Filming American Airgunner 2017

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Ft. Smith
  • Outdoors
  • Hey — chill out!
  • Ranch
  • The Hammer
  • The Gauntlet
  • FWB 124
  • Reality check

Ft. Smith

For the past several years I’ve gone to Ft. Smith, Arkansas every year to film the Round Table segments of “American Airgunner.” We also film several This Old Airgun segments with just me and the host, Rossi Morreale. In the past this has been done in a studio and I have been able to work on the blog when I wasn’t actually in the scene being filmed. This year was different.

Outdoors

We went to a large ranch nearby and filmed for two straight days. Because we were outside we could shoot at will, so there is a lot more shooting in these segments than we have done in the past. And the shooting allowed me to watch others shoot, which influenced the way I think about accuracy.

American Airgunner crew 1
The American Airgunner crew was set up to support the filming both days. All equipment, ammo, guns and food was provided next to where we filmed.

American Airgunner crew 2
The production crew was fast and efficient. We rarely needed more than a single take, which allowed us to rip through the scheduled scenes.

Always in the past I have concentrated on the airgun being tested whenever I shot for accuracy. I wanted to get myself out of the picture, because you won’t have me with you when you shoot. You are most interested in how the gun does — not how well I can shoot.

Hey — chill out!

The other guys on the set — Rossi, Joe Brancato, Jim Chapman and Tyler Patner, were more interested in general accuracy — as in the pellet obviously hitting inside a bullseye. We had Shoot-N-C targets set at 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards, and in several segments they were pleased with pellets that hit somewhere in a 4-inch pattern — even at 25 yards. Tyler Patner was the only other one who seemed as interested in shooting small groups as I was, but the others approached accuracy as a broad brush. And that’s when it hit me — they were all having fun, while I was just being anal. Once I realized that, I relaxed and started having some fun.

Rossi and Tyler
Rossi Morreale (left) and Tyler Patner compete with the Umarex Gauntlet.

Once I relaxed, the day went by fast. I was in most of the segments on both days, and it’s a good thing, because there was no phone reception in the valley we were in. I couldn’t have worked online if I had wanted to. So I enjoyed myself, instead.

Ranch

The ranch where we were is gorgeous! It’s about a thousand acres that have been in the same family for generations and they have been good stewards. They created a lake several acres in size and stocked it with fish, and they moved the stream that feeds the lake to create a waterfall. Those who are on my Facebook page got to see that.

falls
This still was extracted from the short film I posted on Facebook. The ranch owner built this waterfall and the lake that’s  next to it!

The ranch has cattle, burros, horses and exotic game like bison, mountain goats and an odd donkey/zebra mix. They gave us a nice place to shoot and came to watch some of the filming. When you watch the 2017 season you’ll see what I am talking about. Those who don’t see the show on television can always go online to American Airgunner and watch there.

The Hammer

One exciting new airgun we got to see and shoot was the new Umarex Hammer big bore. This is the new .50 caliber big bore that’s filled to 4,500 psi and regulated to 3,000 psi. You are supposed to get 3 shots at the same velocity from this rifle. I say “supposed” because we didn’t get to test it that way. Our air tanks were below 4500 psi from 2 days of filming by the time we started looking at the Hammer, so we could not fill it full.

The rifle we shot was T2 — the second prototype. There is also a T3, but it wasn’t available that day. And they plan to have at least one more prototype before freezing the design. I would show you the gun, but it’s changing so fast it would not look like the final item. Go back to Part 6 of the SHOT Show 2017 to see what it sort of looks like.

Rossi Morreale did get a surprise, though. He got a “scope eyebrow” from the recoil when he shot the 510-grain bullet that’s the largest we tested. Apparently all his time with smallbore PCPs has caused him to creep up close to the ocular bell of the scope, and when the Hammer fired, it hammered him! Shooters who shoot centerfire rifles are familiar with scope eyebrow (a cut above the eye from the sharp scope tube). It’s like an M1 thumb, and marks a passage into the ranks of shooting. My point is, the Hammer recoils!

I saw it hit ballistic gel blocks and the results were impressive, but I won’t spoil the show for anyone. I can tell you that I did see a 510-grain slug go out the muzzle at 738 f.p.s., which translates to 616.93 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That was achieved with less than 3000 psi of air, so there is even more power available.

