. To do that legally, they must own the rights to the material.

Then there is the subject of the rights to the photos and other images in the guest blog. Sometimes these images are copyrighted and someone has copied them — thinking that anything that’s on the internet is free and in the public domain. That’s not always the case. When you submit an image with your guest blog, it is your responsibility to see that you have permission to do so.

The technical stuff

When you send the article, send it in rtf (rich text format — preferred format). Please DO NOT send anything in a word processing program like Microsoft Word. Those programs use characters that are not compatible with the internet and it take me many hours to convert a document from Word to rtf. You may have seen some strange characters in the messages posted to this blog — that’s why.

Please send images separately, not embedded in the article. But indicate where they are supposed to go. Give them titles that mean something — like Revolver-with-cylinder-open. That makes more sense than the names your cellphone cameras and digital cameras assign.

Jpg images should be 72 dpi and a max of 560 pixels wide. The height is variable, although we’ll reduce the photos if they’re over 730 pixels high. Crop the thing in the photo so it fills the frame. Nobody wants to look at the black silhouette on a rifle that’s laying on a table in the shade — especially when it is only 200 pixels long.

I have written several reports on taking digital photos for this kind of work. You can find two of them here. And here is a 4-part report I did that goes into even more detail.
Don’t let a lack of photos or poor photos stop you from submitting a guest blog. I have soft ware that can enhance things on my end. Just do the best you can and remember — edith and I have taken good photos and videos for this blog from our cell phones and mini iPads. The technology has really improved.

Other stuff

Let us know if we can use your real full name for the byline or if you prefer a handle that you use in your blog comments.

Hank’s questions

Now, let me share Hank’s specific questions with you.

Q. Do you have a template for what fonts, sizes, margins etc. that you could share that should help getting things started?

A. As long as you submit the blog in .rtf, most of these concerns will be taken care of. At the least they will be easy to change.

Q. What format do you prefer? .doc .docx .rtf .txt?

A. I prefer .rtf, but any simple test program will output files that are easy to use. The Word files (.dox, .docx) are the ones that give me trouble.

Q. What size and resolution of pictures works best?

A. The pictures should be in .jpg or .jpeg. They should be 72 dpi, but some cell phones output them at 96 d.p.i. and I can easily change that.

Q. How long can the blog be?

A. Please try to either hold it to 1500 words and 5 pictures or less, or think about serializing it. I will tell you that Parts 2 and 3 have less readership than Part 1 most of the time. And a longer blog really loses viewership.

Q. I’m fairly comfortable writing documents, drawing sketches and editing images and would be willing to work with others who want to write a Guest blog but don’t have access to the editing software.

A. I can do the editing — as long as the writer is willing to work with me. The photos and drawings can just be scanned in and sent and I can take care of the rest.

B.B.’s faults

I wish Edith were here to write this for me, but here goes. I am colorblind. Some of the pictures come out odd tones because things look different to me than they look to a normal-sighted person.

A second reason the pictures might look odd is I enhance them to show all the detail. Edith used to fight with me because I made black guns look gray or even golden. I did it to show all the details in the nooks and crannies, but Edith thought it made the guns appear artificial. She was right, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I want to see everything in the shadows.

I am not a very hip person. My social development ended in 1964 and anything that happened after that escapes me. So, if you make some obscure reference I probably won’t get it.

Edith’s list was longer, I am sure. Maybe you have figured that out on your own. My point is, don’t count on me to be clever for you.

How to write

Write like you are telling a friend something he wants to know. Don’t use jargon and don’t assume that everyone knows the things you know. Don’t talk down to your reader but inform him, because he needs to know what you know about your subject. In short, write like you like to read.

TAC-4.5 BB gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

TAC 4.5 BB gun
The TAC-4.5 from ASG is a 21-shot BB repeater.

