The Beeman P1 air pistol: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Beeman P1
Beeman P1 air pistol.

This report covers:

  • The best laid schemes…
  • Strike while the iron is hot
  • Many stories!
  • The new spring
  • What is scragging?
  • Special note about the end cap
  • Assembly
  • Job done
  • Plans change
  • Cocking effort
  • Summary

The best laid schemes…

…gang aft agley (often go astray). And so it is with my new/old Beeman P1 pistol. I’ll tell you about it after the report.

Strike while the iron is hot

I assembled the pistol for today’s report, wanting to work while it was still fresh in my mind. A box of parts looks different after you have set it aside for awhile — or at least it does in my house. Critical parts disappear and things you remember being easy are suddenly difficult. Let me start at the end. I timed the assembly and it took 90 minutes, or about twice what the disassembly took. I took far fewer pictures, so let me give you a breakdown of the times. The time to assemble the powerplant was 85 minutes and the time to assemble the remainder of the gun and test-fire it was 5 minutes. Obviously there is a story to tell.

Many stories!

Actually there are many stories. Let me begin with the big one, which is the new mainspring. It is longer than the spring I took out of the gun yesterday. A lot longer!

Beeman P1 springs
The new mainspring (bottom) is much longer than the one I took out of the pistol.

The new spring

There is more to say about the new mainspring. First, note that it looks bent in the picture. The old spring now looks straighter. Is it canted? Yes and no. It is canted, but it’s not what you think. The spring is not bent. The compression I put it under to try to fit it into the spring tube has started scragging the spring. And, this spring really needs to be scragged! The difference in length between this one and the old one shows that dramatically.

What is scragging?

Scragging a coiled steel spring means compressing it and leaving it compressed for several hours so the grain structure of the steel wire realigns. After scragging the spring will be shorter overall, but just as strong and efficient. Here is a report I wrote about it.

As a result of not being scragged the new spring fought me at every turn! That clear vinyl tube isn’t just for safety — it serves as an external spring guide, because under pressure from the clamp this spring squirms like an earthworm that’s been salted!

Do you see the spring guide on the new spring? It took me 20 minutes to get it to fit. The spring guide has a very slight belling at its end that the spring has to fit over. The new spring didn’t want to go. I had to file the inside edges of the coils that had been flattened, plus there was a small burr on the bell of the guide that had to be removed. Once all that was done the spring went on, though I had to force it.

But, try as I might, I still could not get that new spring inside the tube. It kept squirming to the side and out of the clamp. I even “invented” a rear spring guide to help get it in. It’s just a bolt that is supposed to keep the spring from kinking as it’s being compressed. It would be wonderful if it worked, but alas — no joy!

Beeman P1 rear spring guide
The bolt through the end cap is my “special” temporary rear spring guide. Sorry for the focus. My hands were greasy and I didn’t want to get it on the camera.

Beeman P1
Here’s how the improvised spring guide works. As you can see, the spring wants to kink right away, and there are about three more inches of compression to go!

The mainspring kept kinking and slipping out of the clamp, launching the end cap with some force until I pulled the plug and decided to put the old spring back in. After seeing how bent the new spring became from this work, I knew it had to be scragged before it will go into the powerplant. I’m sure that Heidi, who assembles these for Weihrauch in Deutschland, scrags them first!

I lubricated the piston body and the mainspring with Tune in a Tube (TIAT) grease. I may lose some velocity but the pistol should become much smoother shooting.

Even the old spring fought me a little, though not nearly as much. When I drove in the pin that holds the end cap, the bolt that serves as a rear spring guide prevented it from going through the cap. However, one side was sufficient to hold the cap until I removed the bolt and tapped the pin all the way through.

Special note about the end cap

The pin that goes through the end cap to hold it on the spring tube goes in either side of the cap equally well. But there is only one way to do it right. A third hole in the bottom of the cap has threads to receive the screw we removed yesterday in step 5. Look at the last photo above and you will see this hole at the bottom of the end cap. If you assemble the cap upside-down it will go together, but there will be no hole to receive that screw and you will have to disassemble the powerplant to correct it.

Gene Salvino of Pyramyd Air’s tech department made mention yesterday of using a drill press to install the new spring. That’s a much better idea than the trigger clamp I used. Also, Gene says the P1 is not the spring gun to learn on, and I heartily agree. It’s very straightforward, but the mainspring is a challenge, as you have seen.

If you don’t own a drill press, my way with the bolt might still work. The bolt needs to be thinner (1/4-inch), to allow the cross pin to penetrate deeper and perhaps twice as long as the one shown above. It can’t be too long or it will hit the spring guide that’s in the piston and you won’t be able to get the end cap where it needs to be, for the pin to fit. Some form of the bolt might work. I think the drill press is the best idea though.

Assembly

I got the powerplant together and buttoned up this time. After that it was just 5 more minutes to finish assembling the gun. Before I drop the powerplant into the lower frame, though, let me show you inside.

Beeman P1 Lower frame
Looking down into the lower frame where the powerplant goes we see the piston catch (arrow) that some may call the sear.

Beeman P1 piston catch
Here’s a closer look at the piston catch. When the sear releases it, this catch is pushed down and away from the spring-loaded piston.

Job done

Like I said, after the powerplant was finished the rest was easy. Once the gun was together I test-fired it several times. It is now dead smooth, thanks to the TIAT grease. I compared it to my first P1 that I tuned with Beeman Mainspring Dampening Compound back in 1996 and this one is a shade smoother. Neither pistol vibrates but there is now less of a jolt when this one fires. Of course we didn’t know about Tune in a Tube back then.

