by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- What is it?
Today we begin looking at the Beeman QB Chief precharged pneumatic air rifle. The first question I asked — is this a price-point PCP? I think not. This is a budget PCP that has a lot of nice features, but it lacks the main ones the price point guns have — regulators, magazines and silencers. On the other hand, this rifle is more than $100 less than the price point rifles, so it’s in a special category, along with the Benjamin Maximus and Benjamin Discovery.
What is it?
If you are familiar with the QB line of rifles that descended from the Crosman 160, the QB Chief will seem familiar. Americans were making this switch from the CO2-powered QB rifles to high-pressure air 20 years ago, and not always safely. The Chief looks to have been engineered right, and I will be examining it thoroughly for that as the report progresses.
The one mistake many American modifiers made was using reservoir tube material that was too thin, leaving little or no margin for safety. Whoever designed this rifle got it right. The reservoir is made from thicker-wall tubing (I can tell by the weight) and they stretched it out to almost the end of the barrel for greater capacity.
They also set up the valve to operate on 2000 psi air. That was a smart move because it allows the reservoir tubing to be thinner than if it had to hold 3000 psi, plus it makes filling with a hand pump that much easier. Let’s face it — anyone buying a PCP for under $200 will probably not spend three times that amount for a carbon fiber tank to fill it.
This is a single shot bolt action precharged pneumatic rifle. It’s offered in both .177 and .22 calibers. I’m testing the .177, which both the box and website proclaim will get up to 1,000 f.p.s. That means the rifle should handle the heavier pellets well. They also claim up to 50 shots per fill, which I find both remarkable and hard to believe. I’ve tested both the Maximus and Discovery that also fill to 2,000 psi and 25 shots is more like it. But I will keep an open mind and we shall all find out together.
If you are familiar with the QB and Tech Force line of these guns, the QB Chief will take you by surprise. It’s hardwood stock is fuller in all dimensions and, because of the heavier reservoir, the entire rifle is both larger and heavier. The test rifle weighs 7 lbs. 4 oz. which isn’t exactly heavy, but compared to a QB rifle that weighs more than a pound less, it’s noticeable.
The rifle is 38-3/4-inches overall with a 20-1/2-inch barrel. The pull measures 14-1/4-inches.
The sights are fiberoptic, front and rear, but not very bright. Experienced shooters should be able to work with them.
The rear sight adjusts in both directions, with screw-driven adjustments that have detents you can feel but not hear. I plan to test the rifle with its open sights initially.
There is also a conventional 11mm airgun scope rail on top of the receiver. The maker has flattened the receiver top, so scope rings should easily clear.
The trigger is one of this rifle’s finest features. It’s copied from Crosman’s 160 “crossbow” trigger, which veteran readers know is extremely adjustable. As it came from the box the trigger was light but vague, and I do plan on correcting that. I will give you the directions when I do. The manual that seems well-written in most other ways does not even address this feature, which I find odd. If you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em!
As I said, the Chief fills to 2,000 psi which is a very important feature for those who are new to precharged operations. It means you can fill easily from a hand pump. It also means that any other source of high-pressure air — carbon fiber tank, scuba tank or compressor — has less to do to fill this one. If that 50-shot prediction turns out to be true, the Chef will be in contention as a world-beater. It just needs to be accurate, too.
And the rifle has a male Foster fitting to accept the fill. The maker got that detail right!
There is also a pressure gauge (manometer) on the bottom of the forearm. That is something the American hobbyists didn’t do when they modified QBs years ago.
The rifle comes with a degassing tool and the manual addresses its use. An airgunner who is new to PCPs might be tempted to fill to 3,000 psi, to see how much more power there is or how many more shots the gun will give. Only then will he learn what valve lock is, and, without a degassing tool, he is up the creek.
I first saw this rifle at the SHOT Show several years ago and have wanted to test it ever since. Now that the price point PCPs are out and we also have the Maximus, this test should mean a lot!
I am hoping for a straightforward PCP that’s ideal for first-time users. One that is easy to operate, accurate and has a nice trigger. I hope that’s what we have here. I’m looking forward to it.