This report covers:

    • Accuracy day
    • Air Venturi zinc BBs
    • Daisy BBs
    • ASG Blaster BBs
    • Air Venturi copper BBs
    • The 2015 Texas Airgun Show
    • Door prize
    • Big bore match
    • Raffle prizes
    • Action pistol competition
    • A firearm show — too
    • Reception

Accuracy day

Today we learn whether the TAC-4.5 BB gun from ASG can shoot. We already know it is quiet, has a nice trigger and is very conservative with gas. Accuracy is the cherry on the sundae. The distance was 5 meters.

Air Venturi zinc BBs

The first BB tested was an Air Venturi silver (zinc-plated) BB. Seven of them went into an incredible 0.727 inches at 5 meters. The other 3 BBs opened the group to 1.877 inches. I think those 3 shots were caused by aiming errors, because the front sight has an red fiberoptic bead that is larger than the entire bull on a 10-meter rifle target.

TAC 4.5 BB gun Air Venturi BBs
Ten Air Venturi silver BBs went into 1.877 inches at 5 meters, but 7 of them went into just 0.727 inches.

I shot the gun off an MTM shooting bench, using the bipod that came with the gun. If that hadn’t been as stable as I liked I would also have shot it off a UTG Monopod. But the bipod that’s packed with the gun is very stable.

Daisy BBs

Daisy Premium Grade BBs were loaded next. Ten went into 1.486 inches. These BBs were the most variable in size in Part 2 when I measured them, but they did okay on paper.

TAC 4.5 BB gun Daisy BBs
Ten Daisy BBs went into 1.486 inches at 5 meters.

ASG Blaster BBs

Next in line were ASG’s own Blaster steel BBs. Ten of them went into 1.716 inches, but one of them was a flier. Nine are in a tight 1.025 inches. As I said before, that front bead is so large that I’m sure there was a large error from aiming.

TAC 4.5 BB gun Blaster BBs
Ten ASG Blaster BBs went into 1.716 inches inches at 5 meters, but 9 of them are 1.025 inches.

Air Venturi copper BBs

The last BB I tried was the copper-plated Air Venturi BB. Ten of these went into 1.582 inches at 5 meters. I though they would be the best, when in fact they were in the middle of the accuracy scale.

TAC 4.5 BB gun Air Venturi copper BBs
Ten Air Venturi copper-plated BBs went into 1.582 inches inches at 5 meters.

Overall evaluation

I think the ASG TAC-4.5 is a fine BB gun. It’s quiet, gets great gas mileage and has a good trigger. Accuracy isn’t stellar, but I think that’s more on the front sight than on the overall gun. If you like quiet BB guns, this one is for you.

The 2015 Texas Airgun Show

Just a reminder that the Texas Airgun show is coming up fast. Edith asked me to go through with the show regardless of what happened, so of course I will do it for her.

Door prize

This year’s door prize will be a Condor SS, generously donated by AirForce Airguns. Everyone who pays admission to the show will have an equal chance to win this fine sporting PCP that AirForce will accessorize with a scope, rings and perhaps a bipod. That’s a lot to win for the price of admission! And, if our estimates are correct, there should only be 500-600 people attending the show (about 400 came last year), so your chances of winning are very good. The competitors in the big bore airgun match (LASSO) will get admission to the show and a chance at the door prize included included in their $20 match entry fee.

Big bore match

Speaking of the LASSO big bore match, it’s back, after 3 years hiatus. There are 2 classes — varmint (under .40 caliber)  and big game (.40 caliber and larger) and they will compete on a course that extends out to 250 yards. The targets are challenging and realistic for hunters.

For the grand prize Crosman Corporation has generously donated the very .357 Bulldog rifle that I tested for this blog and also wrote up in the color issue of Shotgun News that’s currently on the newsstands. Not only will the scoped rifle be awarded, it will come with a certificate of authenticity signed by me that proves it was used for the feature magazine article. The winner will also get a copy of the color issue of Shotgun News that contains that article. And Crosman has included two boxes of their Benjamin Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets. This is a very important grand prize!