Plans change

As I said at the start of this report, I had a plan to test the velocity of the pistol today, but that has changed. It now feels like a gun that’s just been tuned and I want to get some shots on this tune before I test velocity again. So I will test the accuracy next, and the velocity after that. I suspect the velocity has gone down somewhat, but the pistol is now so smooth that I probably won’t complain.

Cocking effort

What happened to the cocking? Does the pistol still hesitate at the low power notch? No, it doesn’t. The spring in this pistol feels a couple pounds harder to cock generally than the one in my first P1, and we know from testing it that it is, but it now moves smoothly past low power to high.

Summary

What about that new spring? Well, it needs to be scragged, so I will do that before I try to stick it in a P1. However, I’m thinking that this pistol may remain together if it continues to perform like it is.


The Beeman P1 air pistol: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Beeman P1
Beeman P1 air pistol.

This report covers:

  • Tools
  • Step 1
  • Step 2
  • Step 3
  • Step 4a
  • Step 4b
  • Step 5a
  • 5b
  • 5c
  • 5d
  • Step 6
  • A special tool
  • Step 7
  • Step 8
  • Release the clamp slowly
  • Step 9
  • The piston seal
  • Summary

Today is the day I disassemble my new/old Beeman P1 pistol. Several readers have been waiting patiently for this report.

Tools

The tools you need are:
12-inch/30-cm trigger clamp
A set of pin punches
2mm Allen wrench
2.5mm Allen wrench
Plastic/rubber hammer
Medium slotted screwdriver
A 5-inch length of clear vinyl tubing with a 1.25-inch (31.75mm) inside diameter

It will also help to have a couple small flat-bladed screwdrivers to help pry the piston out at the end of disassembly. Let’s go!

A lot of this will be pictures. The captions will explain what I’m doing.

Step 1

Remove both grip panels.

Step 2

Loosen the 2mm Allen screw at the bottom front of the gun

Beeman P1 2mm screw
Loosen but do not remove the 2mm screw at the bottom front of the pistol.

Step 3

Stick a paper clip through the interrupter hole in the grip to hold it fast.
Beeman P1 paper clip
A paper clip through the hole in the interrupter holds it fast.

Step 4a

Drive the front pivot pin out of the gun.
Beeman P1 pivot pin out
Drive the pivot pin out.

Step 4b

Remove the top of the pistol. Lay the pistol on its sights (upside-down) and ease the top that contains the barrel off the bottom. This will take some doing if the pistol is old and hasn’t been apart, but if you thumb back the hammer that locks the upper at the rear and apply upward (downward?) pressure, the top of the gun will come out of the bottom. The twin cocking link arms have to be slid to the rear of the powerplant to remove them, but you will see what to do.

Beeman P1 top off
The top of the gun, containing the barrel, lifts off the bottom. Invert the pistol to do this. The twin cocking links slide to the rear of the pistol to release.

Beeman P1 barrel
There is the barrel. Now you know where it lives and how it is held in.

Step 5a

Loosen but don’t remove the 2.5mm screw on the bottom of the frame. There’s only one. I didn’t take a picture of this one.

5b

Drive the large pin out of the rear of the frame, left to right.

Beeman P1 large pin
Drive the large pin out, left to right. Notice I’m not removing the small pin that’s behind and above it.

5c

Pull the hammer back. This unlocks the powerplant.

5d

Loosen the 2.5mm screw some more more and tap it in with the soft hammer head. This screw holds the powerplant inside the lower frame of the gun. Unscrew it as far as it will go and tap the screw head to loosen the powerplant assembly more. Then remove the screw.

Step 6

Remove the powerplant assembly from the lower frame. My gun has probably been together for 40 years and it was difficult to remove this assembly, but persistence paid off.

Beeman P1 powerplant assembly
The powerplant assembly contains the piston and mainspring. This is what makes the P1 go! It is still assembled at this point.

A special tool

Now you have to make a special tool. The 12-inch trigger clamp needs a notch on the lower part of its face on one end. The pictures will show how and why.

Beeman P1 cut notch
A knife is used to notch the bottom face of one end of the trigger clamp. This notch will fit a small projection on the powerplant.

Beeman P1 notch fits powerplant
The notch fits that small silver projection on one end of the powerplant. That will hold the powerplant in place when it is clamped!

Remember that 5-inch piece of clear vinyl tubing? Slide it over the powerplant before installing the powerplant in the clamp.

Step 7

Put the powerplant in the trigger clamp.

Beeman P1 powerplant in clamp
The powerplant is in the clamp with the clear tubing around it. That small silver projection is inside the notch we made at the left of this picture.

Step 8

Remove the end cap.
Now we will take the tension off the mainspring and you will see what the clear tube does.

Beeman P1 remove end cap
Drive out the pin to release the end cap. The clamp will hold the powerplant, so make sure it is secure in the jaws before that pin comes out!

Release the clamp slowly

Now we will take the tension off the mainspring. Tap the trigger of the clamp lightly with the hammer and the clamp jaws with open slowly. Keep the clear vinyl tube around the spring as it comes out of the powerplant. The spring guide is not in the end cap. It’s inside the piston. So the spring can get out of control as it relaxes outside the powerplant tube.

Beeman P1 spring comes out
I slid the clear tube back so you could see the mainspring. Beyond this far out, the clear tube needs to be in place.

Each time the hammer taps the trigger more spring comes out.

Beeman P1 spring relaxed
The mainspring was under a lot of compression!

Step 9

Remove the piston. My piston was tight inside the compression chamber and it took a lot of prying with screwdrivers through the many holes in the compression/spring tube that are there for that purpose — I think! But it came out.

Beeman P1 piston
The P1 piston.

The piston seal

The piston seal is like new. I have no intention of replacing it.

Beeman P1 piston seal
Piston seal is perfect!

