When things go wrong
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Show us!
- Range time
- Hatsan Hercules
- Chrono work
- My give up!
- Good things
- Cocking effort
- On to the TexanSS
- Air it up
- Movie night
- It works
I’m taking a sick day today. For me that means writing a report that I don’t have to work hard to create. Actually, I spent about 6 hours gathering the information you are about to read, but that time should be be amortized across two other reports — one of which you have already seen (HW85 Part 6) and one you will hopefully see soon (Remington model 33 Part 3).
Last week I told you why I stopped testing the Modoc big bore rifle and several readers said they wish I would have reported on what happened. I told you that the second rifle failed to work and I called it quits, but you wanted more details. Well today you will get them!
I have to test big bore air rifles at the rifle range. They are just too powerful and loud to test in my house. But range time comes at a cost. The day I go to the range takes an hour to pack the truck, an hour in transportation both ways and it kills that day for anything else. I typically go on Fridays, which leaves me Saturday to write my blog for the following Monday. I try to get a lot done every time I go, to offset the loss of time.
The first big bore I planned testing was the .45 caliber Hatsan Hercules was last reported back in December. It was weighing on my mind.
I planned to shoot the Herc through the chronograph and also for accuracy, since both tests need to be done at the range. I can’t align the chrony well enough to do both at the same time, so I chronograph first, then shoot for accuracy.
It took a couple shots to get the chrony to register, then I recorded two velocities — 761 and 758 f.p.s. That translates to 217.38 foot pounds and 215.67 foot-pounds, respectively. Then I tried to cock the rifle for what would have been shot 6 and it failed to cock. I let the sidelever go forward and tried cocking again. Letting the lever go forward was a mistake because the bolt pushed the next bullet halfway out of the magazine and into the breech — locking the magazine in the action.
My give up!
I fussed with the Hercules for several minutes trying to remove the magazine, until realizing that I had to rod that bullet out of the breech before the mag could be removed. I do carry cleaning rods in my range bag, but the Hercules barrel is too long for the field rods I carry. I have a 36-inch rod at home that worked perfectly and the Herc was back in business.
But I wasn’t! I contacted Hatsan and told them my experiences. This is what they told me. Yes, the Hercules is hard to cock and you need to have it against your shoulder when doing so. I must not have done that because I was chronographing and moving the gun around to align with the skyscreens. That is what lead to the fault.
Two good things did come of this. I asked Hatsan for another box of .45 caliber pellets, so I can do a better accuracy test. I lost about a third of the box they sent, trying to load that mag that was undersized, plus the one I damaged this time, so another box should be good.
The second thing to come out of this is I measured the cocking effort. I knew it is high, but not exactly how high. The Hercules I am testing cocks at between 60 and 70 pounds effort. I can’t be more precise than that because the cocking lever does not move smoothly and the scale needle was spiking between 60 and 70 lbs. The cocking lever is short and close to your cheek so the leverage is not optimum. I will remember next time to get the rifle on my shoulder each time I cock it.
On to the TexanSS
I packed up the Hercules and unpacked the .45-caliber TexanSS. All I wanted to do this day was get a start on chronographing it, because with its adjustable power and the ability to handle many different bullets, the TexanSS gives an infinite number of combinations.
Air it up
So, I attached the carbon fiber tank hose to the TexanSS Foster fitting and opened the tank valve. Air rushed out the muzzle of the gun!
Apparently this was BB’s day to be humbled at the range. This was the second big bore with a problem. I cocked the action to relieve tension on the firing valve (or so I thought) and tried again. Again air rushed out the muzzle. That was all she wrote. I didn’t have the manual at the range, so there was no way of finding out whether anything could be done. However, I just checked the manual in my office and this situation is not addressed.
As luck would have it, I had been invited over to John McCaslin’s (the owner of AirForce Airguns) house to watch a move that same evening. He has a huge big screen TV, so this is a real treat. When I arrived I walked him though all that had happened at the range and he asked me if I had tried to fill the rifle with the cocking lever moved forward. I told him I had cocked the rifle, but he asked again — did I then leave the cocking lever forward? I couldn’t remember doing that, so he told me that even when the rifle is cocked there is still tension on the firing valve when the cocking lever is closed. It’s there to ensure a positive contact with the valve at all times. On some Texans and Texan SS rifles when the reservoir is completely empty, this small tension will prevent the valve from closing and exactly what had happened to me will happen.
Sure enough, this morning I filled the reservoir by cocking the bolt, then leaving the bolt handle forward. This only has to be done when the tank is completely empty, which it will never be again. I always leave at least 2,000 psi in the tank all the time to keep the valve closed — for reasons like this. I didn’t have this problem with my Texan because it came to me with a caretaker air charge already in the tank.
When this second problem arose on the range, I slapped my forehead and said, “They’ll never believe me. This should be in a blog!” Then I remembered what several readers had said last week about writing up the problem tests and I decided to report it.
I guess the moral is — stop and think it through. Or conversely — never give up; never surrender!
Now, I’m going to take a nap.