Raffle prizes

In addition to the door prize there will also be several raffle prizes — drawn throughout the show. Among them are a .357 Carnivore QE big bore rifle from Hatsan USA, a Diana RWS model 34 from RWS USA, a Legends P.08 Blowback pistol from Umarex USA, an Airburst MegaBOOM Supersonic Target System with pump from MegaBOOM and several smaller prizes from Umarex USA. Pyramyd Air has not yet announced the airgun they will donate (my fault, not theirs), but I expect it to be another very desirable airgun. And there are other dealers attending who may still donate to the raffle drawings.

Action pistol competition

MegaBOOM and Umarex USA are also hosting an action pistol match that’s open to the general public. Just pay the nominal entry fee and the guns and ammo will be supplied. The targets are all MegaBOOM action targets and the MegaBOOM company has said there will be a nice cash prize for the winner. All proceeds for the match will be donated to the Parker County Sportsman Club that hosts the airgun show.

A firearm show — too

One special thing about this show is that firearms are permitted as well as airguns. You have to be a Texas resident to buy and sell firearms, and all federal and state regulations apply. I also know that a famous maker of automatic knives will have a table and will be selling some fantastic creations. Automatic knives are now legal in the state of Texas.

Last year we had several tables with firearms and people who just attended also brought them to the show. This year I expect a lot more firearms because the members of the Parker County Sportsman Club that is hosting the show saw the huge turnout we had at last year’s show. And the crowd came to stay all day and had lots of money in their pockets. So if you are a Texas resident, don’t miss this chance to attend a dynamic gun show!


The evening before the show we will host a reception at the Texas Star Ranch and Retreat. It’s located along the road that runs from the hotel to the gun club, so show-goers will be able to find it quite easily. The reception starts at 6 p.m. and run to 8 p.m., during which we will film a special segment of the Round Table for the American Airgunner show. We are going to try to get some audience participation into this one. Light refreshments will be available, but have your dinner either before you come or after.

HW 35 Luxus: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

HW35 Luxus.

This report covers:

  • Barrel droop
  • First pellet
  • Next pellets
  • Bottom line

Before I begin, I must tell you that my wife, Edith, passed away yesterday, Sunday, July 26 at 10 a.m., Central. She was under sedation and unaware of what was happening.

Edith Gaylord will be missed.

Edith wanted me to tell you what happened. We actually talked about it last week. I am not in a frame of mind to write much these days, but I promised her the blog would carry on. Those of you who visit my socnets could help me by posting a comment regarding this, because I haven’t got the time to go there.

I said I would come back to this rifle and mount a scope because so many of you asked me to. Today is the day.

Barrel droop

If you remember, my HW35 Luxus has severe barrel droop, so mounting a scope is a challenge. I used a prototype UTG drooper scope base and mounted an AirForce 4-16X50 scope in 2-piece UTG Max Strength high rings. That put the scope too high for comfort, but it was the only mount I had at the time. I had to rest my chin on the comb to see through the scope.The HW35 Luxus has visible barrel droop

The HW35 Luxus has visible barrel droop.

First pellet

The first pellet I tried was the one that did best in the test with open sights — the Qiang Yuan Training pellet. With open sights I was able to shoot 10 into 0.986-inches and 0.898-inches at 25 yards.

With the scope mounted I put 10 into 1.574-inches, but 7 of them are in 0.724-inches. From this target I learned 2 things. First, the rifle shoots the same with a scope and with open sights. And second, it is very sensitive to how it is held. If I played with the hold I am sure I could tighten the group up to equal the best group with open sights.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets
Ten pellets in 1.574 inches, but 7 of them are in 0.724 inches. The placement of the hand with the artillery hold is critical.

Next pellets

I tried Air Arms Falcon pellets, but after 7 shots the group grew to 2.148 inches and I stopped shooting. I also tried Crosman Premier light pellets with 4.55mm heads, but they scattered everywhere. The same pellet with a 4.54mm head landed 10 in 1.982-inches. That’s not a good group, but it does show the difference the head sizes can make.