The mainspring, on the other hand, has a slight kink. It’s usable, but since I have a new one that I got with the pistol, I’m replacing it. The old mainspring was caked with a dry crumbly substance that looks like dried-out grease. It was even shiny! From the outside of the powerplant it looked like moly, but it’s not.

Beeman P1 mainspring
The mainspring is not bad, but I have a new one, so I’m replacing it.

Summary

This entire disassembly took 45 minutes, which included taking all the pictures. Had I just worked on the gun it would have taken half that time. This process goes quickly and easily. I haven’t done it for 21 years and it still went fast.

Next I will lubricate the pistol and assemble it. Then I’ll test it for power again.

I still need to find why the pistol hesitated between low and high power, so there is more to be done. I’m enjoying this.


Feeling the Christmas spirit yet?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • What do you want for Christmas?
  • What’s the point?
  • So — what do you want for Christmas?
  • You are the key
  • Speed sells
  • Accuracy
  • PCPs
  • Handguns
  • One last thing
  • Summary

Well it’s upon us, that time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to… avarice! Last Friday was Black Friday — originally named for that shopping day when retailers count on their bottom lines turning from red to black for the year. In the beginning, it was whispered behind closed doors, to keep from informing the public of the delicate nature of business. Today it’s shouted through every advertising media channel for weeks before the day arrives — in the hopes of whipping up a buying frenzy. And it does. Some stores that are known for their deeply-discounted loss leaders have lines that form hours before the insanely early hour that their doors open.

Then there is “small business Saturday.” That’s the next day, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize the small businesses in their community. Small-business advocates like Yahoo and Facebook beat the drums to attract dollars to those businesses they steamroll the other 364 days each year.

The Monday after the weekend is Cyber Monday — the day when online retailers can expect to see an influx of traffic. And on and on…

In the 1947 hit Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street, Santa Claus taught us all to avoid all the commercialism and concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas — the fact that he really existed and lived in the imagination (a nation like any other, he told a young Natalie Wood). He was institutionalized for his claims until the New York court, with the support of the Treasury of the United States, rules that he is the one and only Santa.

What do you want for Christmas?

In this movie Santa rebels when he is told by Mr. Shellhammer, the Macey’s store manager, to push certain overstocked toys if a child is unsure of what to ask for. We see the same thing in A Christmas Story, when Santa suggests a football to young Ralphie Parker, who is sitting on his lap and momentarily draws a blank.

What’s the point?

Why the rant today? Because yesterday the message in my church was how to maintain our joy during this stressful season. What? Christmas stressful? Yes, it is.

Christmas used to be a holiday, didn’t it? Presents were exchanged, but they weren’t the point of the celebration. Today Christmas seems to mean the time to hunker down and prepare to erase hundreds of bogus emails that try to entice you to buy something from stores who bought your address somewhere and have no idea who you are.

So — what do you want for Christmas?

Instead of the 1,400 f.p.s. buzzy megamagnum breakbarrel that some corporate veep thinks you want, what do you really want this year? They will still sell a lot of those in the discount stores to customers who don’t know much about airguns and to people who have to buy presents for their favorite airgunners. But you’re not those people. You are reading this blog, which means you are informed and thoughtful about your hobby. So, what do you want?

You are the key

If the marketing department knew what their buyers wanted they could stock up on those items and exclude the other things that take up space and bring little return. That knowledge would be extremely valuable. It is at the heart of all the things marketing departments discuss.

Speed sells

I have been in meetings where marketeers insisted that an airgun shoot a minimum of 1,000 feet per second. Any less, they thought, was the kiss of death. Before you criticize them, look back on your entry into airgunning. You may find that you were one such customer. But now that we have gotten you spun up on what’s neat about airguns, here are a few basic things I think educated airgunner might want.

Accuracy

The newbies want velocity. Experienced airgunners want accuracy. They will also take velocity when they can get it, but only if it is accompanied by accuracy. That makes the TX200 Mark III the most desirable spring rifle around, and the Diana 34P a close runner-up.

Are there others? Sure, and I have recommended them in reports in the past. But these two are my top go-to recommendations, because in all the years I have been telling you about them (we are coming up on 13 years), and the hundreds of them that you purchased on my recommendation, I have had only one bad report about a TX200, and the one I got about the Diana 34P I tested for you earlier this year.

PCPs

What about precharged pneumatics (PCP)? Well, when we start looking at precharged guns the choice gets a lot more complex. Other considerations come into play; things like:

Repeater
Power
Trigger
Styling (bullpup or conventional)
Price
Sound suppression

I can recommend PCPs, but my recommendations are slanted by my tastes. If you don’t share my tastes you won’t like what I recommend. I will go out on a limb, though, and recommend two PCP air rifles.

If you want a PCP with a great trigger, good accuracy, and a repeating capability I recommend the Benjamin Marauder. This rifle has the features of PCPs costing twice as much and more, plus it has user adjustments that no other airgun has.

If you like single shot air rifles like me, I recommend the AirForce Talon SS. It was the first PCP to offer adjustable power and a shrouded barrel, and to date it is the only one that offers an easily changeable barrel in any of four calibers and three different lengths. Sure, if you get a barrel longer than 12 inches you’ll defeat the shroud, but there are aftermarket fixes for that. It’s Lothar Walther barrels will outshoot most PCPs or at least stay up with them. I run mine with a 24-inch .22 caliber barrel and an aftermarket bloop tube (shroud extension) that gives me quiet operation in the mid 40 foot-pound range and puts 10 shots into less than 3/4-inches at 50 yards. But that’s just me.

