Beeman R1 supertune: Part 4
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The tune helped!
- Important changes
- No luck
- One last group
- New R1 book next year
Today will be interesting, because today we will see the Beeman R1 in a new light. At least I now do.
In Part 3 I told you that my R1 has always been a twitchy rifle to shoot accurately. Even when I wrote the R1 book, I had problems getting this rifle to shoot at any distance. Ten meters was easy, but beyond 20 yards the rifle just didn’t like to put them all together. But in every group of 10, 4 or 5 would be in a single hole — indicating the airgun wants to shoot. When I encounter an air rifle like that I call it twitchy, because it really needs the right hold to do its best. The problem is — I hadn’t found that hold for this rifle yet.
The tune helped!
In the past this R1 has been a hard-recoiling air rifle. That made it difficult to hold correctly every time. The tune that Bryan Enoch put on the gun earlier this year has changed that, and it’s now possible to hold the rifle as steady as any of my other tackdrivers. But in the last test I never discovered the one hold that the rifle likes. It’s still twitchy. So, today, that will be my goal.
I mentioned last time that the trigger was adjusted too heavy for my taste. This time I adjusted it lighter. It now breaks at just less than 2 pounds.
Also, the scope I used last time was a cheapie that happened to fit on the rifle quickly. This time I took the time to find and mount a scope that is more appropriate. I’m shooting an obsolete UTG 3-12 SWAT scope that looks and performs very much like their current one. The reticle is thicker than I prefer for long range target shooting, but perfect for hunting.
I mounted that scope in a pair of BKL 30 mm high rings that have 2-screw caps. They look small for a powerful spring rifle, but Bryan’s tune has tamed the beast to the point that these rings are now ideal. Together with the short scope, they add very little weight to the already heavy air rifle.
With the rifle now adjusted and scoped, I sighted-in at 12 feet. The round struck 2 inches low and one inch to the left, which meant it would be okay at 25 yards. It took three more shots to get on the bull at 25 yards and I was ready to begin the test.
The first part of the test didn’t go well. I tried three different variations of artillery holds — off hand touching triggerguard, hand halfway out and hand all the way out. Nothing worked. I would get several pellets in the same hole and then they would spread out. I tried Crosman Premiers and H&N Baracuda Match with 5.51 mm heads. Both gave me similar results — a scattered group with several pellets in the same hole. The group I’m showing measures 1.692-inches.
Then I switched to H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53 mm heads. When I made the switch I was holding the rifle with my off hand extended as far out as was comfortable. This time I got a group. It wasn’t a super group, but it was better than anything I had seen up to this point. Ten pellets landed in 0.94-inches between centers, and 8 of them are in 0.545-inches. This was the best I had seen from this rifle in a long time, so I thought I was onto something.
By the time I shot this group I had fired 56 shots and was tiring out from the cocking and concentration. But I didn’t want to quit, now that I was possibly close to the answer I was looking for. I thought I would give it one more try.
One last group
I had read in a book somewhere — I think it was the Beeman R1 book — that when spring rifles are exceptionally twitchy you can sometimes get results if you rest the forearm on the backs of your fingers. The wide forearm on my Maccari custom stock lends itself to this because it spreads the weight over all the fingers.
So, I took my own advice and rested the rifle on the backs of my fingers. And that’s when I think I discovered how to shoot my supertuned Beeman R1! This time 8 shots went into 0.484 inches at 25 yards. I could not believe it — they all went into the same hole!
But what about those other 2 shots? They aren’t in the main group. On the first one, which was shot number 5, I felt I wasn’t as relaxed for the shot as I should be. There was some tension in my hold, but I wanted to see what effect that would have, so I took the shot anyway. That pellet opened the group to 1.184-inches! Normally that would discourage me, but when I resumed the correct hold, the next shot went into the same big hole that was forming.
What I was learning was how twitchy my rifle is, and also how to control it. That’s much more important than some random small group. So, on shot number 9 I did the same thing. I didn’t relax as much as I should have and this shot also went wild. It went in the same direction as shot 5, but not as far from the main group.
Here is what I think I have learned from today’s test. First, I needed the trigger to be lighter to suit my shooting style. Second, by changing both the scope and mount I achieved a better sight picture that I feel helped me shoot better. But none of this matters without the correct hold.
Finding the right hold for the rifle seems to have made all the difference. I say it seems to because I need to test this hold more times to see if I can repeat the results. And I need to try it with different pellets, to see whether it’s just the hold, or it’s also partly the pellet that makes the difference. The way this test went, it’s difficult to say which change helped more.
You can also argue that I should have sorted the pellets with the .22 caliber Pelletgage before shooting. Maybe those 2 wild shots were caused by differing head sizes rather than variances in the hold? I don’t think so, but it’s too early to rule anything out.
I will agree that all my testing with the Pelletgage does show there are great differences in head sizes, and those differences do affect the results on the target. But I haven’t tested other air rifles that way in the past. If I do use the Pelletgage, it will be after I have verified the best hold and the best pellet for this rifle.
After 66 shots with this springer, I was too tired to continue. That remains for another day. I plan to stay at 25 yards until I’m sure that I know this rifle.
New R1 book next year
I’ve decided to bring out an updated edition of the Beeman R1 book. There are many corrections to the original manuscript that need to be made, but the plan is to identify the new material so people can see the original book within the new edition.
The R1 book now sells for crazy prices, just because it is no longer available. When I still had them on hand I almost could not give them away. But the airgun community has grown to the point that this is now a venture worth doing. I have rounded up all the files and have started converting them for the project that will probably take until at least the middle of next year.
In the last chapter of the book I talk about the Gaylord dream rifle and what I wanted it to be. When I wrote that I had no idea of where my journey would take me, but I think the tune that’s on the gun now is the one I dreamed about in 1994 — 22 years ago. So I will add a new chapter to the book that describes this tune and what it has done to the rifle.