Gimmicks — what works, what doesn’t and why?
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Takedown rifle
- What am I saying?
- Takedown guns that work
- Same caliber for pistol and rifle
- The truth
- Dual fuel airguns
- Cocks on opening AND closing!
- What else?
Sometimes an idea for a blog just overwhelms me. Today is such a time.
I was reading about a takedown AR in the May edition of Firearms News. This 5.56mm rifle breaks down to three pieces that are less than 18 inches long, and it even comes with a backpack to carry it. I scanned the article and it seemed like a great idea — until it hit me. I have been down this road before and it leads nowhere! Takedown rifles do not function the way most people think.
The author showed several targets that seemed reasonable for an AR. Now, ARs are not that accurate, as everyone who shoots them is aware. They are good for five shots in 2 inches at 100 yards and good ones can do a little better, but accuracy is not their strong suit — anymore than it is the strength of an AK. The author showed a 4-inch group of five at 200 yards, which is very good for an AR. He also showed a 1-1/4-inch group of three at 100 yards. Okay — three shots is a modern gun writer’s way of fudging the truth. A rifle that can put 3 in to 1-1/4-inches will put 10 into 2.5 inches. That is the real accuracy of the rifle. Still, for an AR it’s not that bad.
Then he showed a picture of the rifle broken into three pieces and stuffed into a backpack. Also pretty amazing. But, wait a minute — where did his scope go? Oh, it had to come off the rifle. But don’t worry, it’s quick to attach and detach.
That’s the flaw! Sure, this rifle may come apart into three pieces and go together quickly and, sure, it may be accurate at 100 yards — BUT NOT AT THE SAME TIME! I guarantee you the writer had the gun together with the scope mounted for some time and he worked hard to get it re-sighted before he shot those groups!
What am I saying?
I’m saying you can have a gun that comes apart and you can have a gun that hits the target and shoots good groups, but I have yet to see a gun that can be put together and hit the target or shoot good groups right away. Yes, one gun can do both things — but there is a down time required to get the gun resighted after putting it together. And, it’s longer than five minutes!
I have the ultimate rifle that allows barrel swaps — a Whiscombe. It doesn’t break down for storage or transportation — just for a caliber change. After I swap the barrel I have to spend a lot of time (30 minutes or longer) resighting the gun for the new barrel. And the scope stayed mounted on the gun when the barrels were changed!
My Whiscombe rifle has barrels in all 4 smallbore calibers. The scope stays mounted, but you still have to sight in each time the barrel is changed.
Another gun that allows barrel swapping is my AirForce TalonSS. I can put 3 different barrel lengths in any of 4 different calibers on the one gun — That’s a combination of 12 different configurations. After any changes, though, time has to be spent sighting it all in!
Takedown guns that work
The takedown guns I described don’t work the way advertisers imply. But there is a version that does work exactly as expected — the takedown that uses open sights. I have a Marlin model 39 lever action rimfire that comes apart into a very small package of two parts and yet it’s accurate the instant it’s back together. Same for a Winchester model 61 slide action rifle. These rifles have both their open sights on the barreled action, which is the key to their success.
A Marlin 39 lever action comes apart in two short sections. When it is assembled it is perfectly sighted in because both sights are on the front section.
Same caliber for pistol and rifle
This is a firearm story, but it’s similar to those airguns that shoot both BBs and pellets. It centers on a lever action rifle and single action revolver that use the same cartridge. The sales pitch is you only need one cartridge for both guns. The truth is somewhat different.
Yes the same cartridge will fit and operate in both guns. It will — there is no denying it. But if you care anything about hitting your target — well, you may want to reconsider. Factory ammo that has been loaded-down to be safe — even in vintage revolvers — is what works in everything. Shoot it and you’ll soon be wanting something better!
I had a Winchester model 92 rifle in .44-40 caliber. I reloaded for it and got it shooting 2-inch five-shot groups at 100 yards. However, to do that I had to exceed the pressures that even a modern handgun is built to take. It was no problem for the rifle, but those pressures were dangerous in a revolver.
Yes you can have both a rifle and a revolver chambered for the same cartridge but no — neither one will perform its best with cartridges made for both. Back in the blackpowder days all you could get was one load, so at that time they worked as well as anything. Not so today.
Dual fuel airguns
Crosman came up with this concept with the launch of the Benjamin Discovery in 2007. It sounded so good! You could use either compressed air or CO2 in the same rifle. As long as your pellets held out you were always in business.
The truth was somewhat messier. To fill the rifle with air required one fill adaptor; CO2 needed a different one. You could not switch from one gas to the other without degassing the gun completely in between.
I swear what I am about to say is true. I heard from people using their Discos on CO2 who said they wished their guns were a little more powerful and not so sensitive to temperature, and those using air wished they got more shots per fill. I will use that thought as the summary to why dual fuel doesn’t work. As proof I offer this — the original Marauders were offered with the dual fuel capability. Today Crosman has scrubbed every reference to that concept from their manual and they state emphatically in the warnings that only compressed air is to be used!
Cocks on opening AND closing!
This one was developed for spring guns and I first saw it on the Erma ELG10. What looked like a finger lever on a lever action rifle was actually just the handle on a long underlever that cocked the mainspring.
What looks like a finger lever is just the handle of a longer underlever to cock the mainspring. Force is applied in both directions to cock the gun!
You guys probably never heard of the ELG10, so why mention it? I mention it because a Belgian firm named Rutten has had the same design on a group of rifles they call Windstars for the past 25 years and they are selling it the same way. Namely that by cocking in both directions the effort is decreased by half. In fact, it is not. These guns, whether they are made by Erma or Rutten, do not cock with half the effort. In fact they take TWICE the effort, because the lever pulls just as hard in each direction (about 33-35 lbs.).
Okay, I have kicked the anthill. Now it’s your turn to vent. What things bother you because they don’t work as advertised? Let’s stick to airguns to keep this manageble.