Hatsan Hercules QE .45 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hatsan Hercules 45
Hatsan Hercules .45 caliber big bore rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Sight-in
  • Trigger pull
  • Sight adjustments
  • Only one bullet
  • First target
  • Second target
  • Air still good
  • Third target
  • Summary

Wow! This report has taken a long time to write. Today we will see the accuracy of the Hatsan Hercules .45 caliber big bore air rifle.

Several things conspired to make this one take so long. The gun gave me a couple problems in the beginning. One (the fill port cover) was due to my not having a manual, but a faulty circular clip caused another one. I have had this rifle out to the range no less than 6 times, but my forgetting to bring the proprietary Hatsan fill probe caused one of the delays. And the Texas winter this year was a hard one that cancelled many range days. However, I finally got the Hercules out for an accuracy test, and today you will see the results.

Sight-in

The Hercules is scoped with the 4-16X56 UTG Bubble Leveler scope, which I believe is the best buy in an airgun scope today. The optics are clear and sharp, and that internal bubble insures the rifle is not canted with every shot. Now that my cataracts are fixed I can see the bubble very clearly, though it is on the dark side.

I was at my gun buddy Otho’s house, because I needed full control of the range. The first shot was fired from about 15 yards and landed low and left on the target. I adjusted the reticle until the shot was in the bull then backed up to 50 yards for the test.

Trigger pull

I did notice this time that the Hercules trigger breaks lighter than I assumed. I equated a big bore with a heavy trigger, but the Hercules trigger is light and crisp. That made it easy to shoot when the crosshairs were dead center in the bull.

Sight adjustments

The clarity of the scope helped me a lot. Initially I had mounted the rifle on a bipod, but as the range where I shot slopes down, it wouldn’t adjust low enough to get on target. So I used a bag rest instead of the bipod. That was perfect and I could really hold this big rifle still for every shot. That’s where I really appreciated the light trigger!

Only one bullet

If you have read parts 1 and 2 you know that the Hercules has only one bullet it can use. It’s a short .45 caliber bullet that weighs 169 grains, which is light for the caliber. They are sized 0.454-inches in diameter, which is not a size that is commonly available. It’s too large for a handgun and too small for a rifle. I was going to try some Cowboy Action Shooting bullets but they are only 0.4525-inches, and that’s too small to be accurate. In a big bore you want a bullet that’s at least bore sized or one-thousandth of an inch larger. So all testing was done with the Hatsan bullets that they call pellets.

First target

After sight-in I topped off the rifle to 250 bar (3,626 psi) and shot this entire test on a single fill. The Hercules’ 1,000 cc air capacity gives you a lot of shots, and as we will see, the better ones are at the lower pressures.

The circular clip holds seven .45-caliber bullets, so each target has 7 shots. I had the rifle hitting inside the bull after sight-in, but, as you will see, the point of impact moves around as the pressure changes.

The first couple shots landed low and to the left. As I continued shooting, though, the rounds walked to the right, toward the bull. Shot 7 was in the X ring! I thought this boded well for the next clip of seven. The group measures 5.023-inches between centers.

Hercules first group
The first group of seven shots at 50 yards measures 5.023-inches between centers.

The onboard air gauge showed plenty of air remaining in the gun. So I reloaded the clip with another 7 bullets and started my second round. That one was informative.

Second target

The first shot hit the target low — almost off the paper. That was surprising since the last shot of the pervious group had gone through the X-ring. But the next three shots climbed higher on the paper and the final three are in the bull. It isn’t as straightforward as I would hope, but the Hercules is becoming more accurate as the reservoir pressure decreases.

This group is too large to measure with my 6-inch dial caliper, but a ruler shows it to be 5-7/8-inches between centers. If we eliminate that first shot, the other six rounds are in 3.946-inches.

Hercules second group
The second group measures approximately 5-7/8-inches between centers, but that’s because of that low first shot. The other 6 shots are in 3.946-inches.

Air still good

I checked the onboard air gauge after this string and the needle was still in the center of the green. Although I have fired 14 shots on the fill, it appeared there were at least 7 more good shots remaining. That’s what a liter of air at 250 bar gets you.

I thought this might be the last clip of bullets I could get on this fill because as the air pressure drops in the reservoir each shot will use what looks like more of it on the gauge. In other words the gauge will now drop faster. As it turned out, I was right about that. But 21 shots on a fill of air is probably the record for a big bore airgun.

