Beeman R9 with Vortek center-latching air piston: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Adjust the pressure
  • Filling
  • R9 disassembly and assembly
  • JSB Exact
  • Predator Polymag
  • H&N Field Target Trophy
  • H&N Baracuda
  • Crosman Premier
  • Benjamin Cylindrical
  • Discussion
  • Trigger
  • Cocking effort
  • Evaluation

Today we look at adjusting the Vortek Center Latching Air Piston, which I refer to as the center-latching unit (CLU). It went faster and easier than I imagined.

Adjust the pressure

To adjust the air pressure in the unit I had to disassemble the Beeman R9, to get the unit out. That procedure is described in Part 1. Once the unit is out, the piston seal has to be removed to reveal the air port.

Beeman R9 CLU port
Looking down into the fill port of the CLU we can see the ball valve.

To adjust the pressure in the CLU, first release all the air. That way you start from zero. The unit fills very fast from a hand pump and this is the best way to ensure accuracy.

The air is released by pressing against the ball valve with something small — I used an Allen wrench about 1/16-inch in diameter. Tap it with a hammer a couple times and then you can just push to release the rest of the air. There isn’t much!

Beeman R9 releasing pressure
Pressing against the ball valve releases the air pressure.

When the air is out, attach the fill adaptor and connect it to a high pressure hand pump. The o-rings on the adaptor Vortek sent me are not to seal air. They are there in place of knurling. That adaptor was made up fast and they didn’t want to change the tooling in their machine to cut knurling. The o-rings are just for grip.

Beeman R9 adaptor
Attach the adaptor to the CLU for filling. The o-rings are just for grip.

Filling

I filled the CLU and made a mistake when I did. I want to cover that right now. We will get back to the main report in a moment.

I filled the CLU to what I thought was 500 psi. Last time we looked at the performance on 675 psi, which Vortek says should generate about the same velocity as the factory mainspring.

R9 disassembly and assembly

Tom Gore advised me to put a smear of moly grease behind the piston seal, where it would burnish into the compression chamber. I did that with a cotton swab before putting the CLU back into the spring tube.

Beeman R9 moly
Tom Gore advised putting a smear of moly grease behind the piston seal

I complained in the previous report about how long this new R9 took me the first time I disassembled it. This time it came apart and went back together in 45 minutes. The parts were just looser from disassembly, plus I was becoming familiar with the R9.

When I tested it after this work, though, it cocked harder than it had the first time — which was 36 lbs. And the velocity was higher. What?

Man, was I discouraged! I went to the hand pump to make sure I had done things right, and of course I hadn’t. The gauge on the pump reads in both bar and psi, and I had read the bar scale when filling this time. Instead of 500 psi I put in 50 bar, which is 725 psi.

Beeman R9 gauge
When I filled the CLU the first time for this report I stopped at 50 bar (blue arrow) instead of the intended 500 psi (green arrow).

I could have just tested the rifle from there, but I wanted to test it on lower pressure first, so I went through the entire thing again — disassembly, pressurizing the CLU and assembly. This time the entire procedure took me 30 minutes — start to finish.

I’m not trying to set a record for speed. I’m just saying it gets easier as you become more familiar with the procedure. This time I watched the gauge closely and made sure that just 500 psi were put into the CLU. And, what a difference it made!

I will say this — the CLU takes a few shots with the rifle to settle after you change the pressure. My first couple shots with 500 psi were almost as fast as they had been before, plus the gun seemed only slightly easier to cock. After several shots, though, things settled down to what they are going to be. Let’s look at that now.

JSB Exact

First to be tested were JSB Exact domes. When the CLU was at 675 psi they averaged 689 f.p.s with a 21 f.p.s. spread. After pressurizing to 500 psi the average was 544 f.p.s. and the spread was 16 f.p.s. — from 539 to 555 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 9.02 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Predator Polymag

Next to be tested were the Predator Polymag hollowpoints. In the last test (675 psi) they averaged 672 f.p.s. with a 16 f.p.s. spread. On 500 psi they averaged 531 f.p.s. with a 10 f.p.s. spread from 526 to 536 f.p.s. That’s 8.14 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

H&N Field Target Trophy

We learned that the H&N Field Target Trophy is Vortek’s favorite pellet in .20 caliber. In the last test these averaged 763 f.p.s. with a 9 f.p.s. spread This time they averaged 610 f.p.s. The spread went from 606 to 619 f.p.s, which is 13 f.p.s. At the average velocity these generated 9.44 foot-pounds.