Handguns

Air pistols run the gambit from action pistol lookalikes, to serious hunting pistols. And my universal choices are the handgun versions of the PCP rifles I just recommended. Yes, I’m talking about the Marauder air pistol, although in this case I think you ought to look at the Woods Walker version of this airgun, as well. This pistol is a repeater that puts out 16 foot-pounds of energy with heavy .22 caliber pellets, so it’s great for even larger sized small game.

If you need even more power, though, I can recommend the TalonP from AirForce. In .25 caliber you’ll get close to 50 foot-pounds (I saw 57 in my test) from an air pistol, and that’s remarkable! This pistol will stack pellet on pellet at 40 yards, and AirForce makes a shoulder stock for it.

One last thing

There is one final thing I hope you are getting this year, if you don’t already have one — a chronograph. And I’m not recommending just any old chronograph. I am recommending you get a Shooting Chrony Alpha Master that has the remote control readout that separates you from the skyscreens by up to 15 feet. This is the one I use all the time and I have grown fond of it.

Summary

Well — there you have it! What began as a rant ended looking more like a Christmas Gift Guide, which I suppose was the intent all along!


How to sharpen a straight razor: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The bevel is the key
  • How to test for sharpness
  • Setting the bevel
  • How to move the blade against the stone
  • The center sharpens first
  • A progression of stones
  • Shaving is the best test
  • Blade shape and thickness
  • Inventing the kydex sharpening guide
  • Tie-in to airguns
  • Singing blades
  • Summary

Today I will tell you how to sharpen a straight razor. In the three months that I have been exploring this subject I have discovered that sharpening straight razors is a lot like learning about airguns. Of course the two have almost nothing in common, but what I’ve learned is there are many people talking about the subject without really knowing what they are talking about — or they have such poor communication skills that what they do know they cannot possibly pass to another person. That’s so like the field of airguns! There are people who can shoot extremely well, but for the life of them they can’t tell anyone else how to do it.

The bevel is the key

In airguns one important thing is how the gun is held. With straight razors it’s how well the bevel is set. I have spent three hours trying to sharpen one razor — all because I didn’t set the bevel right to begin with. I have done this on two separate occasions — each time wearing holes in my fingers from contact with the water stones for such a long period of time! The last time this happened, only two weeks ago, it finally dawned on me what I was doing wrong. I corrected myself and had that razor shaving sharp in 15 minutes. I wasn’t using a stone that was aggressive enough for the blade.

How to test for sharpness

I test every blade for sharpness, both before and after sharpening, by placing the edge against the pad of my thumb. This is a common practice in the community of people who sharpen razor blades. There is a “feel” to a blade that’s sharp enough to shave. The feeling is, if you were to slide the blade any distance, the thumb pad would be cut deeply. I would rate it as similar to a safe-cracker’s fingers working a combination lock or a gunpowder technician handling nitroglycerin. It is a learned feel and I won’t say more than that. Two weeks ago a friend showed me his knife that he said was razor sharp. I felt the blade this way and told him it wasn’t even close.

sharpness thumb test
I’m pressing my thumb hard against a shave-ready blade. If I were to move the thumb one millimeter (0.04-inches) I would be cut deeply! Just by touching the blade this way I am able to evaluate the sharpness to incredible accuracy.

Setting the bevel

If I am starting with a blade that needs complete sharpening, or one that has some damage, like chips out of the edge, I begin setting the bevel with a 220-grit water stone. If the blade I’m sharpening already has an edge that’s just dull, I start with a 1,000-grit stone. And, if the blade is already somewhat sharp — which is far sharper than most knives ever get — I might start with a 4,000-grit stone. Whatever stone I start with, the object is the same. I want an even bevel along the entire edge of the blade on both sides that runs from the point to the heel. That’s the entire length of the blade.

How to move the blade against the stone

This can be done in a variety of different ways. The edge always leads the spine when you sharpen on a stone. You can push the blade away from you, or you can turn it around and pull it toward you. You can also move it in either direction while making small circles on the stone. You can even move the blade in an arc. Just be sure to sharpen each side with the same number of strokes. The object of setting the bevel is to get the edge of the blade to meet in the middle. That is what I was not doing when I spent three hours chasing the edge in the section above.

sharpening on stone
I push the blade, edge-first, away from me. The edge and spine both touch the water stone. My fingers are pressing on the heel and point, to get them to make contact with the stone for an even bevel.

The center sharpens first

After sharpening about 40 straight razor blades I can tell you that all of them sharpened in the center section of the edge on both sides first. The point and the heel on both sides had to get extra work on every blade I have sharpened. This is done with finger pressure on the part of the blade you want to contact the stone. You don’t need to worry about the center because, once it gets a bevel, it will remain. It might get wider in the center, but that is controlled by the thickness of tape on the spine. You build up tape in the middle of the spine, opposite the place where the bevel is getting wider.

A progression of stones

Once the bevel is set, the razor is run through a progression of stones, starting with the next-finer grit above the bevel-setting stone and moving through 4,000, 8,000, 12,500, and finally 20,000-grit. After that I strop on a cloth belt impregnated with chromium oxide paste that has 0.5-micron particles. No source agrees on how these particles equate to grit sizes. I have seen everything from 30,000-grit to 61,000-grit. Let’s just call it very fine.

As I move to each finer stone I use fewer strokes. Setting the bevel will take hundreds of strokes. The next-higher grit will take about 60 strokes per side and above that about 30 strokes/side. The final stone might get only 15 strokes a side. Also I will stop putting any pressure on the blade after 4,000 grit. This is a judgement thing. I don’t want to give any exact numbers, but as the stones get finer the strokes per stone get fewer and the pressure on the blade lightens up.

