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
  • Moral

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).

Show us!

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!

Range time

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.

Hatsan Hercules

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.

Hercules on bench
I attached a UTG bipod to the Hercules for shooting off the bench. It pushes the rifle’s combined weight over 16 lbs. but as you can see, it makes it easy to handle.

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.

Hercules with chronograph
I shot the Hercules through the chronograph first.

Chrono work

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.

Good things

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.

Cocking effort

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!

OH, NO!

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.

Movie night

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.

It works

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.

Moral

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.

71 thoughts on “When things go wrong

  1. B.B.,

    Considering the pace of your work and your age you are entitled to some sick days.

    Big bores are nice to think about, fascinating to read about, but as troublesome as firearms to shoot. No, thank you. I’ll stick to .22 for now.

    Looking over the picture of the Hatsan Hercules QE .45 it looks like they can lengthen the cocking lever a little bit more to ease the effort required. Although it is very ugly, having those important instructions written on the gun itself can minimize the aggravation of excited shooters who do not want to bother reading the manual. I had thought you would have no problems with the single shot Texan compared to the magazine fed Hatsan Hercules, but lo and behold even a single shot can pose a challenge. Even with your experience you can still get flummoxed by these newly introduced big bore air rifles.

    Take things easy. You still have eye surgery next month if I recall correctly.

    Siraniko


  2. BB and all
    When I take a PCP apart to do work on. Of course I degass it first. Then do the work. And when I refill for the first time I cock the gun. That keeps the hammer/striker off the valve stem.

    If not they usually don’t want to accept the charge.



      • BB
        Which way does the Texan cock? When you pull the bolt back or when you push it forward? That would make a difference. Like on the other AirForce guns you cock the gun by pushing forward towards the barrel. That would keep the striker off of the top hat. If you then closed the breech I guess it’s called.then it would rest up against the top hat even be with the gun cocked. Closing the breech on a normal AirForce gun which is pulling it closed back towards your shoulder. That would make it hard to fill if the bottle is empty with the spin lock tank.

        So I guess I don’t know how the Texan cocks and wich way the lever is when the breech is open to load a bullet. Of course without diving through stuff and looking back.

        And guns like the Discovery, Maximus, Marauder, Marauder pistol, 1720T and so on. The striker rests on the valve stem on some tunes. If there is no air in the resivoir the striker can keep the top hat open. There is no air in the valve to keep pressure on it to keep it seated.

        The


        • GF1,

          The TexanSS cocks by moving the lever forward against no resistance. The sear catches the striker when it is forward and the light resistance is all on the back stroke.

          But that does not prevent the bolt from putting some tension on the valve. Every time the cocking lever is back there is some tension on the valve stem — cocked or not. That was what I tried to explain above. The Texan action works entirely different than any other airgun.

          I have been quite used to Korean PCPs that have to be cocked to fill the reservoir from empty. The Texan is more complex than they are and cocking is so light that you would think the striker has very little tension. But that’s not the case.

          B.B.


      • BB
        Ok and rereading it sounds like the Texan is like other AirForce guns.

        Basically after the gun is cocked and if you close the breech back towards your shoulder it will close and rest on the top hat.

        And yes I know that also from my spin lock tank Talon SS I had.

        And do remember you saying one time back when I had my first Talon SS that wasn’t a spin lock tank. You had to unscrew the bottle from the gun. Then screw the adapter on the bottle to fill. If it was empty of you would put a penny inbetween the top hat and adapter. Or something similar to that.




      • The reason I say that is I guess I’m use to discussing a job directly with the place I’m thinking about going to. The third party stuff never has hit it off with me.

        And not that I would want the job anyway. Just from looking at the link you provided. It looks like the job consists of looking at guns that are returned for one reason or another. Diagnosing the problem then fixing if possible.

        It’s bad enough doing to your own gun let alone doing it all day long.



          • Mildot52
            Some things to think about though.

            First relocating cost if the jobs in another state. Then pay would have to be equivalent to take care of current obligations. Or better for that fact to change from a job you already know you have. Then there’s benefits like vacation time. Would be hard to change jobs if you already get 4 weeks of vacation then go to the new job and only get one week. Then is insurance cost out of your paycheck still the same or less or more.