H&N Baracuda

Now it was time to try the H&N Baracuda pellet. At 13.58 grains they are not heavy pellets in .20 caliber. They averaged 676 f.p.s. before with a 9 f.p.s. spread. This time they average 548 f.p.s. with a 9 f.p.s. spread from 543 to 552 f.p.s. They produce 9.06 foot pounds at the muzzle.

Crosman Premier

I tested .20 caliber Crosman Premiers. Although they are no longer available I have several boxes of the 14.3-grain domes, so I thought I would test them. In the last test Premiers averaged 662 f.p.s. with a 15 f.p.s. spread. This time they averaged 528 f.p.s. and the spread was 13 f.p.s. — from 521 to 534 f.p.s. At the average velocity Premiers produced 8.85 foot pounds of energy.

Benjamin Cylindrical

The last pellet I tested was the Benjamin Cylindrical. In the first test these averaged 642 f.p.s. with a large spread of 46 f.p.s. This time they averaged 544 f.p.s. with a 19 f.p.s. spread from 534 to 553 f.p.s. They produced 9.40 foot pounds of energy.

Discussion

Dropping the pressure of the CLU from 670 psi to 500 psi dropped the muzzle energy from 13-15 foot-pounds to around 9 foot-pounds. In most cases the velocity spread got tighter at the lower pressure.

The rifle became even smoother shooting because the piston isn’t moving with the same force. In fact at this pressure this R9 is feeling more like an R8. I would enjoy this gun in .177 because it is so easy to shoot.

Trigger

While I had the rifle apart the first time I removed all the Weihrauch grease from the Rekord trigger and lubed the critical points with moly grease. I also lightened the trigger return spring. The trigger that had some second-stage creep and broke at 2 lbs. 2 oz. before now breaks crisply at 1 pound.

Cocking effort

This is what I was after when I decreased the pressure in the CLU. I wanted smoother shooting and lighter cocking. When the CLU had 670 psi, the rifle cocked with 36 lbs. of effort. With 500 psi it now cocks with 27 lbs.

Evaluation

This test shows a flexibility that I haven’t seen in a spring piston air rifle other than the Whiscombe with its air transfer port limiters. I wish I could keep the rifle with this tune, but there is one more thing to find out. What is the maximum power that can be derived?

I will not be over-pressurizing the CLU the way Theoben owners used to do. I think where I had it at 50 bar, which is 725 psi, is a good practical maximum. So, that’s where we will go next.

68 thoughts on “Beeman R9 with Vortek center-latching air piston: Part 3

  1. BB you are a perfectionist. I would’ve just tested the high pressure first rather than spending the extra… I am guessing 27 minutes, for an extra cycle of teardown, pressurization and assembly.



  2. B.B.,

    Certainly a very interesting development for spring pistons, especially if this will be made available as a retail item. You can now adjust/tune your rifle to the pellet’s optimum velocity. Of course this will always be subject to abuse by those who are out to get more power at all costs. The longevity of the product is also still open to question. Maybe this can be an opportunity for long term testing mounted on another rifle probably in .177 so that there will be a larger variety of pellets available.

    Siraniko


  3. BB
    I want to bring this up before I forget.

    You said the first couple of shots were needed to settle the Vortek ram (CLU).

    That happens only after you change the pressure. It don’t happen everytime you pick the gun up to shoot like if it sets overnight. You know like some pcp’s need the valve bumped to get the valve woke up.

    In other words you shouldn’t need no warm up shot after the gun sets for a fair amount of time. It should be ready to fire at will.

    And the spread getting tighter is what I figured would happen at the reduced pressure.

    And now you say it’s smooth. So in a sense you just changed the gun from a HW50 to a HW30.

    I know your going to wince when I say this. But darn I would like to try one of these CLU’s in a Tx 200.


