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Education / Training Beeman R9 with Vortek center-latching air piston: Part 2

Beeman R9 with Vortek center-latching air piston: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Today’s fill
  • JSB Exact
  • Predator Polymag
  • H&N Field Target Trophy
  • H&N Baracuda
  • Crosman Premiers
  • Benjamin Cylindricals
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Firing behavior
  • Summary

Today is velocity day for the Beeman R9 with the Vortek center-latching gas piston that I’m calling the center latching unit (CLU). Bear in mind as you read today’s test, that this unit allows the owner to adjust the pressure inside the gas piston — raising or lowering the velocity and cocking effort. So, this is the first of several tests of the unit.

Today’s fill

I filled the CLU to 675 psi when I installed it. So that’s how it’s set up today. I will test it with 6 different .20 caliber pellets — one more than Pyramyd AIR carries, if you don’t count the felt Beeman cleaning pellets. Let’s get started.

JSB Exact

First to be tested were the 13.73-grain JSB Exact domes. They averaged 689 f.p.s. on this setting. That’s 14.48 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The velocity spread for 10 shots went from a low of 678 to a high of 699 f.p.s. That’s 21 f.p.s. I’m not going to say anything more about this or any other pellet, because we will be looking at the rifle tuned hotter and milder as this report progresses.

Predator Polymag

Next up were Predator Polymag hollowpoints. The website calls them pointed pellets, but the plastic point sits inside the hollow point and comes off on contact. They weigh 13 grains and averaged 672 f.p.s. in the R9 with the CLU tuned for today. That’s 13.04 foot pounds at the muzzle. The spread went from a low of 662 to 678 f.p.s. That’s 16 f.p.s.

H&N Field Target Trophy

The H&N Field Target Trophy pellet is the one Tom Gore of Vortek recommended to me for .20 caliber airguns. He likes it a lot. At 11.42 grains it is the lightest pellet being tested.

In the R9 the way it is set up today the FTT averaged 763 f.p.s. That produces 14.77 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. The spread went from a low of 758 to a high of 767 f.p.s. That’s just 9 f.p.s.

H&N Baracuda

In .20 caliber H&N Baracuda are not heavyweights. They weigh just 13.58 grains.

In the R9 the way it is set up today Baracudas averaged 676 f.p.s. At that velocity they produce 13.78 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. The spread went from 669 to 678 f.p.s. That’s another pellet with just 9 f.p.s. spread.

Crosman Premiers

This is a pellet you can’t get anymore. I have some set aside, and, since I don’t shoot a lot of .20 caliber, they will probably last.

Premiers weigh 14.3 grains, and in the .20 caliber range of pellets that I’m testing today they are one of the two heaviest ones. They averaged 662 f.p.s., which generates 13.92 foot pounds. The spread was 654 to 669 f.p.s., which is 15 f.p.s.

Benjamin Cylindricals

The last pellets I tested were Benjamin Cylindrical pellets. These are not the same as Premiers. They have less of a waist and are more — well, cylindrical!

These 14.3-grain pellets fit the R9 breech from extremely loose to snug, indicating a range of sizes. They also were all over the place on velocity. The average was 642 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 13.09 foot pounds. But the spread went from a low of 620 to a high of 666 f.p.s. That’s a whopping 46 f.p.s. I’m betting these will not be accurate in this rifle.

Cocking effort

The R9 cocks smoothly with 36 lbs. of effort. The barrel detent latch is stiff because this rifle is essentially brand new. That will change as it breaks in.

Trigger pull

The Rekord trigger has not been adjusted. I noticed that when I installed the CLU. You can tell because it’s full of Weihrauch yellow grease. I might do something about that when I do the next tune.

Currently it fires with 2 lbs. 2oz. pressure. That’s not much, but stage 2 has some detectible creep that I want to eliminate.

Firing behavior

Vortek told me how smooth this unit made the R9, but smooth is something you have to experience. Often a gun will be smooth until the piston stops. Then you get a sharp jolt. But the CLU isn’t acting that way. The whole shot cycle is smooth. I will know more when I shoot the rifle for accuracy, because that’s when it really stands out, but I did shoulder and fire it several times in this test — just to know.