            Then on the other part about learning. I do believe if your going to take the job that’s described in the link that you better already know something about air guns. And that’s what I read from BB’s link. I didn’t even open the link. Like I said I don’t care for that 3rd party stuff. If I’m looking at getting a job somewhere. I want to talk to who I’m going to be working for. And then I want a paper written and signed to what we agree on. Done seen how that turn of events when with people I worked with in the past.

            So a little more to it than what you described. For me anyway if I’m taking a different job.


  3. B.B.,

    Well first,.. I thought you were taking the day off? 😉 Nice article. I can not say I have had a day like that. The most frustration I have experienced is when the 92FS started acting up and I went into tear down mode. Lots of parts in that one! I did not give up and a good clean and lube was all that was needed.

    At any rate,.. get to feeling better soon. That flu got me and I have not been sick in 30+ years. Plus, it seems to linger a bit.

    Good Day to you and to all,….. Chris



    • Yogi,

      You are, for certain,.. a “hard case” when it comes to PCP’s. 😉

      I give up!,.. (finally) 🙂 I wish you the very best with the “Sproinger’s”,.. as the infamous Ridge Runner likes to say.


  4. BB,

    Sometimes the dragon wins.

    That Hatsan is most appropriately named. You have to be Hercules to handle it. It is definitely not what I would consider a hunting rifle, not unless you had a gun bearer.


    • Yes, a gun bearer! Schlep that range bag, set up the chrony, load magazines, pick up brass. Like a golf caddy. For us decrepit old shooters. 😉
      Praying for a quick BB bounceback.



  5. B.B.,

    I have had MANY days like the one you had at the range. (Perhaps it evens out, because some days almost everything goes right.) Sometimes I clear as much from my schedule as possible and pack it in for the day. Lie on the sofa with a cold beer and watch the Man with No Name trilogy. That will provide over seven hours of movie-watching bliss, a six-pack, and big bag of pretzels (or better yet, a delivered pizza).

    Get well soon,

    Michael


  6. B.B.,

    It just fully dawned on me. 60 – 70 pounds of cocking effort? With that tiny lever? I guess we now know how Hatsan came up with the name Hercules. Hercules is the only one who could cock it!

    And a side note: Please, pretty please, review the Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action as soon as you can.

    Michael


    • B.B.,

      I just noticed that the new Legends rifle is BB only. As far as I’m concerned, you can take your time with that one. I’ll wait until the pellet-shooter comes out. My Walther Lever Action is a proven shooter with its rifled barrel and pellet shooting mechanism. And if I want to shoot BBs with a lever gun, I’ve got a Daisy 1894.

      Michael



      • Michael,
        I agree with you on this one. Velocity is only listed at 535 fps vs your pellet shooter being 600 fps. I do like it the bb shooter is back to taking 2 C02 carts instead of the 88 gr. That also makes the stock look better to me.

        Doc


        • B.B.
          In the test of the Walther lever action pellet rifle, you spoke about the high # of shots you got out of the 88gr C02 cart. My question is, is there a way to “turn off” the cart or take it out without losing all the c02? I’ve seen on/off vales for sale, but not sure they’d fit in something like that. I think it’s considered “good” to leave some charge in the gun, but it would seem like leaving that much (assuming one didn’t shoot it much) in the gun wouldn’t be good. At the least you could loose the charge in the bottle. With 12 gr carts it isn’t a big deal. But those 88 gr are more expensive and harder to find.

          Doc


    • Michael,

      I like it. Heck, I love it. I am just not sure how I would do with open sights. The Red Ryder is all I have and that does not work well. While ejecting shells is a super cool idea, I think that picking them might get old pretty quick. Indoors? Shells flying all about? Concrete impact? $199 surprised me a bit. They nailed the looks. No faux brass? 🙁 Pellet version in .177 would be ideal, without cartridges, or bb version without cartridges. Dang it. I was hoping for a souped up version of the “brass” version of the 1894. Co2 is fine. Not the big 88’s though. At least something of a scope rail would be very welcome. Not everyone can do opens and if they ever did, maybe they can’t no more,.. just sayin’.