The razor starts getting shaving sharp with the 8,000-grit stone. It will shave at that point, but will pull some hairs, too. At 12,500 the hair-pulling stops. So why do I go to 20,000? Because someone recommended that I do. Does it make the blade any sharper? Undoubtedly. Is that extra sharpness worth it? Probably not. Will I still do it? Without a doubt. Got to make that pricy stone worth the expense.

Shaving is the best test

There are several ways of testing a razor. I talked about the thumb test already and there are several different tests involving the cutting of hairs. But the best test is shaving. That’s why we sharpen the razor in the first place. The thing about shaving is every man’s beard type and skin type is different. So the best test we have is also quite subjective. But shaving with straight razors for three months has taught me some fundamental things.

Blade shape and thickness

The first straight razor I ever shaved with entirely was one made by George Wostenholm, a Sheffield maker, in about 1840-50. It has a thick blade that cuts whiskers with almost no feel. At first I thought it wasn’t cutting, but when I felt my face I was surprised to feel the whiskers gone.

It was a reader who put me onto heavy Sheffield blades from the middle of the 19th century and they share similar characteristics. They all have thicker blades and many have the round points that I now realize are for comfort. I love these kind of blades so much that I designed a blade and commissioned a maker to make it for me. I could not afford the Sheffield blades that are one inch tall (that’s sixteen 16ths in razor talk), because they sell starting on ebay at $600 and go quickly up over one thousand dollars when they are in good condition. So, I had a knife-maker friend make me one, instead. I got what I wanted and it opened a whole new profitable business for him! When a local barber saw my blade he ordered two like it to give as gifts.

These heavy English blades are smooth and make it much harder to cut yourself. Think of this kind of razor as the training wheels of straight razors. They are the exact opposite of the modern deeply hollow ground blades.

  1. tank razors
    The top razor was made to my design specifications. I bought it, and the maker made the bottom one as a gift for showing him how to make straight razors. The top one shaves like a dream! The bottom one has yet to be tested.

Inventing the kydex sharpening guide

In the process of making my razor, I also taught him how to sharpen razors, which he has to know if he’s going to start selling custom blades. I showed him how to tape the spine to protect it during sharpening, but then I got an idea. What if he made a guide out of kydex for the spine of each blade he makes? He makes knife sheaths out of the stuff, so he knows how to work it and he has plenty of it on hand. I have since sharpened five more of his blades — all with kydex guards, and they work perfectly.

kydex guide
The kydex guide slips over the razor’s spine and aligns the same every time. Each blade must have a guard made custom for the best fit.

Tie-in to airguns

If it hadn’t been for all the writing I do about airguns, I never would have thought of the kydex blade guide. It’s the same sort of thing as buttoning pistons for smoother operation.

Singing blades

One of our readers put me onto “singing” blades. These are blades that are so thin that when you pluck them like a guitar string, they ring like tiny bells. When you strop one it sings on the strop, as well. Once I discovered what they were I found two among the blades I own. Here is why that is important. The singing blade gives the closest, smoothest, most controlled shave of any razor I have tried. But you don’t want to start out learning to shave with one! They will cut you quickly if you don’t know what you are doing. A singing blade is like a Diana 34P. If you know how to shoot it, it’s incredible. If you don’t, it can be horrible. You don’t give a pupil a Stradivarius and you don’t learn to shave with a singing blade.

singing blades
This JA Henckels is a singing razor.

Summary

I think that’s it for this series. As a reminder, I did this to remind myself of what it feels like to enter a new hobby. That worked very well and gave me loads of fresh ideas for this blog. What I didn’t expect was that I would also enjoy shaving with a straight razor as much as I do.


Weihrauch’s HW55SF: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

HW 55SF
HW 55SF.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Barreled action
  • Trigger out
  • The trigger
  • Remove the end cap
  • Remove the piston
  • Extra parts?
  • Piston seal
  • Inspect the parts
  • Put everything back
  • Tighten the pivot bolt
  • Installing the trigger
  • The test
  • Summary

Many readers wanted to look inside the HW55 SF, and today is the day! This is a Weihrauch spring rifle, and it comes apart like most of them. There are a few differences that I will mention as we go. Let’s get started!

Barreled action

The first step after checking to make sure the rifle is not cocked and loaded is to remove the stock. On this rifle that means loosening three screws — one on the underside of the forearm and the two triggerguard screws. The screws can remain in the stock and triggerguard for safekeeping, but the triggerguard is removed from the stock. I’ll have something more to say about this during assembly.

HW 55 sight off
The sight comes off the action.

The next step is to remove the rear sight. That clears the dovetails for attaching the Air Venturi Rail Lock Spring Compressor. That has become a valuable tool for working on spring guns.

Trigger out

The next step is to remove the Rekord trigger. The HW55 has the special target Rekord that doesn’t have a safety, so when the trigger comes out there is no safety and spring to worry about. Just punch out the two pins left to right and the trigger is out.

HW 55 drift pins
Drift out the two pins that hold the trigger. I remove the front pin first and I go from the left side — opposite what this picture shows.

HW 55 pins out
With the pins out the trigger can be lifted out of the action.

The trigger

With the trigger out I can show you how this one differs from a standard Rekord. I’ll do it with pictures.

HW55 piston catch
The front of the piston catch is ground and hand-filed at the factory (arrow) to refine the engagement with the piston rod. A sporting Rekord is rounded at this point, unless someone filed it afterwards.

HW 55 piston catch rear
The rear of the piston catch that’s held by the sear (arrow) is also hand-filed at the factory.

HW 55 trigger return spring
The trigger return spring (arrow) is much lighter than the spring on a sporting Rekord. Hand-fitting the trigger parts makes it possible for this light spring to work.