Well the test is proceeding smoothly thus far. Next I will disassemble the rifle and tune the CLU down for the lightest cocking effort. Stay tuned!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

41 thoughts on “Beeman R9 with Vortek center-latching air piston: Part 2”

  1. B.B.

    Wow, those are pretty consistent numbers. I guess we will have to see if a 675psi fill of the CLU is much different than a 650psi or 700 psi fill. If it was filled to only 500psi would the pellet even leave the barrel. I guess what I am trying to ask is the power level of the CLU linear or more steeply angled?
    I assume that the same set up in .22 would give similar FPE numbers? Is the shot cycle as smooth as your face after a single edge razor shave?
    Does the piston have much preload? Can hardly wait for part 3.


    • BB,

      Man, these adjustable power guns will really suck you in if you can’t show discipline, which I can’t, apparently. I set out today to shoot 30 yard and 50 yard groups with one of my Urbans, set back to its factory setting, but after the 30 yard tests I couldn’t stop myself from tryin’ this pellet and that pellet at this higher setting and then had to go lower to check out how this pellet shot compared to the higher velocity and on and on. How do you resist shooting groups while you have the gun set up this way? Will this report primarily be chronicling the velocity changes, cocking effort and firing characteristics with different charges on the gas piston or will there be some sort of accuracy comparison as well?


  2. Thanks B.B. always great reporting.

    I imagine many have made target stands. Thought I’d share mine.

    The base is 1 1/4 PVC.
    The uprights are 1×2 firring strips that fit into 1 1/2 PVC (the up legs use an adapter to 1 1/2.
    The firring strips are easy to change out and a 2×3 cut with an angle on top allows for a small pitched roof to keep rain off paper targets.

    Vinyl poster board is suspended from screw in hooks by left over elastic tarp ties.

    If the roof makes too much shadow I’ll change it to a clear product.

    A level is hung on the side to keep targets vertical. They can be taped or tacked.

    I bought a sheet of the poster board that will make quite a few. I plan to make at least a couple more to set at different ranges. A cross piece can easily be added for spinners etc.

    • Idaho

      Looks good. I assume that you just pull the wooden strips out of the pcv to make it easy to store or transport? Since you are only concerned about your target getting wet you must have a covered shooting station up your sleeve somewhere. Must be nice. 😉


      • The strips fit snug but pull out with a firm tug, helps for leveling where the ground slopes. Also I did not glue the PVC. A firm press and its plenty sturdy but will come apart easy.
        Where it sits now is a covered back patio about 12 x 20 so yes we can stay dry and its about 55 yards to the treed area.
        I see most using a cardboard backer. Since we have a covered area I thought it worth making something rain proof.

  3. BB,

    This is already on the top of my very, very short list and I do not even own an HW95. Yet. I would also like to pick up an adjustable gas spring for my Hatsan/Webley Tomahawk.

    What is the outside diameter of the CLU?

  4. BB,

    This design is about to cause a not so small revolution in the airgun industry. This one model is going to keep Vortek and Weihrauch very busy for quite some time trying to keep up with demand. I will expect the sale of spring compressors will skyrocket also. Once Vortek develops other models, they will either have to expand their manufacturing or contract them out.

    All of the major airgun manufacturers will be clamoring for licensing. Vortek’s patent attorneys will likely be very busy. I do believe we are on the edge of another major advancement in sproingers.

  5. BB,

    I noticed that you stated that the CLU does not have a sudden jolt at the end of the firing cycle. I know that is what Crosman was attempting to achieve with their NP2 system. Pehaps Vortek has installed the rubberbabybuggybumper inside.

  6. B.B.

    My .177 R9 had one little rough spot in stage 2 of the trigger pull . Right in the MIDDLE of it .
    Turned out to be a small pit in the guide that the second stage bump in the trigger was hitting .
    Some polishing of the guide with a very fine polishing stone took care of it . A bit of moly was smeared on . Problem fixed .
    A note …. getting the spring back in the record is tough when getting it back together .


  7. It was a good day at the ranch today. The Urban dispatched (4) starlings and (1) male house sparrow at 35 yards. That’s one sparrow that won’t be harassing my bluebirds 🙂 So far that’s (7) starling hits, no misses.

    • Geo,

      Glad you finally got that 35 yard shot you wanted. I guess you chose the right gun then. I don’t think you would have been happy with the stormrider even though it is also very compact. The Urban is quieter and just more gun for the money. Any chance you could whip up a starling pie and tell us how it tastes? 😉


      • Sorry, I put the starlings out in the field for the crows to feast on.

        Yes, I am extremely happy with my Urban. I have a question for you though. How does one get an accurate measurement of the distance the scope is above the centerline of the bore? Did you measure your scope’s dimension above the barrel C/L? I measured mine to be 1.9″ with those BKL offset mounts.
        The dimension effects the holdover and holdunder in the Chairgun program.