Crosman Premier light
Ten Premier lites with 4.54mm heads went into 1.982 inches at 25 yards

Bottom line

My HW35 Luxus is very hold-sensitive! I’m sure I can make it shoot tighter, but I don’t think I want to try. This is a perfect gun for open sights and that’s how I will keep it from now on. And this is the last test I will do with this rifle.

Reality check

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Update on Edith
Edith was transferred back to the ICU because her oxygen level had dropped low. Her doctor ordered X-rays and a CAT scan to try to find out what is happening. The Guillain Barre Syndrome has been fully treated now, but here is the deal. The myelin sheaths on her nerves has been destroyed and hasn’t regenerated yet. With GBS it will do so, but it takes time. Imagine a complex electronic device that’s submerged in water all the time. Then the insulation get’s stripped off the wires. That’s what has happened to Edith.

They found large blood clots in her veins in the lungs, so she was fitted with a mask to force pure O2 into her lungs. They are worried that the clots may grow and obstruct her blood flow, so they put a clot filter in her inferior vena cava. And they are giving her blood thinners through the IV to keep the clots from growing. The next 48 hours are very critical to her.

Her brother is coming up from Houston to visit her this weekend, and of course I will see her every day. I will keep you informed.

This report covers:

  • “My son is an excellent baseball pitcher…
  • “I need a new airgun…
  • Equipment doesn’t win
  • Sometimes new is better
  • Practice
  • Scoring 10-meter pistol targets
  • My score improved
  • The leesson

I was going to publish a different report today, but Wednesday’s blog seemed to resonate with a lot of you. Something Duskwight said hit home the hardest for me. A scoped rifle doesn’t make you a sniper. Boy, is that profound! Let’s explore that topic this weekend.

“My son is an excellent baseball pitcher…

… and I think that makes him a good candidate to compete in air pistol at the Olympics.” Yes, someone actually once said that to Edith. It wasn’t that direct, of course, but it was that absurd. It’s similar to, “My four-year-old daughter listens to classical music all the time and I’m thinking of sending her to Juilliard to become a concert pianist.”

People love their kids and grandkids, but actual world-class talent isn’t that common. Yes, extreme application of study and practice can work wonders, but real talent is invaluable. Besides that — whoever said that man’s son wants to be an Olympic air pistol competitor? Maybe he wants to be a major-league baseball pitcher, instead. To which he might answer, “Oh, he’s too short for that. He’ll be good, but he’ll never make the majors. His arms are too short”

Well, how many Olympic air pistol champions do you think there are in the U.S.? A heck of a lot less than the number of major-league baseball pitchers! In fact, there are probably fewer Olympic-ranked air pistol shooters in the U.S. than there are pitchers on one major-league team.

“I need a new airgun…

… because my field target/10 meter match score hasn’t improved in the past year.” And guess what, folks? It isn’t going to improve until you lose 30 lbs., stop drinking caffenated coffee, start walking/running/swimming 7 days a week and generally take better care of yourself. If you compete in air pistol there are also upper body exercises you need to start and stick with.

“What? I said I want to compete in field target — not run a marathon!”

Take a look at the winners of field target matches — not the local matches, but those who win the national and world matches. Do they look like they are out of shape? This is the reason shooters are also called athletes. Not that they can run 100 meters in 10 seconds, but they do take care of themselves –realizing that their bodies are an important part of the shooting equation.

Just as a new car will not make you a better driver, so a new airgun will not make you a better shooter. The exception to this is the guy who has been shooting his father’s Diana 35 in local 10-meter matches for the past 20 years and suddenly he comes into a Crosman Challenger PCP. Yes, in his case, the much better equipment will add points to the score. And the 10-meter pistol competitor who upgrades from a Daisy Avanti 747 to an FWB P44 will gain some points, as well. But those gains will stop unless the shooter practices more with the new equipment.