Remove the end cap

Let’s get back to the rifle. To remove the end cap we unscrew it from the spring tube. I have attached the spring compressor and unscrewed the end cap until the last three threads hold it in the tube. Then the rod on the compressor is run in to hold the end cap and I start slowly unscrewing the cap and the rod in the compressor. When the end cap is out of the spring tube the compressor rod is unscrewed until all tension is off the mainspring.

HW 55 spring relaxed
The mainspring has just relaxed. So, there is almost 3-inches of spring precompression (the spring outside the tube plus the length of the threads) when the rifle is together.

Now the end cap is removed, the compressor is taken off the spring tube and the mainspring and its guide come out of the tube. When they did I found a small amount of grease on the mainspring. It wasn’t moly and it wasn’t lithium. It was some sort of general purpose grease. That tells me whoever tuned this rifle last was probably knowledgeable and conservative. It might have been a dealer.

The mainspring is also straight, so it’s good to put back in the rifle. The guide fits close but somewhat loose. These parts are factory for sure. I cleaned all the grease off the mainspring and rolled it on a flat surface, looking for a wobble. No wobble. As I told you, it is straight.

HW 55 spring out
The mainspring is straight. The medium-viscosity grease is on thin.

Remove the piston

To remove the piston the barrel must come off, so the cocking link can be removed from the piston. That’s done by removing the pivot bolt nut, followed by the pivot bolt.

HW 55 pivot nut off
The pivot nut and washer come off the right side of the gun. The washer is a circular wire that is a replacement from later than the 1968-69 manufacturing date. This rifle has been apart since it left the factory.

HW 55 pivot bolt out
Now the pivot bolt is removed. The barrel can then be removed from the action forks. Once it’s free, the cocking link can be taken out of the piston.

HW 55 barrel out
The barrel is separated from the action forks.

HW 55 slide piston out
Remove the piston by sliding it out the back of the spring tube.

When the piston came out I saw moly grease on the rear, where the piston body is swelled. There was no grease on the piston body forward of this. That tells me the tuner knew what he was doing.

HW 55 piston out
Only the swelled rear of the piston is greased.

Extra parts?

About this time I felt an “extra” part in my hand. Because I have experience with Weihrauchs, I knew it was a piece of the leaf spring that keeps tension on the articulated cocking link, so it doesn’t rattel. The other part of the leaf spring was still held by the forearm screw boss that was still in place. Was this a problem? Wait and see.

HW 55 screw boss
The forearm screw boss (left) and the broken leaf spring were removed.

Piston seal

I was somewhat surprised to see a synthetic piston seal in this gun. I would have thought it would be leather, but 20 years ago it was popular to replace the original leather seals with synthetic seals. At that time many people thought synthetic seals were better. I don’t, and I wish the original leather seal was still in the gun.

It is possible that this seal is original, though I have rebuilt two other HW55s that were a couple years newer than this one and they both had leather seals. The piston had to be changed for the synthetic seal to work, so if this was done is was a deliberate act.

At first glance the piston seal appeared to be ruined. It had a lot of black gunk caked on top and in the parachute groove. But I was able to clean most of the gunk off and what I found was a seal that’s still pliable and ready for more use. Because of that, I will press on and complete the cleaning and overhaul today. I may order a replacement leaf spring, but I will put the rifle back together and use it without the spring.

HW 55 piston seal before
At first glance the piston seal looks ruined.

HW 55 piston seal after
After cleaning the seal; is okay and still pliable.

Inspect the parts

At this point I inspected all the parts, including inside the spring tube. The cylinder is crosshatched well and surprisingly clean. All the parts were in good condition, except for that leaf spring, so the gun is good to go.

Put everything back

I lubed the piston seal with Air Venturi Moly Paste and slid it back into the gun.

HW 55 piston seal lubed
The seal was lubed with a thin coat of moly grease.

I also lubed the swelled back end of the piston with moly. The body of the piston never touches the inside of the spring tube, but the swelled back end and the piston seal both do. That’s where the grease is needed.

HW 55 piston end lubed
The back of the piston is swelled to guide it inside the tube (if it bumps the inside of the tube). That got some moly.

The gun then went together the reverse of coming apart. I don’t like it when people say that, but it’s true. I will discuss the few things you need to watch for, but first, I lubed the mainspring with a good coat of Tune in a Tube grease.

HW 55 mainspring lubed
Mainspring lubed with Tune in a Tube.

Tighten the pivot bolt

I lubed the pivot bolt with moly before inserting it. When you tighten the pivot bolt, remember to get it tight enough to hold the barrel in position after the gun is cocked.

Installing the trigger

When installing a Rekord trigger it helps to cock it first. Do that by pressing down on the back of the piston latch until the sear grabs it.

HW 55 cock trigger
Press down on the back of the piston latch to cock the trigger before installation.

The gun went together smoothly. Just remember when you tighten the triggerguard screws that the rear (smaller) screw is going into a threaded piece of sheetmetal in the trigger body. Don’t tighten it too much! If you strip it a nut can be inserted to hold the screw, but it’s a chore.

The test

After the rifle is together I pulled the trigger because it had been cocked to install. Then I cocked the rifle to load it. Cocking was smooth and this time there was no hesitation in the stroke. Remember that? There was a spike in the cocking effort toward the end of the barrel stroke.

Then I fired it with a pellet. Dead smooth! So smooth that I don’t think I will do anything else to this rifle except retest the velocity and accuracy for you.

Summary

It took me 90 minutes to do everything seen here, including taking a lot more pictures than you see. These older Weihrauch air rifles are so easy to work on!


Hatsan Bullmaster PCP: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hatsan Bullmaster
Hatsan Bullmaster semiautomatic bullpup PCP.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • H&N Baracuda
  • Trigger
  • Field Target Trophy
  • H&N Sniper Light
  • JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
  • Bug Buster performance
  • Summary

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers! I hope all of you have lots to be thankful for!

