The TexanSS: Part 4
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The test
- Tin Starr 210-grain semiwadcutter
- Tin Starr 310 grain flat point
- Hunter’s Supply 250-grain hollowpoint
- Something different
- Hollow base first
- Hollowpoint first
- Last bullet — the flying dumbbell
- What’s next?
Today I will shoot the AirForce TexanSS at 50 yards for accuracy. In Part 3 we learned about the bullet tuner on the left side of the rifle. We saw that the .45 caliber Texan SS has a narrower range of adjustment than the .45 Texan I tested for you several years ago. The results of that test set us up for today’s accuracy test.
I scoped the rifle with the 4-16X56 UTG Bubble Leveler scope. The scope sits high above the bore line of the rifle, but the bubble level inside guarantees the rifle will not be canted when it fires.
I first sighted-in at 20 yards. I used the first bullet that I planned testing, and didn’t change the scope setting for the rest of the test. It took 5 shots at this distance to get the bullet where I wanted it — in the center of the bull.
I will be shooting 5-shot groups with 5 different bullets — one of them two times for a reason I will explain when we get to it. Because of that, I left the bullet tuner set just slightly above the 3/4 mark for the entire test. If any bullet or bullets show promise, I can always refine the setting just for them, but that will have to come on another day.
I shot off the MOA shooting bench that I bought at the SHOT Show. The more I use this bench the more I like it. The rifle was rested on a long sandbag that made it steady for each shot.
The wind was blowing 5-7 mph during the test, with gusts to 20 mph. I waited until the gusts died down for each shot. These were the same conditions under which the Hatsan Hercules .45 caliber big bore air rifle was tested a week ago. Let’s get started.
Tin Starr 210-grain semiwadcutter
The first bullet tested was the 210-grain semi-wadcutter from Tin Starr bullets that tested best with the Texan. Though the SS barrel is shorter, I think the rifling twist is the same as is found in the Texan barrel, and this is a bullet of known accuracy.
From the velocity test we just did, I knew there were 3 shots that were close in velocity were possible, so I shot 3 times then refilled the rifle for the last two bullets. Five bullets made a vertical group measuring 2.232-inches between centers. Three of those bullets landed in 0.535-inches, and they are between the other two shots. That tells me this bullet is very accurate in the SS, though I probably need to tweak the bullet tuner a little.
The group set me at ease, because no matter what else happened, I now had a good bullet for the SS. That bullet would be good for game up to whitetail deer-size. I’m limiting it to those animals weighing 150 lbs. and at a distance of less than 150 yards. A semi-wadcutter bullet slows down in flight faster than a round-nose bullet.
A big bore bullet kills game through loss of blood — not shock. The foot pounds of energy on target don’t make much difference, as long as they are sufficient for the bullet to penetrate the game. This bullet will go completely through a whitetail deer that’s hit sideways in a classic heart/lung shot up to 100 yards, as long as a major bone is not hit. It will break a shoulder bone.
Tin Starr 310 grain flat point
Next up was the Tin Starr 310-grain flat point bullet. This one is much heavier for greater penetration. This would be a bullet to use on mule deer or even the larger red deer that are called Hirsch in Germany. Of course it goes slower than the previous bullet, so let’s see where it hits the target with the same scope setting.
This bullet impacted about 2 inches below the first one. It was still centered on the bull, though. That’s a good thing, because it means you can have two good bullets for distances under 100 yards. I shot three bullets on the fill, then refilled and shot the last two.
Five bullets made a 1.681-inch group at 50 yards. That’s plenty good for hunting out to 100 yards, though with this bullet you will need to see where it lands at that distance. Remember, this test is a 50 yards.
Hunter’s Supply 250-grain hollowpoint
Next I tried a 250-grain hollowpoint bullet that was provided to me by AirForce. This is a bullet they recommend for their Texan and TexanSS. Five went into 2.48 inches at 50 yards, and the group is still fairly well-centered in and around the bull. Once again, I shot three bullets, then refilled for the last two.