I have seen shooters in the field target game buy one rifle after another — searching desperately for the one that made them as good a shooter as the person shown in the ads for the same gun. I’m talking about rifles that cost $2,000 to 4,000. I believe our reader, Bulldawg, is currently engaged in an experiment to “educate” some folks who are of that opinion. I refer to his work to get his Benjamin Marauder to shoot as accurately as some much more expensive European PCPs.

I have seen the same thing with scopes. In fact, I once saw a scope ring set that cost $500 (in the 1990s, no less!) that was purchased to improve the shooter’s score.

Equipment doesn’t win

The fact is — equipment doesn’t win. People win. That is not to ignore nor downplay genius, when it is encountered. If there is a master violinist, someone gets him an instrument worthy of his talent. But for the rest of us fiddle players, almost any old thing with strings will do. The neat thing about airguns is that for only about $3,000 a person can own a target rifle capable of winning the Olympics. And if you’re on a budget, $600 will get you an FWB 300S that is almost as good and nearly as accurate. You can’t do that in most other sports, and you certainly can’t do it with violins! To paraphrase reader Duskwight, owning a Stradivarius doesn’t make you Yahudi Menuhin.

Sometimes new is better

We treasure vintage airguns because of the craftsmanship that went into their construction. And (Bulldawg and others, please forgive me) we treasure vintage Detroit Iron for the same reasons. But, when was the last time you had to set the points on your wife’s Toyota minivan? Never, right? Adjusting engine valves is becoming a lost art, where I used to carry a feeler gauge, wrench and screwdriver in the glovebox of my VW Beetle. I could tell you the timing in my sleep, and I had a timing light hanging in my garage like the rest of you dinosaurs. I haven’t timed an engine in the last 20 years — because I haven’t had to! My car engines just run as long as I pus gas in the tank and change the oil.

Before you explode, I acknowledge you gearheads who still live in that world. That is your fascination and I appreciate it. I also love the world of vintage airguns, so in a sense, we are connected in that way. You have read about me oiling the piston seal in my vintage Weihrauch HW35. But I haven’t oiled the piston in my Beeman R1 in the last 10,000 shots! I haven’t had to, because the use of synthetic seals and high-tech lubricants makes it unimportant. They just last and keep on doing their thing.

The new spring guns have good power without the horrible cocking effort they needed just 15 years ago. The new gas springs are actually easy to cock and get reasonable power. Manufacturers are using buttoned pistons (pistons with bearings around their sides to stop vibration), better mainsprings, better triggers and better barrels than we were seeing just 20 years ago. Yes there is still a lot of room for improvement, but today’s makers know that a Rekord trigger is the standard and they are taking their corporate heads out of the sand. In short, the technology is improving.


I’m sure you have heard the one about the tourist in New York who asked the local how to get to Carnegie Hall and the answer was , “Practice, man. Practice.” Funny, but also true.

When I competed in 10-meter pistol I tried to practice an hour each day. I thought I was really going all out, until I read that most Olympic champions dry-fire for 4 hours a day and shoot a full match (60 shots for a man) on top of that. And that is over and above the other 4 hours they spend on physical conditioning. What I had been doing was the airgun equivalent of practicing my piano for 45 minutes while I watched the clock!

I was writing The Airgun Letter at the time and thought I would see if this dry-fire thing really worked. So I upped my practice time to 2 hours of dry-fire and then shot a full match every day, 5 days a week. The first thing I noticed is that I really blew through those expensive target pellets fast! A tin was gone in a little more than a week. I had been buying pellets one tin at a time, but I upped it to 10 tins to cover the use.

The next thing I noticed was I could see the front sight much more clearly than ever before and because my pistol did not recoil, I knew where every pellet went. I started scoring myself after each shot from the image of the front sight when the shot broke. My scores that I was calling were uncannily correct, too. I could call a 9 or an 8 and I knew when I shot a 10 every time.

10 meter pistol target
The inner circle is a perfect 10 that’s used for breaking ties. The next circle (arrow) is the actual 10-ring. The circle to the right of the 8 is the 9-ring, and the space between that circle and the smaller circle where the pellet rests is the scoring zone for a 9. It is unmarked to keep the target from becoming too cluttered.