Third target

Well target three is the best one, but it’s still a bit strange. The first shot hit below the bull, then the second one hit at 9 o’clock on the bull. After that I could see no rhyme or reason where the shots were going. Some went high and others went low. In the end there were 7 shots 4.746-inches apart.

Hercules third group
Seven shots went into 4.746-inches at 50- yards. There are three below and four up top.

The air gauge needle was now very low in the green. There might have been one or two shots remaining, but not a full 7-shot clip. So, I stopped the test at this point.

I had hoped that this last group would be smaller. It was, but not by that much. I thought there might be a correlation between the fill pressure and the group size, because note how the bullets are now in line with the center of the target. But I have no explanation for the two separate groups — one high and one low. They are both very tight, so it’s exasperating.

Summary

This is my last test of the Hatsan Hercules. I find it to be a very large, heavy air rifle. It also offers more shots than any big bore I have tested to this point in time.

I don’t care for the fill port cover that slides open when the rifle is cocked.  I would rather have a male Foster fitting so the rifle could be fill like most of my other PCPs.

The trigger is lighter and crisper than expected. There is just one bullet or pellet for the rifle, which limits your possibilities. However, with as many shots as it has, it would make a good big bore airgun for fun shooting.

41 thoughts on “Hatsan Hercules QE .45 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 3

  1. B.B.,

    Just a thought, what are the chances of using paper patched Cowboy Action Shooting bullets in the magazine? Do you think they would they work, especially if this had a single shot tray?

    Siraniko


    • Siraniko,

      Paper -patched CAS bullets? That’s like a Corvette with a Ferguson plow hitch. Paper-patched bullets are long and smooth for target rifles. CAS bullets are short and light for close shooting with no recoil.

      You have blown my mind this morning! 😉

      B.B.




          • B.B.,

            Had to go back to Part 1 to appreciate the size of the bullets. I agree, they are very short which might be the reason for seeing such a large target group size. Might need a faster twist rate to help stabilize it. They went to that low weight for a reason, probably so that they could get a balance of velocity and shot count. Is it safe to assume that the Hatsan was rifles with a standard 1:16 rate? What is the standard twist rate for a .25 caliber pellet?

            Siraniko


            • Siraniko,

              Short bullets need a slower twist to stabilize. It’s the long ones that need the faster twist.

              The standard twist of most caliber of pellet gun is 1:16, though I see that manufacturers are starting to experiment.

              That last target tells me this rifle can be accurate, but something is happening to prevent it. What it might be I have no idea.

              B.B.




  2. B.B.,

    I have watched many, perhaps all, of Mr. Hollowpoint’s videos with delight. No one knows how to kill a block of concrete or ice like him. Some of the air long guns (not sure they’re all rifled) he shoots generate well over 1000 fpe. When he shoots one, the kick sends his shoulder back a good eight or so inches.

    I’m curious, how much recoil does this 250 fpe. rifle have? A .25 Condor? I guess I’m also curious what power does an air rifle begin to generate significant recoil.

    Michael


    • Michael,

      The recoil is very light. Maybe more than the Condor, but not much.

      Recoil is always a power-to-weight ratio. The Hercules weighs close to 15 lbs. with the scope, so it doesn’t move easily. If it weighed 7 lbs. the recoil would be greater.

      B.B.


  3. B.B.,

    Well, it looks like they have a bit of work left to do. I find the offering of 6 caliber offerings in 1 model to be astounding (.177-.45). I really like that bottle shoulder stock piece. A nice solution. I do not care for the looks a whole lot and I am not a fan of heavy. I do like Hatsan’s drive to innovate.

    A chrony for each shot may shed some light, but maybe not. Or, something is coming loose. Variances in bullet weight and size may be another. Who knows? Could be many things.

    At any rate,… nice test. Onwards to the next air gun!

    Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris


  4. BB,

    You are being quite generous with your last statement, most especially when your best group at fifty yards is almost five inches. Also, unless you have a sizing die and/or a casting rig, you are very limited in your choice of ammo. Personally I think this is a prime example of marketing pushing design. This air rifle may work better in the other caliber offerings, but it certainly was not ready to be sold in this caliber. This is what can give your company a bad reputation. Hatsan had come a long way to improve their standing in the market, but to rush this out so that they can have a big bore can cause them trouble for years. Crosman is still having issues because of the backlash from what they did to the Rogue.