    • GF1,

      I don’t think it needs a wake up shot.

      Tom Gore told me there are chambers inside the unit that contain the air under pressure to moderate the unit. I think that is what is happening, though I don’t know enough to explain it.

      B.B.


      • BB
        Maybe next time you shoot the gun after it has set all that time. Do about 4 or 5 shots over the chrony and see if velocity is low on the first shot.

        I’m guessing it will be ok but something to look for.



          • BB
            Yep true on some spring guns needing woke up too. Forgot about mentioning that.

            And yep that’s what I thought for the start of the next report. That might be your accuracy report too. So maybe shoot a group while your shooting over the chrony. That way if the velocity is different on the first shot you can see how much or if it effects where the pellet lands.

            And you know that first shot velocity thing. That might all change at different fill pressures just like what happened with the velocity spread. Maybe it might show up at say higher fill pressure. Just a guess. Maybe not at all.


  4. Well, this is certainly an interesting product. Smoother shooting than a springer, the ability to adjust shot cycle and a viable replacement for a spring needing replaced. This is definitely an item for someone that likes to tinker.

    It does require a high pressure hand pump, a spring compressor, multiple? tear downs and the willingness to tear down whatever it is your putting it in. A chrony too. If I have a hand pump, that also means that I am already into PCP’s. Mmmm?

    Then the accuracy issue. What if the accuracy is worse?, assuming one knows what it was going in. This pellet works good with a low fill, but this pellet does great with a high fill. It is kind of like having an adjustable PCP,.. only in a springer.

    It would be interesting to know if this could be filled from a buddy tank. I have one, but no hand compressor.

    The options seem endless. I like options and love to see new things come out. Hats off to Vortek for their forward thinking and innovation.

    Good Day to one and all,…. Chris


  5. BB,

    Yep, I have been wanting an HW95 for quite some time now. This Vortek CLU is most definitely the clincher. Being able to tune this sproinger to optimum performance is what so many experienced sproinger shooters have been waiting for. Before, this kind of adjustability was only available in the PCP world or to those who could afford Theobens. I do seem to recall that the Hatsan Vortex piston was adjustable for a bit, but I am not sure if it still is. Also, the Hatsan quality is not quite on par with that of Weihrauch.

    It looks like I am going to have to make some room at RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns.



  6. I like the idea of the Vortec Gas Spring and that you can tune it from an all-day plinker to a magnum hunter. The ability to fine-tune it to a specific pellet is a real bonus.

    Wonder if the volume of air in the cylinder is low enough that a “threaded piston” could be incorporated to change the internal pressure instead of using a pump. I am imagining a removable transfer port to give access to the pressure adjustment so that disassembly of the rifle would not be required.

    B.B., I am curious why you chose a .20 caliber test rifle. Is there any technical advantage to it? I have always viewed the .20 as a “propitiatory format” (difficult to source, more expensive, less choice) introduced to lock the consumer to the vendor and never considered it for that reason.

    Hank


    • Hank,

      I don’t know if you meant to, but you just invented something fabulous!

      I didn’t choose a .20 caliber rifle. I asked Pyramyd Air for a beater R9 that was laying around their shop and they sent me their show display gun. It’s just the way it worked out.

      You are right that the .20 was introduced for just such a reason. Sheridan did it in 1947 and it didn’t work for them and Beeman did it again in the 1980s with the same result. However, that’s what we have. 🙂

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        I like analyzing things to understand how they work and try to find ways to improve them. This habit served me well in my career as a designer.

        Though not an engineer, I worked with engineers all my life and I guess that their driver to fix something even if it is not broken has rubbed off on me 🙂

        Now that I am retired, I hope to play around with some of the ideas that I have had to see if I can make them work. Just bought a lathe/milling machine for those projects.

        I understand about the .20, you work with what you have. You could do worse than a R9 – would live to have one 🙂

        Hank



  7. B.B.

    Very interesting report with nice photos too. Thank you 🙂

    Also, I am very pleased to see more comments now showing with the RSS feed. Could you contact Pyramyd’s IT department and ask if what we are now seeing is going to be the norm? We used to be able to see two weeks of past comments in the feed. Now we are seeing one previous day along with the current day. I was just wondering if this is a change in the format, or if the RSS feed still needs some work. I think ChrisUSA would also like to know the answer to my question.

