By Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 180
My .22 caliber Crosman 180 is the second variation.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Testing the gun as it sits
  • Warmup
  • Low power
  • Why just 5 shots?
  • High power
  • Power adjusted higher
  • Low power 2
  • High power 2
  • Power increased again
  • High power 3
  • Low power 3
  • Shot count
  • The cooling effect
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

This old Crosman 180 is like an air rifle I have never seen before. Even though I have owned it for about 30 years, I have never really shot it that much. I certainly haven’t tested it like I’m about to!

I was faced with both adjustable power and two power settings, which makes the test infinitely complex. So, instead of testing three different pellets, I only used .22 caliber Crosman Premiers. When you see how complex this test is, you will appreciate why I did that.

Testing the gun as it sits

Initially I shot the gun as it was  already adjusted. As I recalled, it shot Premiers at around 525 f.p.s. on high power in the past. I really didn’t know what low power was doing, so that was where I started. The CO2 cartridge that was in the gun from Part 1 was still pretty full, so I started with it.

Warmup

Some air rifles have to be exercised a few times before they settle down and start performing like they should. We see this in spring guns, PCPs and, although I have not noticed it in a CO2 gun before, I suppose they are like anything else. This rifle hasn’t been shot that much in the past 20 years, so it probably has a right to need a warmup. I didn’t plan on warming it up, but the chronograph told me it was necessary. Look at the first several shots.

Shot………..Velocity
1………………302
2………………285
3………………339
4………………377
5………………417
6………………426
7………………436
8………………434

Low power

The velocity seems to have stabilized at shot 7, so I now shot a 5-shot string. The low was 432 and the high was 451 f.p.s. The average was 440 f.p.s., so I think that’s where the rifle wants to shoot on low power. The spread was 19 f.p.s.

Why just 5 shots?

I’m shooting 5-shot strings today because I’m testing a CO2 rifle that uses a cartridge. At some point  while I shoot it will fall off the pressure curve and mess up my test. The shorter strings give me more opportunity to test different things with less chance of a problem. If there is anything I want to know with greater certainty I can always shoot more shots.

High power

This first high-power test was also with the gun as it was adjusted. I fired 5 shots. The low was 513 f.p.s. and the high was 533 f.p.s., for an average of 523 f.p.s. The spread was 20 f.p.s. That is pretty much how I remember the rifle shooting.

Power adjusted higher

Now I inserted an Allen wrench and turned the power adjustment screw in (clockwise) many turns. I never came to a stop after 10 complete turns and I didn’t want to ruin anything, so I stopped and tested it set that way.

Low power 2

The average for 5 shots on low power now was 492 f.p.s. The low was 488 and the high was 498 f.p.s. Two things about this string. First, the average velocity has increased by 52 f.p.s. But also the spread of the string decreased from 19 f.p.s. to 10 f.p.s. The rifle became faster and also more consistent. As it is now set, this 180 is more powerful on low power than my Diana 27 (its average with Premiers is 442 f.p.s.). Since low power has to give more shots per cartridge than high, this may be a very good setting!

High power 2

Next I tested the rifle with 5 shots on high power. The average was 532 f.p.s. and the spread went from a low of 530 to a high of 537 f.p.s. Again the power increased, though only by 10 f.p.s. And again the rifle became more stable with a spread of just 7 f.p.s., compared to 20 f.p.s. before the power adjustment.

Power increased again

I was on a roll, so why stop now? Unfortunately, the next test showed me why. I adjusted the power up again and tested the rifle on low power. I won’t show the average, for reasons that will be obvious.

Shot………..Velocity
1………………496
2………………507
3………………484
4………………486
5………………476
6………………464

It’s pretty obvious the rifle has exhausted all the liquid CO2 in this string and is running on the remaining gas. In other words, we have reached the limit. There were exactly 30 shots fired in this test before the power started to drop. I don’t know how many shots were on the cartridge when the test started. And, since I don’t know how many shots were on the rifle at the start, I still don’t have a good shot count.

I dry-fired the rifle on high power 10 times and exhausted the remainder of the gas. Then I installed a new CO2 cartridge and started testing again on high power.

High power 3

On high power at this latest power adjustment the average for 5 shots was 537 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 535 to a high of 541 f.p.s., so 6 f.p.s. difference. The rifle hasn’t gained much velocity, but it’s a trifle more consistent (6 f.p.s. versus 7 f.p.s. before the change). It’s really too close to call.

Low power 3

On low power, though, the results are very different. The average has increased to 526 f.p.s. for 5 shots. The spread goes from a low of 523 to a high of 528 f.p.s., so just 5 f.p.s. The 180 is now nearly as powerful on low power as it is on high power. We can look at that two different ways. Either I have found the sweet spot for the lower power range or I have lost the two-power capability of the rifle altogether. I like the first explanation — as in the cup is half full.

Shot count

Now that the power is set so that both levels are close, I can do a realistic shot count. I started with the 10 shots on the cartridge that were shown above. Then I fired 10 more blank shots on low power. Then I gave the rifle a rest to warm back up. I ate my lunch at this time, so it was about 45 minutes. At shot 21 it registered 525 f.p.s. Then 9 more blanks at low power, followed by a 5-minute warmup. At shot 31 it registered 488 f.p.s. That’s a definite drop from the 520s, so I fired just 5 more blank shots, then gave the rifle 10 minutes to warm up. If it’s just slow from cooling, shot 36 will be the same as or faster than 488 f.p.s. If it’s really loosing pressure it will be significantly slower. Shot 36 registered 434 f.p.s., so the rifle is definitely off the power curve with this cartridge.

As I remember, this 180 gave me about 35 good shots in the past, so I’m about where I have always been. I could easily shoot to 40 shots, though past 25 yards I would notice the pellets striking lower after shot number 30. I like where this one is now performing on the lower power setting, and that is how I plan to shoot it from now on.

The cooling effect

Many CO2 guns have a cooling effect from the gas that lowers the velocity as they are fired. This 180 doesn’t seem to have one. I took about 20 seconds between shots because this is a single shot and also because I was hand-recording each velocity, but with that I never noticed any decrease from cooling.

Trigger pull

I told you that this 180 has the very fine and very adjustable Crosman trigger, and I have it set exactly as I like it. It’s two stages, but I can’t feel the hesitation at stage 2, so in effect it feels like a single-stage. I have the overtravel set to stop the trigger at the moment of sear release, which feels perfect. The trigger breaks at 2 lbs. 2 oz. I have tested finer air rifle triggers, for sure, but never on an airgun that costs under $400.

Summary

There are probably a host of other things I could have done but didn’t in this test. What I was going for was a solid baselining of the rifle, which I think I got. Heavier pellets will shoot slower and lighter pellets will go faster. Since this is a compressed gas gun heavier pellets won’t be that much slower and lighter pellets won’t be that much faster — that’s the nature of pneumatics and gas guns.

I’m ready to test the accuracy next.