Now let’s leave the world of conventional bullets and look at two experiments that were conducted by Tin Starr Bullets. The first is a design that was suggested by AirForce. Nobody knew how it would turn out, which is why we test. This may be the first time this experimental big bore bullet has been seen, and without a doubt it is the first time it’s been tested in the TexanSS.
The bullet is a deep hollow-base or hollowpoint configuration, depending on how it’s loaded. This is the bullet I alluded to at the start of the test. I tested it both ways, and in a moment we will see how that went.
The bullet is extremely light — 137 grains. Even a .45 caliber round ball weighs 143 grains, so you know that this one is very light!
Tin Starr made a prototype mold to cast this bullet for a proof-of-concept test. It wasn’t made on a production mold that would cost much more to make. However, if there is any merit, it should be evident with the test bullets. Then they can decide to invest in a production mold.
Finally — and this holds true for every Tin Starr bullet seen in this report — these bullets are made from lead that is as pure as can be. Pure lead is very soft and takes the rifling easily with low friction. But it doesn’t cast well. Add tin or antimony to get bullets that fill the mold better and look both sharper and cleaner. Tin costs many times what lead costs, so that’s out. Antimony hardens the lead alloy too much. Bullets cast with it may look better but they shoot worse, until you get the velocity up over 1,500 f.p.s., which no big bore air rifle can do. Hard lead bullets also smear inside of the bore, causing early leading.
Hollow base first
The first target was shot with the hollow positioned at the base. Two were fired on a fill, then the rifle was refilled and the last three were fired. They landed in a group that measures 3.818-inches between centers. Even though this group is larger, they are still centered on the bull.
One thing I did not notice until writing this report is that three of the five bullets tumbled in flight! The hole at the extreme right shows the side profile of a bullet. The highest hole looks like two bullets went through, so the bullet was tipped on an angle, and the one in the X-ring is nearly sideways.
Next I loaded five of the same bullet with the hollow point first. These made a group measuring 4.095-inches between centers. This group also drifted a little to the right at 50 yards. Of all the bullets shot, it was the only one that went sideways a little. I shot all 5 rounds on a single fill of air, because they are so lightweight. If they had proven accurate, more testing with different parameters would have been indicated.
I recommended to Tin Starr that this bullet is a no-go for the TexanSS. Given the results we have already seen, this bullet adds nothing.
Last bullet — the flying dumbbell
The last bullet I tested this day is one I call the flying dumbbell. It is based on the 1960s French shotgun slug called the Balle Blondeau, and over the last 20 years I have never seen it fail to deliver astounding accuracy in air rifles. Even smoothbores can shoot this shape accurately for short distances of under 50 yards. I recommended to Tin Starr that they prototype this shape in a lightweight bullet for the TexanSS.
Once again they made a prototype mold for this proof-of-concept test. And the 182-grain cast slug is pure lead, so we have another rough-looking bullet. However, handsome is as handsome does!
Again I shot all 5 shots on a single fill of air. Five flying dumbbells went into a group measuring 1.072-inches at 50 yards, with 4 of them in 0.573-inches. This is the most accurate bullet of this test by a significant margin!
I will say that Johnny Hill of Tin Starr Bullets that’s part of the Weatherford Pawn Shop (817-594-8511), thinks the flying dumbbell may not be accurate for longer distances. I will have to test that. I know that many years ago Gary Barnes shot three similar bullets into less than 2 inches at 200 yards with one of his big bores, so I think the design might hold up. Also, if you order some of these they will be rough like what you see here. It takes time and a lot of money to create a custom mold for a high-speed commercial casting machine.
Now that we know which bullets to work with (the 210-gr. SWC, the 310-gr. flat point and the prototype flying dumbbell), the next step is to do some tuner adjusting on the rifle to see if we can improve these results. Based on this test the TexanSS deserves a test at 100 yards. And I have every intention of doing one.
As you can see, the .45 caliber TexanSS is another barn-burner! It’s what you expect from an AirForce big bore. This is a 400+ foot-pound air rifle that’s quieter than a .22 Short and as accurate as anyone could hope for. It has a delightful trigger and conserves air, plus that tuner allows you to use the full range of 0.457 and 0.458 lead bullets.