    Have a great day B.B.

    Geo


    • George,

      I have asked IT to explain this. You see, not everyone has a problem. I’m on a Mac and can see all the comments back to 2005.

      There are issues with the website speed and the number of comments. This blog gets more comments than most blogs. Hundreds of times more! That takes bandwidth and that slows things down, as you know so well. Friday’s report has over 200 comments. Several readers use this blog as a chat forum and that drives the number of comments, plus we have more viewers than almost any other blog in the shooting sports.

      These are good things but they carry consequences. We are bumping into them now.

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        Thanks for replying to my question. I think that if we took a poll a majority of the readers would have the same issue as I, only seeing two days of comments. I use Windows 7 and Firefox as my browser, which has a RSS reader integrated into it. Others may be using Internet Explorer, or Google Chrome which would require a plug in to view RSS feeds. You probably won’t find may people using Apple computers though.

        I do appreciate this blog very much and thank Pyramyd Air for providing the platform and thank you for hosting and writting the daily blog.


      • B.B.,

        100 works for me, which is what mine shows. I have never tried to go back too far as I just use to catch up. 60-80 in the worst case on a busy blog day while at work. And then, I just look at the comments on the same day blog. I find it most useful to see comments on older blogs be they a day or a week or years old. I find it to be a very useful service/feature.

        Chris


  8. Can anyone help me?

    I wanted to know about the quality of GAMO pellets. Are they high, low, or mid quality? Specifically, the TS-22 pellet.

    Any help appreciated.

    Airfun


  9. I use a 5 year old IPad and have had no problems getting all comments, even the old reports. There was the glitch one day a few weeks back. I’m no Apple salesman but their products work. I frequently refer back to old reports when I’m looking to buy an accurate gun from the past.

    Decksniper


    • Decksniper,

      Do you use the “Comments RSS” or are you just saying you can go back and see the older comments?

      I can go back to an earlier blog and still see every comment on that older blog. My issue is with using the “Comments RSS” to see older comments. I am only seeing two days of comments using the RSS.
      I’m just asking, are we talking about the same thing?

      Geo


      • Geo791

        Okay, not talking about the same thing. IPad can’t open “Comments RSS” or I don’t know how. When this feature works well what does it enhance?

        Decksniper


        • Decksniper
          I’m an iPhone user and I can never get the RSS feeds to work. I looked at some kind of rss reader in the App Store but didn’t feel like messing with it. I just refresh the blog and then scroll down.
          Carl


        • Decksniper,

          I am sure geo will have more,.. but quite simply,… you can go to bed and wake up 8 hrs. later and see all the comments made while you slept. All in time order. They can be from any blog. No matter how old.

          If you leave for work and come back 10 hrs. later,… and there is 30 new posts,… and there was already 150 comments,… you do not have to search through the blog to find them all. They are right there in the Comment RSS, in order.

          That is the basic benefits of using it.


          • Chris

            Thanks for that. I may have to look into more computer power. Would like to have that feature. In the past my desktops and laptops have all fallen prey to updates not working properly. Have to restore. Then updates start piling up and won’t download. Never had an Apple desktop or laptop.

            Decksniper


            • Decksniper,

              I do not think it is a power issue. Geo should be able to help. He is running Widows 7 (old) and doing fine. Sorry I can not be of more help,… I am a computer “dummy” for the most part.

              I use a pay service called HP Smart Friends and it has bailed me out a few times. Updates can be a bummer. HP tries to delete stuff and force other things on you. They deleted my Norton 360 and my Chairgun on one update. It runs 14.99/mo. and very easy to use. Good for tech. dummies,… like me. Call and/or do on-line. They will scan and do fixes if needed for no extra cost. They do remote access. 100% satisfied.