Today we complete the first accuracy test of the Hatsan Bullmaster. Let’s get right to it.

The test

I told you how I sighted in in Part 3. Today I set up at 25 yards and started shooting with the H&N Baracuda pellets that were used to sight in. The first round landed on paper, and 3 rounds later I was sighted in. I normally don’t like to hit the center of the bull because it destroys the aim point, but the reticle in the UTG 3-12X32 AO Bug Buster scope is so clear and sharp that I could guesstimate exactly where the center of the bull was.

I shot off a sandbag rest. And you need to know one other thing. We learned  in Part 2 that the BullMaster has a lot of shots on a fill, so I shot this whole test on one fill. Couple that with the semiautomatic action and you have a fast-firing and accurate rifle, as you will soon learn.

H&N Baracuda

Hatsan sent the BullMaster and the Sortie pistol with three different H&N pellets. I figured they might be the best in the gun, so I tried all three. The Baracudas were best in the Sortie, so it was no surprise to see them do well in the rifle. Ten grouped in 0.702-inches at 25 yards, but as the picture shows, 9 of them are in 0.42-inches between centers. That qualifies as a screamer. The dime will give you the proportions very accurately.

Hatsan Bullmaster Baracuda group
Ten H&N Baracudas are in 0.702-inches, with 9 in 0.42-inches. Yes, that includes the hole to the right of the main group.

Trigger

What a start! I figured it was all smooth sailing fpr the rest of this test. I will comment that the trigger feels too heavy, now that I’m concentrating on the target. But not one time in this test did the trigger pull me off target. I would just like it to break at half the weight.

Field Target Trophy

Next up were 10 H&N Field Target Trophys with a 5.53mm head. These have never done well in any of my tests, but the BullMaster seems to like them. Ten went into 0.758-inches at 25 yards. They will get tested at 50 yards, too.

Hatsan Bullmaster FTT group
Ten Field Target Trophy pellets went into 0.758-inches at 25 yards.

H&N Sniper Light

The only pellet sent by Hatsan that made no sense to me was the H&N Sniper Light with a 5.50mm head. They didn’t group well in the Sortie and they didn’t group well in the BullMaster. Maybe Hatsan has a relationship with H&N that compels them to use their pellets, but this is not one I would chose for this rifle. Ten went into a scattered 0.997-inch group at 25 yards.

Hatsan Bullmaster Sniper Light group
Ten Sniper Light pellets went into an open 0.997-inch group at 25 yards.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

The beauty of being independent is I can test an airgun with anything I want. Looking at the BullMaster’s power my first choice for a pellet is the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. At 18.13 grains it seems ideal for the power the BullMaster offers, plus it has a reputation for being one of the most accurate of all .22 caliber pellets. Ten of them went into a group that measures 0.536-inches between centers. Not only is this the tightest group of the test, it is also the roundest, telling us of the consistency of this pellet in the BullMaster.

Hatsan Bullmaster JSB Exact Jumbo group
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets went into a very round group at 25 yards that measures 0.536-inches between centers.

Bug Buster performance

I have to say that the Bug Buster 3-12 scope did its job in this test. The image is not as clear as I would like, but at 25 yards I can see the concentric circles of the bullseye good enough. And the reticle that I said was about medium I will now say is thicker than I told you. It made aiming easy. It’s a great scope for this bullpup and for hunters — saving lots of weight and size, while delivering good performance. But it’s probably not the scope for shooting small groups at long distances.

Summary

I now have three pellets to test at 50 yards. And I will continue to test the Bug Buster scope, as well. This is turning into a very pleasant and fun test!


Hatsan Bullmaster PCP: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hatsan Bullmaster
Hatsan Bullmaster semiautomatic bullpup PCP.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Mounting the rings
  • Problem
  • Enter BKL
  • Two strap rings
  • More to mounting a scope
  • Shim the rear mount
  • Position and level the scope
  • Adjust the eyepiece
  • Thickness of the reticle lines
  • Is this scope clear?
  • Scope mounted — what’s next?
  • Summary

Today is Part 3 of my report on the new Hatsan Bullmaster precharged pneumatic airgun, but you may recall that I introduced two new products in Part 2 — the new UTG 3-12X32 AO Bug Buster scope and some UTG Accu-Sync scope rings that are so new they aren’t even on the Pyramyd Air website yet. Normally in Part 3 I start testing the accuracy of the airgun under review, but today I’m going to discuss mounting this new scope and getting the rifle set up to test. With all the new readers that have joined us over the past several months it seems like the right thing to do. Let’s get started.

Mounting the rings

Step one will be to mount these new rings on the rifle. Hatsan has made this very easy by providing a scope base that accepts both 11mm airgun scope rings and Picatinney/Weaver rings. The Accu-Sync rings I’m mounting have Picatinney bases, so they should be easy to mount — except for one thing. Bug Buster scopes have very short tubes that the rings attach to, so the position of the rings, fore and aft, is critical. Picatinney bases have cross slots that can cause a problem for fore and aft positioning. Let’s see how this goes.

Problem

Right away there was a problem. The UTG rings have lugs that are 5.02mm wide, which should fit into the cross slots of a MIL-STD (military standard) 1913 Picatinney (STANAG 2324) rail system. The bases on the test Bullmaster have cross slots that are 4.86 mm wide, which is undersized for the lugs of a Picatinney mount. Picatinney cross slots are a minimum of 5.23mm wide. So, even though it looks right, the base on the BullMaster I’m testing does not meet the MIL STD and cannot accept the UTG Accu-Sync MIL STD rings. Boy — am I glad I decided to report this for you! Weaver rings that have 3.5mm lugs will fit on the Bullmaster rail fine, but not Picatinney rings.