Steve Lamboy of Umarex told us they expect to start shipping guns in August. I think that is a very ambitious schedule, but we will wait and see.

The Gauntlet

Another airgun we got to see and test was the new Umarex Gauntlet. This one we shot for the entire filming session, and whenever there was a competition, it was the first rifle selected. There was one in .177 and one in .22. In both calibers the Gauntlets out-shot everything on the set — including some very expensive European PCPs I won’t embarrass by mentioning. I do that because our tests were not controlled, so they were not fair to any gun, but I am very interested in testing this gun for you!

Umarex Gauntlet
The Umarex Gauntlet promises to be a revolutionary PCP.

For those who don’t know, the Gauntlet is a repeating PCP rifle that’s regulated and has an adjustable cheekpiece. It gets a minimum of 60 shots on a fill because of the regulator. The power is decent and so is the trigger, but the accuracy seems superb! And the price of just $300 is unprecedented! It offers thousand-dollar features at a fraction of the price.

We began looking at the rifle in a Round Table discussion, but at the end of that both Rossi and Tyler shot groups at 50 yards that I would have been proud of. I’ll tell you how popular it was. Every time we had a competition — and there were several of them — the 2 Gauntlets were always the first rifles selected. I actually never got to shoot one the whole 2 days we filmed. I plan to rectify that shortcoming when I get one to test! If what I saw on the set holds true in my tests, I might not send the gun back, either!

FWB 124

I told you I bought an FWB 124 at the Findlay airgun show this month. I bought it because the price was so good I couldn’t pass it up! Before filming “American Airgunner” I had fired the rifle 2 times, just to see that it works. I took it for a This Old Airgun segment that we filmed, and afterward I kept it out to use as my “go-to” shooter. The Gauntlets were already spoken for and the other PCPs on the set had odd magazines that I didn’t want to take the time to learn.

To my surprise, the FWB with open sights shot almost as well as the scoped Gauntlets — at least for a single shot at 50 yards! It couldn’t compete in the Pyramyd Air Gunslynger competition that is timed, but for taking one aimed shot, it wasn’t that bad! That told me I need to get started testing that rifle in the history section soon.

Reality check

This filming session of “American Airgunner” was good for me because it got me thinking like a shooter again. I’m still going to test airguns the way I always have, but I will keep in mind what most of you readers think about when you shoot.

53 thoughts on “Filming American Airgunner 2017

  1. B.B. Pelletier,

    So the answer to the accuracy was to have fun. Shooting out the bulls eye does give a different sort of satisfaction compared to seeing a tight cluster of pellets an inch away from the bulls eye.

    I recall magazine writers calling it the Weatherby eyebrow due to the propensity of new Weatherby magnum owners getting that when they shot their gun for the first time. Usually you describe the recoil as a gentle push. It seems this Hammer is anything but gentle from both ends.

    Beautiful location. I hope that a lot more landowners have the wherewithal to develop their property properly.

    Siraniko


  2. Good for you BB. It’s about time you took a break from decimalized sub-inch sized groups and just shooting to hit the target. I get a lot of enjoyment from plinking tin cans on my range at distances up to 50 yards or sometimes a bit more.
    It’s satisfying hitting targets that go clang at a long range even if some of those targets are fairly large. I have a couple of 16″ gongs hidden in the bush. You know when you hit them because they sound like a church bell and the expertise is shooting through the bush and not having the pellet or BB deflected by leaves or branches. On a really long shot it helps to be very familiar with the ballistics of the gun you’re shooting.
    So like you say shoot to have fun ’cause shooting is fun.
    Cheers
    Dave


  3. It looks like a real nice time and great fun. Yup,.. don’t forget to “have fun” too. The Gauntlet is sounding very interesting. I am glad to see a lower priced, nice PCP come to market for all of the shooters that have yet to experience the accuracy and smoothness of a PCP. Looking forward to that test. .22 I hope. Sounds like it might be a nice one to offer in .25 in the future.

    The link to American Airgunner was nice too, as the Direct TV package I have seems to have stopped offering it. I see it is linked also ALL the way at the bottom on P.A.’s home page,.. so I am good to go now. I missed it. My favorites on the channel was those rare big game hunts that cost a fortune and were shot in very mountainous regions of the U.S. and other countries. The scenery is stunning.