Scoring 10-meter pistol targets

The smallest ring in the center of the target is a perfect 10. On other targets it would be called the X-ring and would be used to break ties. The larger ring around it is the actual 10-ring used for scoring a match. After the match finishes, the top shooters fire 10 more shots that score fractionally. For only this final 10 shots the smallest inner circle is rated a 10.9 (if your pellet is perfectly inside) and a pellet that just breaks through the second scoring ring out scores a 10.1. This is how they differentiate shooters who never miss the 10-ring.

My score improved

I was telling you that I increased my practice time with the pistol and in the very next regional match I added 23 points to my score! I advanced in the NRA national standings. That proved to me that practice and not equipment is what wins matches.

All this time I was shooting a $400 Czech target pistol called the Chameleon that is not even close to the quality level of a top 10-meter pistol, yet it is capable of shooting a near-perfect score. As I continued the practice I started to see the next scoring plateau, which would advance me another 15 points, taking me to the national champion level. I actually shot that well in practice, but my match scores were always 10–12 points less, which is pretty normal.

It was at this point in my competitive career that I started to feel the real need for a better air pistol. But certain things happened that caused me to stop competing, so I never rose to that level. I saw it, but never achieved it. But the additional practice was definitely what made the difference — expecially the dry-firing.

The lesson

Today’s lesson is simple. Buy that better airgun if you want it, but don’t do it thinking that it will make you shoot better. Only practice can do that. Of course when you do practice, do so with the best pellets you can find and learn how your gun wants to be treated.

TAC-4.5 BB gun: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

TAC 4.5 BB gun
The TAC-4.5 from ASG is a 21-shot BB repeater.

This report covers:

  • ASG Blaster BBs
  • Daisy BBs
  • Air Venturi BBs — silver
  • Air Venturi BB container is the best!
  • Air Venturi BBs — copper
  • ASG velocity for the TAC-4.5
  • This BB gun is quiet!
  • Shot count
  • Trigger pull
  • Overall evaluation

Today is the velocity test of the TAC 4.5 BB gun. This airgun operates on a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge that is housed in the grip. In Part one I showed you how the spring-loaded backstrap flips back to reveal where the cartridge goes.

I noted there was very little gas escape when I pierced the cartridge, and the gun seems very quiet. But a hole in the backer cardboard told me the gun definitely shot.

ASG Blaster BBs

I’m going to get right to it today. The first BB I’ll test is ASG’s Blaster steel BB. I measured 5 of them, and the diameter ranged from 0.171 inches to 0.173 inches. One of the five was out of round by a thousandth of an inch. The other four were regular. This BB is on the smaller side of what is normal for BBs today (0.171 to 0.173 inches), and the variation in size is greater than I have seen. We will see what that means, as far as accuracy is concerned.

These BBs averaged 364 f.p.s. The high was 407 and the low was 344 f.p.s. That’s a 63 f.p.s. spread. The decline in velocity was very linear, despite my waiting a minimum if 10 seconds between shots.

Daisy BBs

Next to be tested were Daisy Premium Grade BBs. They are the standard BB I use in many of my tests, because they are so uniform and accurate — I thought. I measured 5 of them and got a range of 0.1695 inches to 0.172 inches, which is both smaller and a lot greater spread than I was expecting. They averaged 355 f.p.s., with a high of 370 and a low of 350 f.p.s. The velocity drop was steady until they hit 350 f.p.s., then they stayed there. The spread with this BB was only 20 f.p.s, so they are much more consistent, if not quite as fast.

Air Venturi BBs — silver

I noticed that Air Venturi has brought out a line of BBs, so I ordered some and decided to start testing them with the TAC-4.5. The silver (zinc-plated) BBs measure 0.1715 to 0.172 inches, which is more uniform than the first 2 BBs tested. They also measure as perfect spheres. In the TAC 4.5 they averaged 375 f.p.s. with a high of 405 f.p.s. and a low of 363 f.p.s. The high was in the middle of the string — the first shot after I had to take an unscheduled break from testing, and more than 5 minutes had elapsed, so the 62 f.p.s. spread was artificially high. The velocity dropped on each shot as it had with the first 2 BBs, but it seemed to bottom out in the mid 360s. I will also include this new BB in the accuracy testing.