Enter BKL

The Bug Buster scope came with medium height rings of its own that I could have used, but because this is a bullpup, high rings are better. When something like this happens I reach for some high BKL scope rings that attach to an 11mm scope base by clamping pressure, alone. Fortunately the BullMaster also has a dovetail that’s 11.57mm wide.

Hatsan Bullmaster scope rail
The 11mm scope rail dovetail on top came into play because the cross slots in the rail below are not cut to the MIL STD.

I selected BKL 263 MB 2-piece high scope rings for this job. Whenever you mount a compact scope, and especially when it’s a Bug Buster, you can only use 2-piece rings because the positioning of each ring is so critical. One-piece rings are a fixed distance apart, and it’s usually a distance that does not coincide with your needs. Because of the Bug Buster scope’s short tube on either side of the turret, the rings have very little fore and aft leeway.

Two strap rings

BKL did something clever with the top strap of the ring. Instead of making it a wide single strap, they put two separate straps on top of each ring. This is clever because it releases you from the need to torque the strap screws in a certain pattern to keep from putting uneven torque on the scope tube.

Hatsan BullMaster scope straps
As you can see, the BKL scope straps are separate, even though they are on the same ring. This decreases the importance of torquing each strap the same, though you do still want to be close.

More to mounting a scope

There is more to mounting a scope than just putting it securely on the rifle. The eyepiece needs to be located at the correct distance from your sighting eye. On many spring rifles Bug Busters are hard to position correctly, but the Bullmaster has a long scope base that makes it easy to find the right place.

Shim the rear mount

Whenever I mount a scope on any air rifle I have never shot before, I always put a shim under the scope — on the bottom saddle of the rear ring. That little bit of shimming tilts the scope slightly down in front and usually compensates for any droop the rifle may have. I use a piece of expired credit card, which is a thicker piece of plastic than what you get from a 2-liter soda bottle. Don’t use two of these credit card shims; one should be plenty. If you need more than that, shimming is not the answer. You need an adjustable scope mount.

Position and level the scope

Positioning means to place the scope far enough from your sighting eye that the image looks full and clear to you. Leveling means the reticle lines are level with the gun. There is just one problem with that. There is no way to tell when a rifle is level, because level has no concrete meaning. The best you can hope for it to adjust the scope so that when you hold the rifle the reticle lines appear level. If they don’t, they will bother you as you shoot. The gun will be just as accurate, but when you adjust for windage, the strike of the round will also move up and down as it goes left and right. And when you adjust the elevation the round will also wander left and right. This is why some rifles shoot a little to the right at 20 yards and a little to the left at 40 yards.

Some shooters get anal over “leveling” their scopes. They hang plumb lines at 50 yards and adjust the scope in the rings until the vertical reticle is parallel to the line. I used to do that, until I realized that it doesn’t make any difference.

You can worry about leveling as much or as little as you want. At the end of everything you must be satisfied that the scope is mounted correctly.

Adjust the eyepiece

After I get the scope positioned and leveled, I adjust the eyepiece so both reticle lines appear as one solid line. That will make your parallax adjustment come out as close to the yardage indicated on the AO scale as possible. If you don’t do it the indicated yardage can be off by 20 yards. That defeats the rangefinding capability of your AO scope. Of course a 12 power scope really isn’t an effective rangefinder, but having the reticle lines solid also makes aiming easier.

Hatsan BullMaster scoped
The new Bug Buster scope compliments the small size of the BullMaster.

Hatsan BullMaster scope detail
This closeup shows just how short the Bug Buster scope tube is. Once the scope is in the rings there is almost no room to move the scope fore and aft.

Thickness of the reticle lines

Bug Buster scopes in the past have had very thick reticle lines. In the scope I am testing the lines are medium width. They are thick enough to pick up easily in the woods, but too thick for shooting quarter-inch groups at 100 yards.

The Bug Buster reticle is a duplex pattern, meaning the lines are thick at the edges and fine in the center. This is what a hunter wants, because the thick lines point to where the thin lines are, and in deep woods that’s what you want. The thin lines have mil dots that are spaced one mil apart, if you are into rangefinding with the angular measurements they provide. I use them as alternate aim points when shooting at different distances, which is fairly common.

Is this scope clear?

A reader commented that he didn’t think a 32mm objective is large enough for 12 power magnification, and the scope will not be bright as a result. I could tell you that it looks bright to me, but that’s just the other side of a subjective argument that can’t be proved either way. I think I need to get to the range and see how it performs on 50-yard targets to have a better way of evaluating the brightness. At my range the 50-yard targets are often dim and hard to see in the early morning, so this should be an acid test.

Scope mounted — what’s next?

After I mount a scope I like to check the rifle for zero at 12 feet on a target. I can tell from where the first pellet strikes the target if I will be on target at 25 yards for the accuracy test. My plan is to begin shooting with the H&N Baracuda pellets Hatsan sent with the rifle, so that’s what I will use for this.

The first shot landed at the right height but over to the right. I adjusted the scope and shot two hit to the left. So I dialed the scope back halfway and the third shot landed close enough to the center that I can accept it. A shots from 18 yards put a pellet about 5 inches higher than the aim point. That’s on paper at 25 yards in three shots (plus a check shot).

Summary

When I started today’s report I didn’t know how much material there would be, but it turned out for the best. I got to walk you thorough the process of getting a rifle ready for an accuracy test. And, because of the problem I had mounting the scope rings, there was even more to cover than I thought. The rifle is now ready to shoot for accuracy and I will do that tomorrow.