    • RidgeRunner,

      And all you hunters on the blog

      Completely agree that B.B. used a “soft” touch in his summary and potential uses of the Hatsan .45 Big Bore.
      If it was my rifle I would: install a proven scope/ring(s), check everything and anything for play, then remove the barrel shroud, next check the barrel from leade to crown. Having only one bullet available really is awful; almost as bad as having to look for a good .308 slug for my DAQ knowing that there will never ever be time enough to test them all.
      In part one I looked hard at the two bottle arrangement and wondered knowing how pressure vessels change shape with varying PSI. The rear bottle-stock didn’t bother me as much (because of the Air Force success with that arrangement) as the the front bottle which looked like it might be in contact with the “Shnabel” effecting POI even with a “free-floated” barrel. I also remembered the inaccuracy problem (similar to what B.B. experienced) a friend had with a Crosman 2200W which he asked help with; turned out he didn’t own a screwdriver long and thin enough to tighten the stock properly. I just wonder if that rear bottle-stock installation is not the culprit.
      The repeater is a crutch in a hunting rifle. If a hunter needs more than one shot very often to put down pretty they need to practice their shooting basics along with speed drills for loading that follow-up shot every time they shoot…instead of celebration dances in the middle of a hunt. I hope for the sake of the prey out there that Hatsan finds the right solution to this issue.

      I need to get off my soapbox now!
      I’m just glad I’ll likely never have a urge to own a Hatsan .454!

      shootski



      • Shootski,

        The barrel and shroud on this air rifle are completely free floating, so tank expansion, etc. will have no effect. Now if the barrel is loose, that could certainly cause an issue. If the projectile is clipping the shroud or baffles that too will cause big problems. The rifling twist rate can be a major issue with accuracy with big bores.

        Another issue that is an ammo limiting factor is this is magazine fed. Longer projectiles cannot be used because of this. I have a similar issue with my HM1000X. The magazine limits the size of the projectile, however my air rifle is designed to allow easy feeding of larger projectiles by hand. This Hatsan is not. Perhaps it could be modified, but I doubt it.



  5. B.B.,

    In part 2 of this report, which shows the loaded magazine, the base of the bullets do not appear to be very uniform. This particular bullet also appears to be designed for a gas check and could be tipping as it exits the muzzle. I believe that the lack of accuracy is not due to the rifle but the cast projectile. Would it be possible to try it with a swaged .45 caliber roundball? I don’t believe that the results could be much worse.

    Bugbuster



  6. A little off topic, but something that’s been on my mind:
    Is there any reason not to use “airgun” scopes on regular firearms? That Bugbuster bubble-level scope in particular seems like it would work well in a variety of circumstances.


    • Rocketsci,

      Since airguns (spring piston guns) are harder on scopes than any centerfire rifle including the .50 BMG, there is no reason not to use an airgun scope on a firearm.

      The Bug Buster doesn’t have a bubble. That’s the Bubble Leveler, and it is perfect for a firearm.

      B.B.


      • Oops! Thank you for the correction.

        Still, this begs the question of why these scopes are not more broadly used outside of the airgun community. I’m not thinking about UTG competing against the likes of Nightforce or Swarovski, I realize that at the high end, ekeing out a marginal level of improvement requires an exponentially greater level of cost.

        I’m just wondering why UTG or Hawke is not more competitive low-middle range of more traditional firearm optics, with the likes of Redfield etc. Does it all just boil down to parochialism?


  7. B.B.
    When I saw the pellet size was .454, my first thought was .454 black powder revolver round balls. Probably wouldn’t be as accurate though. But if a guy owned one of these, it’s worth a shot.

    Doc



    • B.B.

      That’s great news! I can hardly wait to see the solution. Thanks for searching this out. I could not find anything online in my searches and so far no one else has come up with a solution either.

      Geo


  8. Not exactly a tack driver. But the targets remind me that I’ve done a bit of research on the shooting course for biathlons. They shoot at 50 yards, and the target is a metal plate that you either hit or you don’t. In prone, the plate is a little over one inch which is about the size of the 10 ring on the 50 yard NRA target. For standing, the target is about 4 inches or roughly the size of the bull on the same target. So, in trying to hold the black on the 50 yard target, I’m like a biathlon shooter. But I’m not shooting after hard skiing, and I don’t plan to try. Most sports are supposed to build you up. Some cross the line to breaking you down over time. An example is boxing which gets you in great shape but is guaranteed to cause brain damage if you do it for any length of time. Apparently gymnastics breaks you down too. But I don’t know of any sport that is unhealthy in concept like the biathlon. Elevating your heart rate with the single most aerobically demanding sport in existence and then trying to slow your heart instantly to shoot, sounds terrible. I’ll skip that, but it’s fun to imitate the marksmanship.