    Finally, glad to see you are not going the loosen the reigns on the accuracy testing. After all,.. that is where the “rubber hits the road” for us air gunner’s.

    Good Day all,… Chris


    • Chris,

      You can go on YouTube and catch the episodes also. They are real slow about posting them, but they eventually get around to it. They are still posting clips from last season.


  4. BB,

    Your comment about how the others thought about accuracy explains why I have been leery of their recommendations for air rifles and their claims of accuracy. I see them shooting at targets and producing groups at 50 yards that I could not cover with my hand and then telling me this is an accurate air rifle and I should buy it. It just ends up sounding like a paid endorsement to me. “I can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn with this thing, but because they are paying me to say good stuff about their air rifle you should go out and buy one.”

    Don’t get me wrong, most of my shooting I am plinking spinners or hunting feral soda cans, but there is also a good bit of time spent shooting groups at 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards. I am also planning on stretching that out further. I do enjoy just shooting, but I also need to know that the pellet is going exactly where I want it. Try hitting a 3/4″ spinner at 25 yards with open sights with no rest while sitting on the front porch. That is a pretty good way to spend a sunny afternoon.


  5. I’m sticking with Townsend Whelen and some of the rest of the crew here: “Only accurate rifles are interesting”. In this context I would modify that to “A more accurate rifle will be MORE FUN!”


  6. With the Gauntlet on the scene you can bet your bottom dollar that Crosman is working on Maximus 2.0
    With a 3.5 lb weight advantage there is ample room to increase the size of the air reservoir. Add a regulator and a rotary magazine. Need to tweak the trigger down to 3lb ish.
    Let’s get ready to rumble
    I’m betting on the Maximus 2.0
    Pete



    • Pete,

      I seriously doubt we will see a “Maximus 2.0” as you describe as they already have the Marauder. Also, the Discovery, Maximus and Marauder are “made in USA” where the Gauntlet is Chinese. That can be a major cost savings.


      • RR
        Not made in USA.

        Built in the USA. At least that’s what it says on one of the guns box’s you mentioned. Or maybe all of those gun’s box’s. Haven’t looked at my box’s for a while now.


        • GF1,

          That is why I put it in quotes and “made” was lower case. I am certain various parts are made elsewhere. It is like quite a few of their sproingers are built here, but the parts come from China and elsewhere. Sad but true.


          • RR
            When I hear “made” in the USA it makes me think the parts are manufactured and assembled here.

            Not parts “made” elsewhere and assembled here.

            Pretty sure that’s why Crosman say’s “built” in the USA. They aren’t mentioning where all the parts are made. Just where their assembled.


      • R.R.,
        Crosman has to reply to the Gauntlet or lose serious market share. Whether the Chinese can produce consistent quality is another matter but to do nothing means a slow and painful death.

        Pete


        • Pete,

          I do not own a Crosman. There are a couple I would consider if I did not already have better, but I see no reason to buy something I do not want. They could build something I would buy, but they don’t.



  7. B.B.,

    It’s important to have fun. For me (and I know you, too) small groups are fun to shoot as well as plinking. I find myself doing two types of shooting, bench-rested target shooting at measured distances, and plinking cans and shooting spinners sometimes off a bench-rest, sometimes off-hand. With the latter I will sometimes enjoy a beer or two, but never with the former.

    Michael


  8. Maybe because I learned to shoot in a small game hunting environment I have always defined “accuracy” by the effective range of the hardware/software (rifle/shooter). My personal requirement is to be able to hit a 1″ target, the distance at which I can consistently do so is my effective range with that particular rifle.

    The 25, 50 100 yard distances have little meaning to me because game rarely is so accommodating to wait at those ranges and I can’t guarantee I can estimate those ranges (through the bush) that precisely anyway. I wouldn’t shoot at 100 yards with a rifle that groups 1 1/2″ at that range because it doesn’t meet my criteria.

    I set up my rifles for their “point blank range” – the range at which no compensation is required to keep the pellets within a 3/4″ circle. I use 3/4″ as my (benched) reference to allow a bit of tolerance for my 1″ effective range target size.

    For instance, my .22 HW100 is sighted in for 41.5 yards (measured!) and will (benched) keep the POI within 3/8″ of the POA between 12 and 46 yards, outside of that window compensation is needed.