            • Decksniper,

              Chris gave a pretty good explanation of the benefit of using the comments RSS. When I first began following this blog several years ago I used to try to keep up the comments and found it terribly time consuming and difficult to do. Also, by just scanning through the current day’s blog you never see any new comments made in earlier blogs. Someone here on the blog told me about using the RSS and once I started using it, it was so much easier to keep up. On weekends there can be over 200 comments posted. Trying to scan through all those to find new comments is extremely time consuming. Using the RSS it very easy. Like Chris said, they will all be ordered by date and time with the most recent at the top. The trick is when reading the comments, you need to click on the blue date & time. That will move it to the top of the page but more importantly, it will flag it as “read” when you go back to the RSS feed. The comments that have been read will be “red” and the “blue” ones will be the comments that have not yet been read. That’s where the time savings happens.

              If you use a desktop or a laptop computer then Microsoft Internet Explorer will run the RSS feed. I use Firefox and that has the reader built in and also will run the RSS feed. If you want to use Google Chrome then you will need to install an RSS reader extention. Also, if you want to use a cell phone or tablet, you will have to download and install an RSS reader app. This does not require any extra power, just a computer that will run a web browser.

              I am a computer tech and have done repairs on them for about 25 years as a sideline. I use Teamviewer to remote access several of the people I support when they have issues. I would be happy to help you with any computer help you might need…no charge. This is my way of giving back to the bloggers here that have helped me with my airgun education 🙂

              Oh, and I do not work on Apple products. They are very good quality, and reliable but way too expensive in my opinion. They are also very proprietary and not able to run some of the software that Windows does. You pay two prices for a system and then when it’s time to upgrade it, you through it away and buy a new system. Only about 3% of the computer market is made up of Apple computers. Graphics designer like Apple computers but business don’t use them for the most part. Their iphones and tablets are much more marketable.


  10. Interesting product in terms of its mechanical design and market niche. Unfortunately, my guess is that these two things do not go together. The very things that give joy to the serious airgunner and tinkerer will turn off the much larger numbers of beginners who just want to shoot. That’s not to say it might find a small but loyal clientele. But I would say this is closer to an iguana than Jurassic Park.

    In other news, you want to be careful out there riding bikes of all kinds. I broke my right arm in two places falling from my bicycle on Saturday and just got out of the hospital today after surgery. It was partly my fault for carrying a lot of gear with one hand so that I could only steer with the other. But anyway, this brings all shooting to a halt for six weeks.

    Matt61



    • Matt61,

      Sorry to hear of your bicycle accident. That had to be a painful experience. Those bones don’t bend like they did when we were young. Now they break and it takes a long time to heal. Hope you are back to good health real soon and able to shoot this spring.



    • Thanks all. I think that’s right about the body not being so resilient. I need to dial back my risk factor. Shooting is on of the safer sports when done right.

      Matt61



      • Matt61
        True about the shooting sports. Drag racing and other motor sports are the same. Driving a car at 150 mph is no different than driving at 50 mph. It’s all about the condition that your in and that your driving in. Even RC airplanes.

        Not trying to pick at you. Just say’n there is safe ways to do things as well as unsafe. It seems the unsafe is always easier.

        But I do hope you can give some type of shooting a try while your healing. I fell at work a little while back and messed up my trigger hand wrist. It definitely did some hurting but I pushed myself to keep shooting. Better now. But man I didn’t realize how much I used than hand for till it got hurt.

        What kind of gun you got that would maybe be easy for you to shoot right now?



  11. Ha! I have a HW50 with a 4-16 UTG and can’t put 3 in a quarter at 25 yards resting on a bag. That’s got to be me. When I can do that I’ll reward myself with a TX200 and a Hawk scope. . . . No point in getting a TX200 until I can do that!


  12. Hi BB,
    How did you “lighten the spring” on the R9 to get a 1 lb pull weight ? Did you have to clip it shorter ?

    Also, why is it now “crisp” instead of “creepy” ? Was this just from replacing the old grease with moly grease ?

    Thanks,
    John


    • John,

      All I did to lighten the trigger was back off on the trigger return spring. That’s the screw behind the trigger. No cutting of the spring.

      I removed the Weihrauch grease and put moly grease on the sear, the piston hook release (top of the sear) and the piston hook.

      Everything took 5 minutes. Rekord triggers are very easy to adjust.

      B.B.


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