Air Venturi BB container is the best!

Before I move on, I want to say a word about the plastic bottle the Air Venturi BBs come in. It is the best BB container I have ever seen! It has a pour spout that comes to you already open, so there is no need to cut stiff plastic and risk cutting yourself. And the pour spout is just the right size to allow BBs to pour out. Some spouts are the right size for the BBs to jet jammed in the opening and release one at a time, causing no end of frustration. Also, the cap screws on the bottle instead of just popping on with pressure. That gives you positive control over opening and closing the bottle and it will never pop open on its own if it falls off a table. I have has each of these problems with other BB containers. Well done, Air Venturi!

Air Venturi BBs — copper

I also tried the copper-plated Air Venturi BBs. They measured 0.1715 to 0.172 inches — the same as the zinc-plated BBs. Air Venturi has brought out two superior BBs that you really should try. These BBs averaged 370 f.p.s. with a high of 385 and a low of 356 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 29 f.p.s. The decline in velocity was very similar to the Air Venturi zinc-plated BBs, but I didn’t have to stop in the middle of the test this time.

ASG velocity for the TAC-4.5

ASG says the velocity of the TAC-4.5 is 417 f.p.s. The highest seen in today’s test was 407 f.p.s., which is close enough. But some of you may be confused by the velocity report. Why is this gun rated at 417 f.p.s. when it only averaged 350-360 f.p.s. for several strings of 10 shots? The answer is liability. Manufacturers state the highest possible velocity for their airguns, so the buyer knows what he is getting. An easy way to think of this is to ask yourself the question, “What is the worst it can do” or how dangerous is it? The rated velocity tells the buyer how powerful the gun can be at its maximum.

Many people think manufacturers purposely over-state the velocities of their airguns to get more sales, and in some cases that is true. The spring gun makers who rate their guns at 1600 f.p.s., when that speed is impossible to achieve without a detonation of some kind, are doing that. With the TAC 4.5, though, the stated maximum is both real and correct.

This BB gun is quiet!

I see where the sound level of the Pyramyd Air website is set at a 4 out of 5, which is pretty loud. In truth, the gun I am testing is on the low end of a 2. But let’s not go on the warpath about that, because Edith is the one who makes those changes. It may be a while before she can fix that. That is one of the benefits of my testing airguns, because any time I encounter something that doesn’t line up with the description, I just tell Edith and she fixes it in minutes.

This gun is so quiet that it is perfect for apartment dwellers and those wishing to shoot in small suburban yards. I just want you to know that, because for some buyers it makes a very big difference.

Shot count

Another place I was surprised in this test was by how many shots I got on a single CO2 cartridge. Given the average velocity and the fact the gun does not have blowback, I guessed it might get something around 100 shots. In fact, the gun was still shooting Air Venturi copper-plated BBs at 356 f.p.s. on shot number 116. Shot 178 went out at 314 f.p.s. and I stopped shooting at 201 shots, when the velocity had dropped back to 272 f.p.s. That makes the TAC-4.5 the second most gas-conservative CO2 BB gun I have tested since I started testing airguns in 1994! Only the Czech APP 661 pistol got more shots (from an 8-gram cartridge, no less!), but it only shot BBs at 250 f.p.s.

Trigger pull

The trigger pull is double action only, since the trigger is pulling the striker back against a spring. It does not have to advance a cylinder, which decreases the effort a lot, but its still a double action pull. The effort required is a pretty consistent 5 lbs. 6 oz. I found it pleasant and very light for double action.

Overall evaluation

So far I think this BB gun is a winner. I think it’s what a lot of you BB gunners have been looking for. Accuracy testing comes next, but like I told you un Part 1, I’m not looking for a target gun