        • Geo,

          I have used straight edges to extend planes, rulers and calipers. Do what you have to do. I believe what you are seeking is (scope center) to (bore center), not scope center to scope. Take some measurements, do some simple math and that ought to be more than good enough for Chairgun,… which is just a pretty accurate estimation anyways.

          • Yes, scope center to bore center. When I get a chance I will do as suggested. Shoot some groups at 10 yards, 20 yards, 25 yards, 30 yards, etc. and then see what the actual holdover and holdunder comes out.

            • Geo,

              Yup,.. got to shoot to know for sure. Make a cheat sheet and you are done. I saw the latest Starling tally above! 🙂 I am super happy that you have got something now that is doing exactly what you were after.

              • Chris,

                Thanks, you were the first person to recommend that I try a pcp back last summer when I wasn’t able to shoot my Diana 34 accurately. The Urban has renewed my confidence and confirmed that I am still a decent shot. I was always a good shot when I was young and hunted all the time but I haven’t shot any of my firearms in over 30 years. I don’t know why I even keep them. When I got married my wife would not eat wild game. My old beagle mix rabbit dog of 18 years passed and I gave up hunting all together. I need room in my gun cabinet for airguns now.

      • Oh, and another question. The other day you posted your velocity results with various pellets at 31 yards and 50 yards. From you chart it would appear the the H&N FTT pellets gave the best groups. You noted the head size as 5.57mm. It that correct, or should it be 5.55mm? I think that most brands of pellet measure 5.49 to 5.51mm head size and I know that H&N advertises several different head sizes.

        When you measured the velocity of Urban #1 with the 18.13g pellet, the results were an average of
        755 fps, and with #2 the average was 788 fps. Do you thinks that the cut bolt O-ring affected the velocity on Urban #1? Both of your Urbans exceeded the velocity that Steve Scialli at AEAC found in his review. His Urban’s velocity with the JSB 18.13g was 730 fps. That review was in April 2017 so maybe Gamo is setting them up a bit hotter?

        • Geo,

          That was the actual measurement that I got with my Pelletgage. I remeasured on a different day and got 5.56mm on the sample that I selected. and I measured once since then and got 5.56mm so I will amend that to 5.56 at some point when I have time. I will add that I measured 1 tin each of the different sized FFTs that are available and 5.56mm is what the vast majority of them measured. I think the “hand sorted sizes” are marketing hype myself, based on my findings.

          I don’t think the bad oring affected the velocity much. I replaced it before I did my hammer spring testing and at 10 turns, which is right around the factory settings for both guns, Gun1 shot about 50 fps slower than Gun2.

          I don’t use the brand of chronograph that he does, atmospheric conditions matter, we know there is a 50 fps difference, with one pellet, at least, between my 2 guns, he may be filling to a different pressure ,either on purpose or because the gauges are different or who knows what other variables might come into play. Or they could be making them hotter. I don’t remember if BB chronographed them or not. I’ll watch out for other results on the web going forward.


          • Is it possible that the 50 fps between the two Urbans could be a result of the two hammer springs being slightly different? How many turns on gun #1 would it take to make it equal to gun #2?

  8. Geo,

    I think I could eyeball the center of the scope well enough to get a measure down to the top of the barrel. Then I would add half the diameter of the barrel Outside Diameter. That’s how I would do it, anyway. I wouldn’t think being off the amount you’d be by eyeballin’ would effect things much.

    I’m going to be posting a couple of mods I did to my Urban over on part 4 in a few minutes.


  9. Once again Rick Willnecker at Precision Pellet comes through my 101 is now shooting back to new specs of 479.1 with 5 pumps and 640.9 with 8 pumps using 14.3 Crosman Premiers. It’s very windy here today so no groups but I’m very excited to get this gun back it reminds me of a Winchester lever gun in the hand very light and handy. Just the opposite of my chunky 392. I highly recommend Rick for your vintage or even not so vintage airgun repairs very reasonable, very quick, and very knowledgeable.

  10. George,
    If you are still looking for distance of “scope height”, search the net for aluminum foil and scope height. Very easy method. Extremely precise. It gives you the desired distance between the sight line and muzzle center.

    • Jumpin,

      Thank you. I did a google search and found the site showing this method of calculating the scope height. I will try it when I get a chance and see how it compares with my measured distance.

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