    Also, I’ve found that crossbow bolts are approximately 300 gr. If they move at 350fps that is 81.6 foot-pounds of energy which is a healthy wallop.

    And I want to pass on some fascinating information from blog reader Derrick that one of the finest cutting blade designs is the Wharncliffe. I’ve never heard of this before, but it is almost a dead ringer for the sheepsfoot blade designed to be especially safe as well as the seax knife of the medieval period which gave its name to the Anglo-Saxons. That design had to be effective to find favor with such a violent group of people, but how it worked has always puzzled me. Anyway, I plan to investigate by getting one of these designs for myself.

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      Interesting that you have concluded that, ‘…Biathlon is unhealthy in concept…’ since somehow you have been led to believe that one must, ‘…try to slow your heartbeat rate instantly to shoot…’ What actually occurs is you need to race tactically. You must decide how best to enter the range to get the best results in skiing time and shooting pulse rate.. You must allow your heart rate to recover as much as possible within the last 1/4 kilometer or so (which happens in a shorter period of time and steeper drop off the more fit you are.) Once on the line at the range you time your shot letoff to occur between pulse/heartbeats. Not stop/slow your heartbeat! Breath control is still much the same as in regular target shooting and trigger squeeze is still governed by the aquisition system used; either static as most of you are familiar with or dynamic which is practiced by some of the top shooters in all the shooting sports.

      Masters Biathletes and Nordic/Cross Country skiers in general are some of the healthiest well into their old age of any athletes and non-athletic folks. I have skied with folks 20+ years my senior (I’m 69) who have the physical fitness most 45 year olds can only hope for. The only other sport that seems to have a similar “Fountain of Youth” effect is swimming; especially open water swimming which gets away from the toxic atmosphere in most indoor natatoriums.

      Shoot Clean!

      ⚫⚫⚫⚫⚫ Heartbeat-Heartbeat Bang, Heartbeat-Heartbeat Bang, Heartbeat-Heartbeat Bang, Heartbeat- Heartbeat Bang, Heartbeat-Heartbeat Bang ⚪⚪⚪⚪⚪ Go Ski FAST!

      shootski


  9. New Topic: Daisy 177 Pistol Mtce:
    A friend asked me to service his ~unused ~37 yr old Daisy 177 air pistol. After seeing nothing wrong, and moderate lube applied, it shoots NO air out. Further, the internal plunger appears to BLOCK BBs from feeding normally, and IF fed into the shot tube by hand, they are forced OUT of position by reinstalling the shot tube! I then opened up the guts (removed rivot) and SEE nothing wrong. What the heck? TWO issues… COULD the plunger tube be too long from the factory? As for no air flow, maybe it is just so weak a pistol I can’t detect it. I know: `115 fps on average. CHRIS USA: you’ve posted some info in the past on this: any ideas??


    • Barrika,

      It sounds to me like the plunger is broken off — a common problem with Daisy plungers. They break as their base where the air hole makes them too thin to take the beating they get from hitting the BB and also from stopping suddenly. I have had several 25s with that problem.

      B.B.


      • Sadly, no: when I opened up the action, the spring, plunger, seal, all looked FINE. Also ,the plunger assembly resemblance to the Daisy Buck 105b was unmistakeable, and I serviced 108 of those last summer for the local Boy Scout district. After all mtce, THOSE Daisy rifles are performing well (((despite the abuse they get in the hands of those very excited Cub Scouts! 🙂 )))


    • Barrika,

      You might have me confused with some one else. The link that I have sometimes posted in the past is below and these guys know about anything that you would want to know on the small lever actions. They do heavy modding and custom stuff. Old and new. This is that link, but the site has a lot and there may be something more specific on Daisy .177 pistols. B.B.’s comment sounds like maybe that is a sure bet though.

      https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/putting-a-little-more-power-in-a-15-00-daisy.807316/page-9

      Hope some of that helps. I am the one that put a Red Ryder spring in a 499,… and love it by the way!


      • I guess it’s POSSIBLE (wrong plunger), but from what I heard from an experienced OLD Daisy repair guy (jgairguns), there was only 1 size plunger made. He could be wrong though. My next step then if nothing else turns up is to even MORE carefully measure the inner workings (IE req’d plunger length) and cut it back a bit, maybe multiple times (trial & error, to keep from cutting too SHORT). I might also try to bore out the plunger. I did that with my old Buck 105B and got 51% more velocity 2 years ago… The drilling WAS tricky though. BTW: the Buck cylinder is larger than the Daisy: NOT interchangeable! The actual plunger tube is the same OD, but really shorter on the D-177.


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