by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is your first look at the new Air Venturi air shotgun by Sam Yang. This is a guest blog about the new Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun, written by Pyramyd Air’s Derek Goins.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Over to you, Derek.
This report covers:
- Wing Shot Overview
- Shot Shell Design
- More Than Meets the Eye
- Nits and Picks
- Simple & Utilitarian
- Check Before You Shoot
In modern airgunning we don’t see many guns that surprise us anymore. There are rifles capable of hole in hole accuracy or killing animals as large as deer. However, very rarely, a gun is born that can fill multiple roles. Combining utility, simplicity, and ultimate versatility is a tough task for any manufacturer. But it’s not an air rifle I speak of, but instead a gun that airgunners have not seen in years; perhaps not at all! I am excited and humbled to bring you the new Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun!
The Wing Shot is a sleek gun coming in at 43 inches from muzzle to butt, with a barrel length of 22 inches The Sam Yang big bores (and this gun is produced for Air Venturi by Sam Yang), in general, have a look that grows on you; the Wing Shot breaks the ugly duckling mold with a very pointable gun that handles well. It’s fairly lean coming in at 7.3 lbs. and it swings like a shotgun should. Bearing down the front brass bead is swift and natural. The length of pull is 13.5” allowing it to be comfortably used by even smaller shooters. The shotgun bears the same familiar knurled sleeve covered loading port and generously sized cocking handle. The hardwood on the gun appears to be the same as the Sam Yang’s’ other air guns which is strong and well finished. The forearm and pistol grip are graced with grippy checkering.
A feature that I’m very happy to see is the factory fitted male Foster quick connect fitting as the standard filling method. I don’t know about y’all, but the less time I have to spend scrambling around for filling probes the better! The fill nipple comes standard with a snap-on cover to keep crud out. The gun fills to a standard working pressure of 200 BAR and has easily readable manometer to monitor your remaining pressure. A high-pressure SCBA or SCUBA tank is recommended for this compressed air gun, though you can use a hand pump in a pinch.
The factory installed male Foster quick connect fitting is a nice touch.
Shot Shell Design
The Wing Shot shotshell design is quite unique in that it uses a frangible plastic shell to house its shot. The assembled shell is 0.75-inches long and holds around 110 grains of #6 shot, with the loading port being measured at just under an inch. The round nose of the shell is scored with an X to help the shell break apart. I think they look rather like shot pills than shotshells, but my mind is away with me again. The idea is that when these pills are fired out of the barrel they’ll hit a certain speed or distance at which the nose would fragment away. After this the remaining plastic base is acting like a conventional shot shell wad carrying the shot a bit further. I imagine this was a maddening project to engineer as some shell designs might be rocketing plastic slugs, while others may break apart too early.
The shot shells as seen empty (left image) and compared to a .50 cal slug (right image).
The shells I had were already assembled, but I did have the ability to assemble shells myself. From what I’m told both pre-filled shells and empty hulls will be available to the end user. The customer will have an option of choosing between #6 and #8 shot sizes. Typically the smaller the shot size the more you can stuff in a shell, since this puts more shot on target it’s perfect for shooting animals on the move or flying. On the other hand larger shot size is more lethal on slower or stationary targets like squirrels because each piece carries more energy. I filled the shells with my ultra precision Bic pen cap scoop, which consistently gave me loads of 110-112 grains of #6 shot. Once the hull is filled then you simply push in the plastic base. One side of the base is beveled to cup the lead while the bottom end is flat.
Let the Fun Begin!
Loading the Wing Shot is a simple affair. The knurled breech cover is sealed by two O-rings that provide a bit of tension. Slide the cover towards the muzzle to expose the chamber. Pop the shell in the chamber and pull the cover closed. I also nudged my shells forward into the chamber a bit. When I handle these guns I like to lightly oil those breech seals with plain air tool oil. It keeps them from drying out and ripping, which can be a headache to replace.
To fire the Wing Shot you must first put the safety on “fire” to allow cocking. It may be of some interest that this gun has two power levels. When the shotgun cocking handle is pulled back you will hit a locking point about ¾ through the pull, which is low power. Pulling the handle back a bit more will set it for full power. The power levels simply have to do with how hard the hammer hits the firing valve. The low power setting is about 150-200 FPS off full power velocity.
The end user can expect 5 viable hunting shots, with the first 3 having the most oomph. In my tests the 110 grain shot charge launched at 1,130 FPS, with the 5th shot ending at 1028 FPS. If you surpass the 5 shot mark the gun will quickly start to drop velocity. On low power it would be reasonable to expect around 8 great shots.
Patterns Upon Patterns!
For a shotgun to pattern successfully quite a few variables have to fall in place. If the pattern is too wide the BBs lose lethality; too tight and you’ll have a tougher time hitting moving targets. Fortunately the Wing Shot is fitted with a removable choke that utilizes the barrel thread for attachment. I don’t know at this time if there will be additional chokes available but the standard choke was perfect for up to 25 yards. At 15 yards the pattern is around 9;” at 10 yards it reduced to 6”. I also experimented with some low power patterning to see if a more gentle air blast would hold a tighter pattern, but found that the pattern size stayed the same with the point of impact dropping slightly at 15 yards, compared to full power.