    Once all the details have been addressed and the rifle is sighted in I forget about it and fun begins. I like shooting at random ranges at reactive targets. I made a dozen 1″ spinner targets and have them set up at anywhere from 5 to 55 yards. I usually shoot off hand, find it very satisfying to smack a spinner, love to see them dance. 🙂

    Anyway, just my nickel. Hope this is of interest.

    Hank


  9. While I have never been, by my standards,a good shot. I try my best to get small groups when sighting in with a new scope. However to me that is work. Enjoyment is hitting a soda can off hand at 40+ yards. My other favorite shot is hitting an 8″ rusty steel frying pan at 25 yards. I carry my P17 on my riding mower. After mowing 2.5+ acres I unload my P17 by shooting at that pan.
    Plinking is shooting to me.

    P.S.
    P17. – 2
    Copperheads -0


  10. B.B.,

    Can you provide any previews of the Gauntlet’s trigger? Everything I have read about the Gauntlet is positive, even glowing. That is one important area I have yet to read about, at least to my recollection.

    I had been leaning towards getting a euro-version Maximus plus trigger job plus moderator, but I see that the Gauntlet comes with a single-shot tray, so it seems to have it all over the Maximus for me, except for shot count. Then again, a lighter hammer spring might be an easy detune for it.

    The PCP plot thickens all the time.

    Michael


    • Michael,

      Well, like I said — I didn’t get a chance to shoot the Gauntlet at Ft. Smith. My recollection goes all the way back to the SHOT Show. From that I remember it was not as good as the Marauder trigger, but also not bad.

      B.B.


    • For a sporting PCP, it was more than acceptable. The break was predictable. And it is adjustable. The ones that were in Ft. Smith were better than I was expecting.


  11. B.B.

    I think you highlighted the difference between PCP shooters and spring gun shooters! PCP’s shooters just want to throw lead down range. You have to be a really bad shot to screw up with PCP’s, while a springer is MUCH more demanding. They have gotten lazy and probably developed some bad habits, they just do not know it because they are still around the bull.
    Spring gun shooters have to be anal or they will not be accurate.
    Death to PCP’s!

    -Y


  12. BB,

    It is always a pleasure getting to spend time with you. I’ve really taken a lot from the time we’ve spent doing American Airgunner over the last two years.

    I was not included in the segment where BB and the gang got to look at the Gauntlet on camera, Rossi and I did a one on one comparison of the .177 and .22 a bit later on. It was very interesting as I watched BB, Joe and Jim film a segment about the Gauntlet with Rossi. And the interesting part was to watch where they all shot. Bear in mind they’re shooting at different distances and I believe only took 5 shots, not really enough to develop a feel for the gun. But interestingly enough Joe, Jim and Rossi all shot for the bullseye. I don’t recall watching BB shoot, or if he did shoot it. But I know he (like me) was screaming inside watching each of them try to walk each shot into the bull. I was purely interested in shooting groups with the Gauntlet and I know BB was as well. So when I got my chance, I put 5 rounds down at 50 yards and was very pleased with the result. Rossi also shot a very impressive group at the same distance, he used the .22 and I used the .177. It was windy, but with that factored in, if the vast majority of the Gauntlet’s are that good…..we’re going to have a “World Beater” on our hands as BB likes to say.

    I believe BB and I share this similarity for two reasons, 1) we’ve both shot competitively and accuracy is paramount to us and 2) we tend to shoot more paper than live game.
    We are about as anal as it gets when you talk about what a “good group” is. But, because we’ve shot so many different guns (BB obviously far more than I, but I’d like to think I’ve shot/owned enough to hold my own in that conversation) we are able to put that in perspective for a reader or a viewer based on the features and price of the gun being shot.
    And while I agree, having fun is really paramount to enjoying the experience….I for one hope BB doesn’t ever lose that “anal” driven thought process.



      • Noooooooo, wouldn’t tell them any of that, they can watch it for themselves after all. I like how you said everyone reached for the Gauntlet first though….that’s because I hid the Ataman away from everyone so I could use it (cue the villainous laughter here)



  13. For what it’s worth, I ,too, hope BB keeps accuracy paramount in his reports. I’m a bad shot trying to get better and that won’t happen (and I won’t have much fun) if I’m shooting at empty shotshells with a gun that shoots 2 1/2″ groups at that distance. You have to have a certain percentage of hits to enjoy even informal shooting. Also it helps to know if you’re missing because the gun /pellet combo isn’t working or because you’re not doing your part. And lastly, there are some of us shooters that really enjoy the PROCESS of finding the best pellets out of each of our guns, and along with that, reading about other’s ( BB’s) exploits. Have fun with your shooting BB but please don’t change your tests too much.