      Looking forwards to testing. Dang!,…. (soooo close). Rail, no cartridge,.. I would do $199. Faux brass, I would do a buck more.

      Picky? Maybe? I do not remember anyone (Umerex) asking my opinion though. Who ever gets asked? Well,.. other than B.B.,…. 😉


  7. I must be missing something. I am really surprised at the cocking force required for the Hercules.

    Went downstairs and checked the cocking force on my side-lever PCPs. The HW100s were both under 3 pounds and the FX Royale was around 6 pounds.

    You would think that they could do better than 60-70 pounds! Heck, its a PCP! None of my springers come close to half that cocking force.

    Hank


  8. BB

    Flu is rampart here. Hope you don’t have it.

    You mentioned a while back that an outdoor range facility was in the works at your place. Hoping that is still on the table.

    Had thought about stepping over to the dark side. I’m less inclined now. My thirst for speed and power was recently quenched shooting my firearms on a well managed pistol and rifle range. Some readers don’t have that opportunity.

    Get well soon.

    Decksniper


  9. BB,
    I am reading this at 7:00 AM but I am ready for a nap too.

    I think you have answered this before but I have a question about the old Airgun Letters Forum. Why was it yellow?
    Network 54 has been sold and the forums are supposed to be migrating to a new format. It made me thing about what I like about the forum and what changes I would like to see. I really like the old format though. My airgun forum has been yellow since I first became interested in airguns and started following the AGLF.

    Hope you feel rested from your nap,

    David Enoch


    • David,.

      When Edith and I designed the Airgun Forum we researched what was the easiest text to read on a computer screen. In those days there were still some green screens in the Windows community (they were called the IBM PC community back then), but the move was on to color screens.

      We learned that black type against a yellow background made the easiest-to-read setting for computer screens, and whatever font and type size we used was chosen the same way. When James Kitching asked to buy the Airgun Forum from us, we declined, but we told him that nothing we had used was patented. So he decided to go with black type on the yellow background and the Yellow Forum was born.

      B.B.


  10. B.B.,
    I just wanted to let you know that I did receiver my ‘Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chroograph’ from Pyramyd Air. It was really late when got home and saw the box; I didn’t want to wake my wife, but I HAD to test I right away, so used the Beeman Webley Tempest (circa 1982) I inherited from my Dad to try it out. The chronograph is VERY easy to use! I put in a 9V battery, flipped it on, and it displayed ‘rdy’ to tell me it was ready for use. The first shot was 445 fps (see pic), followed by 446, 442, 434, and 436 fps for the rest of the group; that’s a 12 fps spread and 440 fps average (3.1 ft-lbs of energy with JSB RS diablos at 7.3 g). Not bad for a 35 year old Tempest with the original spring. This chrono will hold 9 shot strings in memory; for me, one would be enough. This chrono will more than meet my needs, and it is sooo easy to use! This weekend, I plan to check out the old vintage Sheridan, with the old Sheridan ‘cans’ I used to shoot versus the JSBs I use now. =D


  11. Can anyone give an ideal use of the Hatsan Hercules in which it would be preferable over other big bores such as the Texan? I keep trying and I can’t come up with a scenario. So I went back through Parts 1 and 2 of the Hercules blogs plus the above and put together my list of pros and cons for the rifle. I’m not trying to knock Hatsan or the Hercules, I’m just trying to find a use for the rifle in which it would out perform other big bore air guns.

    Pros:
    45 cal. 7 shot repeater
    1000cc reservoir = lots of shots
    250 bar fill
    Adjustable stock
    Adjustable trigger
    Manual safety
    Price $1,099.99

    Cons:
    Weight – rifle, scope, and bipod over 16#s. As stated in the comments, need a rifle barer.
    Proprietary ammo – $30 for 45 bullets
    Fill probe instead of Foster quick connect
    Fill port issue from part 2 – difficulty in inserting the probe due to spring tension on the shutter
    250 bar fill – needs a big carbon fiber air tank
    Use of air (from part 2) – 21 shots dropped BB’s 98 cu ft tank dropped from 4500 PSI to 3500 PSI
    BB mentions in part 1 that shooters under 5’ 8” with 32” arms or less are not going to fit this rifle well
    Undersized magazine issue (Part 1) (poor quality control?)
    Cocking effort of 60 to 70 pounds
    Cocking lever is short and close to cheek reducing leverage
    Magazine feeding issue – need to have rifle against should when cocking
    FPE only 215 to 218 FPE?
    Do you really need a repeater in a big bore? The first shot better count.

