by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

B3
The B3 underlever from China.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Superdomes
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Firing behavior
  • RWS Meisterkugeln
  • Qiang Yuan Training pellets
  • Trigger
  • Summary

This is accuracy day! Today we will learn how accurate my new/old Chinese B3 underlever spring-piston air rifle is. This is the rifle with the replaced breech seal that we learned in Part 3 is such an easy fix. Today we see whether it matters.

The test

I shot at 10 meters off a sandbag rest. I used the classic artillery hold with the off hand next to the front of the triggerguard and rested on the sandbag.

I resolved to shoot just 5 shots, unless the pellet looked like it might group. If it did I would go to 10 shots.

RWS Superdomes

First up was the RWS Superdome. The first shot hit the target at the lower edge of the bull, but shot two hit above the 10-ring. I shot the next three shots and then looked at the group and decided this is not the right pellet for this rifle. The 5-shot group later measured 1.37-inches between centers.

RWS Superdome group
The B3 put 5 RWS Superdomes into 1.37-inches at 10 meters.

No sense going any farther with Superdomes. Oh, well! I have never had any luck with Chinese springers. I will say that the rear sight was easiere to use than I thought it wouuld be — being that close to my eye.

My next Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet hit very low, so I adjusted the rear sight up quite a bit. Even then it didn’t raise the point of impact up to the aim point.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Now I shot 5 Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets. These hit on the white paper below the bull, so I saw the first hole, but when I fired shot two I couldn’t see where it hit. I looked through my spotting scope and there was no other hole. Oh, well! Shot number 3 opened the first hole slightly, leading me to suspect I might have a shooter and also I might have just paired it with the best pellet. Two more shots confirmed my suspicions.

I looked at the group through the spotting scope and it looked so good that I went down and photographed it. I don’t know precisely how large it was, but a dime would easily cover it! It’s maybe a quarter-inch between centers. What irony that the B3 does best with pellets that cost more per tin than the rifle!

Sig Maqtch Ballistic Alloy 5 shots
Just a quick pic to show what the first 5 shots did at 10 meters.

I then went back and fired 5 more shots into the same group. The 10 shots landed in a group that measures 0.577-inches between centers at 10 meters. I know that isn’t the best group I have ever fired, but with a cheap Chinese springer, it feels like Olympic gold!

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy group[
Ten Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets from the B3 made this 0.577-inch group at 10 meters.

Firing behavior

This B3 fires quick. There is no vibration after the shot, but the piston stops with a big jolt, which is a lot of vibration packed into a millisecond. If I tune the rifle I will see what can be done to reduce that jolt.

RWS Meisterkugeln

Next I tried 5 RWS Meisterkugeln pellets. After seeing the success with the Sig pellets, I was hoping for another miracle. I nearly got it when 9 pellets went into 0.657-inches at 10 meters, but shot 10 opened the group to 1.344-inches. Still, this is a pellet worth further testing.

RWS Meisterkugeln group
Ten RWS Meisterkugeln went into 1.344-inches at 10 meters, with 9 in 0.657-inches.

And, just to keep the record straight, I did shoot 5 pellet first and evaluate the group before finishing it.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets

The last pellet I tested was the Chinese Qiang Yuan Training pellet that has proven to be such a superior pellet over the last year. They aren’t cheap, at $10 for a tin of 500; but they aren’t that expensive, either. They hold their own with other world-class target pellets costing much more and are always worth trying in a new airgun.

In the B3 they did okay, but nothing spectacular. The first 5 went into a horizontal line that was 0.624-inches. I could measure that one because it was still there at the end of the shooting. Ten made a group measuring 0.978-inches between centers. That’s okay, but in light of the other two pellets that did better, it’s not good enough.

Qiang Yuan Training group
Ten Qiang Yuan Training pellets made this 0.978-inch group at 10 meters.

Trigger

The B3 trigger is single stage, but crisp and reasonably light. I can use it as it is. And that’s a good thing, because these triggers are not easy to improve. Their parts are case-hardened, with shells that are often thin and don’t stand up to stoning well.

Summary

I am surprised by the accuracy of this rifle. In all my years with airguns and having seen and shot many Chinese underlever and sidelever springers, this is the first one I would call reasonably accurate. I once put a Lothar Walther barrel on a TS-45 and made it into an accurate rifle, but this is the first time I have seen a Chinese barrel stand up on its own.

So I will take this rifle apart and see what can be done to make it shoot smoother. At least when I’m done I know I’ll have a decent airgun, if not a world-beater. What more can you ask of a $30 air rifle?