  14. B.B.

    I was all set to hear about accuracy and precision today. Then you tell me it’s all about having fun. Thanks for the wake up call.

    I think that is why I have been doing more plinking lately and just ordered Two BB guns. Another Red Ryder and a


  15. On the subject of plinking I recently bought a P17 for my grandson and he can’t quite get it cocked so I thought I would try the Browning Buckmark pistol as I’ve read that it cocks easily and is light in weight. Anyone have any first hand experience with this gun?



      • BB

        Can you speak to it’s accuracy @ 25 feet or so, as in, Will it hit a shotshell or a golf ball or a small juice bottle or a soup can or all of the above at that distance, if you know. Also ,if you are familiar enough with the gun, do you think it is of reasonable value. I’m just looking for something my grandson can cock and plink with at this point and understand that he will literally outgrow it as he gets stronger.




  16. I’ll be interested to see the Gauntlet tested, but it doesn’t sound quite up to the Marauder if the trigger is inferior. How about this definition of accuracy: the capability for you to coordinate a shot that gives you satisfaction and a sense of achievement. This applies across all kinds of shooting devices, targets, and ranges. So, hitting a man-sized target at 30 yards with an arrow is equivalent accuracy to an Anschutz rifle holding the black offhand at 50 yards (for me anyway).

    JerryC, thanks for your thoughts. They illustrate for me the difficulty of generalizing across large categories like firearms and airguns which have so much variation. Your examples are pretty compelling especially with the modified Ruger 10/22. Still, I think within firearms and categories, we still need to compare apples with apples. The 10/22 is the king of accessorized guns which means they can go in all different directions. I believe that B.B. said at one point that his modified 10/22 with a target chambering is nothing like the stock gun. You would almost need the official 10/22 Target model to approach the limits of what this gun can do. Similarly, the Marauder is a top of the line pcp, and there are a lot of cheap .22s that it could easily outshoot.

    Here’s another basis of comparison that has formed by thinking. Can anyone think of any MOA airguns besides the elite Feinwerkbau rifles and maybe the Marauder? The TX200 is the gold standard of spring guns which can shoot under an inch at 50 yards. That’s fine performance for airguns but an inch is still 2 MOA which is ordinary for firearms. I think when I took my B30 to shoot at 25 yards, I got a best five shot group of ~.3 inches which is well over MOA. That doesn’t prevent the B30 from being deadly accurate for most of the shooting I do with it.

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      Gunfun got 10 at 13/16″ @ 100 yards and I got the same with 7/10. Ridge Runner I believe got under an inch with his new PCP at 100. Can I do it again? I have tried and (have not). Can Gunfun? Can RR? At any rate, the Marauder is far from the elite class,.. or even close,.. but it sure ain’t bad. It shines because of the price, value and the accuracy it gives. Mod-ability too. But as you know,.. that landscape is changing fast with all of new PCP offerings. The Marauder will hold it’s place just because of parts availability,.. after market and stock,.. and reputation. All manufactures’ would do well to step up their part game.

      Chris


      • In fact, a manufacturer with a good parts program would do well to advertise the heck out it. With the PCP wars heating up, that would be a big plus/edge. For those that don’t have one,… well,… maybe that might incentivize them to “get with it”.


      • Chris U
        Haha. Can Gunfun1 do it again. I’ll bet he can. Just don’t know how soon that will be. 😉

        But seriously. I practice pretty much at that distance with my .25 Marauder. Well and out farther. I have to say that if I have good conditions on my shooting day. Like number one main factor. Zero wind. That day I shot that group was absalutly a perfect shooting day.

        But I have to say this. That my Marauder will repeat itself pretty consistently at a hundred yards. Pretty good out to about 130 if I try real hard. At a 150 it starts spreading them out. Put it this way. I have a old blue tennis ball out in the feild at a hundred yards and I for the most part can hit it every shot if it’s not windy. If it is windy I can usually still hit it once I see where the first shot lands and I figure out my windage hold. So for whatever that means. Yes I’m pretty sure I could shoot that group again at a hundred yards.


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