    Jim


  12. Off subject- a new Sig break barrel? This sounds very exciting. Looks like break barrels are continuing to strive with new ideas still coming out. Lots of promises from Sig on this one. Oh and it’s MADE IS THE USA.
    B.B., can we expect a full test tomorrow 🙂 Just kidding, but maybe sometime this year. My biggest wish isn’t high tech stuff, just not hold sensitive.
    http://hardairmagazine.com/news/sig-sauer-introduces-new-sig-sauer-asp20-air-rifle/

    Doc



      • I have a cop buddy who carries a Sig 220 .45 acp as his “backup gun” (yes, he’s a BIG guy! =>).
        He says Sigs are “world class,” so he can bet his life on them.
        So yes, Sig has a great reputation and this new air rifle looks like a well-thought-out piece of engineering.
        It will be interesting to see how it performs.


        • Dave,

          I am reminded of Diana/Stormrider. USA?,…ok. Good?,.. maybe. I guess the bottom line for me is that I am wary of “branding”,.. on the sake of a well known brand. I guess too,… if you got a well known and respected brand and you want to enter a new market,… for God sakes,…. DO your homework!

          There is nothing to be gained to further the brand name if you do not. Quite the opposite,.. perhaps.


  13. BB
    I was going to mention and forgot. Is that the same shooting range you go to. It looks different. Maybe different location your taking the picture from.

    And it looks well buried from the wind. What distance are the targets at? And it’s hard to tell in the picture but it looks like some kind of concrete block wall as the back stop. If it’s solid concrete no problem. But if it’s those hollow type blocks that have the two holes in the middle. Will it stop a Texan bullet from going through both sides? Those Texans are making serious fpe ya know.


  14. I do sympathize with problems at the range since I never have a session without them. The last one with the 9mm conversion of the AR was one of the worst. Yes, thinking it through and being persistent are the horns of the bull to overcome the problem. Hope you feel better, B.B. A Navy SEAL in a book I read said that “rest is a weapon.”

    Resting also offers the opportunity to reflect on such things as the ultimate target range that I read about recently. It comes from a novel about ancient Egypt which deals with the Biblical plague of toads. However, these toads are not generated by divine power but by sorcery, and they look the part. They are large and agile as dogs; their skin drips poison; and they eat carrion and any humans they can catch. With such large and reactive targets and a moral imperative for wiping them out, it doesn’t get any better. For the ideal weapon, I don’t think you can do better than an AR with its bullet size, accuracy, and semiauto action.

    aspenparis, that is reassuring that the material of the Dust Devil bbs is non-toxic, but I don’t see how they can tell what size particles the bb will disintegrate into that will ensure that they don’t float.

    Matt61


  15. Chris
    Agree with you on the new Umarex lever action rifle. Walther eventually dropped the Wells Fargo brass, silver and gloss black versions. Perhaps sales fell short, but I hope they give us a chance at them again with this one. I missed out on the silver one. I think a scope mount will eventually be made by someone however it is a top ejector so a scout set up may be needed.
    I too thought the shell ejecting feature was outstanding at first but thought about the possible damage to them and any surrounding objects, they are not exactly lightweights. I think brass metallic looking ‘plastic’ cartridges would be preferable here.
    I think things that go flying through the air often encounter their anti-matter counterpart and vaporize because they totally disappear sometimes. I have that problem with my RAP4 paintball marker. When converted it uses cases to fire the smaller bb’s, full auto, from the same paintball mag. You come up short all the time when picking them up ..?
    Realism is what we all seek in air gun replicas but I think it’s at odds with practicality in this case. I watched the u-tube video on it. I will be getting one any way. I’ll just shoot it in controlled situations.
    Bob M


    • Bob,

      🙂 “anti-matter”,…. yup, got to be aware of that. I do like it. You will have to be sure to give us a review when you get yours. Heck, if I find I have an extra $200 laying around, I might just cave and get one myself.


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