Shot groupings above: 10 yards at full power (left image); 15 yards at full power (center image); 15 yards at lower power (right image).
All results the on paper were great, but it’s a shotgun and I really wanted to stretch her legs. The lethality of the gun was one of my biggest concerns, and I threw all I had at it. Fresh fruit, cardboard, rolling pellet tins, airborne pellet tins and ballistic putty were all blasted in the name of science and research. What I have found is that the Wing Shot is perfectly lethal up to 20-25 yards for most pest bird species, after that the pattern opens up too much to be humane. Within this recommended range, the gun performs beautifully and sent all my targets flying in a most impressive way. The penetration of the lead shot made a believer out of me. The shotgun didn’t have any problem with shredding thin steel cans or making fruit salad I truly appreciated how easily and naturally the shotgun swung from targets, you can immediately tell that it’s not a refitted big bore, but a purpose-designed gun. It should be noted that wing shooting animals will require some adjusted lead times in comparison to powder burning shotguns. I look forward to a time that I can take this gun out for an actual field test.
More than Meets the Eye
In this age of airgunning we want more for our money and the Wing Shot delivers with pure utility. The shotgun’s .50 caliber smoothbore barrel can also utilize cast or swaged lead slugs, turning the starling-slayer into a short range medium-game gun. I will emphasize that the barrel does NOT have rifling so we will not see the same accuracy that we would from a rifle. I admit that I was hopeful, at best, that the slugs would group well. At 25 yards I knelt behind the bench and aligned the bead with the target and fired three 336-grain flat nose .50 caliber bullets, which to my surprise produced in a tidy 2” group. The power is well on point with 185 grain round nose producing 800 FPS for the first shot. Shot 5 finished at 685 FPS. If you have never fired a big bore air gun the recoil tends to increase as your bullet weight does due to backpressure, though even with the fat 336-grainers the recoil is a gentle push. I tried groups at 40 yards as well and produced reasonable results. It should be noted, however, that the impacts of slugs do not correlate well to the brass bead sight. If you plan to shoot slugs often I would recommend an optic, but the bead works beautifully for shot shells. The Wing Shot does not come with a dovetail, though looking closely at the gun it appears that the standard Sam Yang rifle rail can be affixed with two receiver screws.
Even at 25 and 40 yards, my shot groupings were reasonable with .50 caliber slugs.
With responsible and ethical shot placement this gun will be capable of taking coyotes and deer at short ranges, you will just need to have realistic range expectations when using bullets. I also tried .50 caliber round balls with dismal accuracy results. While round balls can be cheap to shoot, the design of the projectile is rather poor. The ball does not seal well in the barrel, allowing usable air to blow by — effectively wasting it. There is also the fact that the design loses velocity rather quickly because of a low ballistic coefficient. Stick with cast bullets and I guarantee you will achieve better accuracy and terminal ballistics.
Nits and Picks
No gun is perfect, and I feel obligated to share two gripes that I had with the Wing Shot. First, I would love to see a second brass bead closer to the breech. This would allow for a more consistent sight alignment, which I’d find useful for a gun that doesn’t utilize a ton of shot. My only other gripe is that I wish the loading port was milled longer so the user could utilize longer and more potent shotshells. Perhaps in the future we’ll see a Wing Shot Magnum with 2” shells! Though the shotgun performs admirably, these are two things worth mentioning.
Simple and Utilitarian
I can say with utmost certainty that the Wing Shot will be perfect for those folks that like to tinker and experiment with different shot loads and slug weights. I found myself running around happily testing one thing or another. The gun is simply a hoot to shoot, it’s a certain kind of fun that most of us have forgotten in our pursuit for accuracy and power. There are a few guns out there that still make you smile when you shoot them; often they are guns that we started the sport with. The everlasting Benjamin 392/397, a well kept FWB 124, for me personally; a RWS 94 that cemented a love for air guns and hunting within me. The Wing Shot makes me grin ear to ear when targets dance under shotshell persuasion and the simplicity of its design is delightful. The Wing Shot delivers everything it promises as a shotgun, and performs equally well within reasonable ranges as a slug gun. It fills the utility niche, which has been screaming for a flagship, like no other gun before it.
Check Before You Shoot
On a closing note it is important to mention that since this is the first production air shotgun, hunting legislation may not be written for it yet. While I can easily recommend this gun for wing shooting pest birds and taking medium-game with slugs, it is your responsibility to check local game laws before squeezing the trigger. I generally like to call the Game Warden (Wildlife Officer depending on state) to get the current information on game laws. Game Wardens are more than happy to help and appreciate a hunter taking the responsible route and checking first. They will often turn you onto some great hunting spots.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Air Venturi Wing Shot and it’s left an impression of quality and utility that I can stand behind. I am absolutely thrilled for the future of this gun. Perhaps, dear readers, we can convince the powers that be to send this old boy on a pest bird shotgun hunt! Stay safe and happy shooting.
Editor’s note: See Jim Champan’s American Airgunner video on this special air shotgun!