The Seneca Dragonfly multi-pump pneumatic rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Seneca Dragonfly
Air Venturi Seneca Dragonfly multi-pump air rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The focus
  • Pumping
  • Pump effort
  • Velocity
  • Test 1. Crosman Premier lite
  • Test 2. Crosman Premier lite
  • Test 3. Two other pellets
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • RWS Hobby
  • Seating pellets
  • Pump lever noise
  • Storing the rifle with air
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of the Seneca Dragonfly multi-pump rifle. There certainly is a lot of interest in this air rifle. Some have noted its similarity with the Diana Stormrider and wonder if the Dragonfly can be considered a precharged pneumatic with a built-in pump. Others are quick to point out this rifle is made in China by Snow Peak Airguns (SPA).

Several readers could not envision the pump arm of the rifle from the picture I posted, so here is a side view.

Seneca Dragonfly
Air Venturi Seneca Dragonfly side view.

The focus

While it’s nice to know the lineage of the rifle, my interest is how well the Dragonfly performs. Reader Benji-Don sent me his impressions of the rifle, which I will start sharing with you today. This is velocity day, so that’s where we will start.

These are Don’s general comments about the rifle.

“Out of the box it looks good, quality and fit of parts looks good. All wood and metal is good. Weight is a little heavier than expected but holds well in a compact rifle. Wood has a nice finish and bluing on barrel and tube is nice. I like it. Only the front sight and trigger guard are plastic. It feels solid.”

Pumping

The Dragonfly has to be cocked to accept a charge of air. In that respect it is like the Sheridan Supergrade I am testing, and I assume the maintenance procedures in the Sheridan manual will also apply to the Dragonfly — namely that pumping without the action being cocked will blow dirt out of the valve.

Pump effort

Here is what Don says about the pump effort.

“It is not as easy to pump as I would have hoped. Based on the pump dimensions it must have a small valve volume.”

Don is being kind. The first pump stroke is fairly easy, but starting with stroke 2, the effort builds fast. Here is what I recorded on the bathroom scale.

Stroke……..Effort lbs.
1…………….17
2…………….34
3…………….42
4…………….46
5…………….46
6…………….46
7…………….46
8…………….46

The pumping effort is hard, as Don says, but there is a “secret” to keeping it as low as possible. Back when Daystate made their multi-pump Sportsman Mark II, I had to learn this trick or not be able to pump the rifle all 5 times (with the Sportsman Mark II, 5 pumps was the max.). Pumps 4 and 5 for that rifle took 77 lbs. of effort, which was compounded by the fact that the rifle was a sidelever instead of an underlever.

The secret is to not force the lever too fast. If you keep continuous pressure on it instead of trying to pump fast it will peak and hold there. All multi-pumps I have tested do this.

Velocity

What do you get for all your effort? Let’s see.

Test 1. Crosman Premier lite

First up was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellet.

Pumps…………Velocity
3…………………647
4…………………663
5…………………717
6…………………740
7…………………770 no air remaining in gun
8…………………779 no air remaining in gun

Test 2. Crosman Premier lite

This is a quick check of the numbers obtained in the first test.
Pumps…………Velocity…….Energy
7…………………771…………10.43
3…………………644…………7.28
5…………………727…………9.27

Test 3. Two other pellets

 

JSB Exact Heavy

Next up was the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy.

Pumps…………Velocity…….Energy
3…………………573…………7.54
5…………………651…………9.73
8…………………707…………11.48

RWS Hobby

Now, lets see some speed! The 7-grain RWS Hobby pellet is one of the fastest lead pellets around.

Pumps…………Velocity…….Energy
3…………………665…………6.88
5…………………756…………8.89
8…………………831…………10.74

Seating pellets

The Dragonfly’s single-shot pellet trough makes loading easy. But there a step inside the breech. Round-nosed pellets fed well but wadcutter Hobbys got hung up. Here is what Don said.

“The leade is rough and it is hard to push the bolt and seat the pellet.”

Pump lever noise

The pump lever clacks loudly when it’s closed with every pump. To quiet it,  a thin pad of cushioning material between the lever and pump tube might do the trick. If you plan to stalk game, pump the gun before you begin.

Trigger pull

The Dragonfly trigger is single stage and very nice. The pull stacks at the end, giving a false two-stage feel, but it pulls through the heavy weight unpredictably. I will be able to use this trigger as it comes from the box. Read what Benji-Don said.

“The trigger is not bad but not good either. It is almost like a two stage trigger but the second stage is not predictable and has a long pull. I think the trigger has an adjustment screw. It looks like it from the parts diagram. The trigger tends to pull the gun to the left when it fires. It also has more kick than I would have expected. I think the hammer spring is stronger than is necessary. With one pump in the gun, If the hammer is let off holding the bolt it will release the valve. I may open it up and see if some moly and an adjustment will help the trigger.”

The safety is positive and crisp. It is easy to put on and take off. Here is what Don said.

“The safety is excellent. It is manual. It is firm and solid and it is outside of the trigger guard. That is just the way I like them.”

Storing the rifle with air

Don wrote a comment about storing his rifle with air. Here is what he said.

I need to put two pumps in the gun for storage. The hammer spiring opens the valve on one pump.”

I had not tried leaving air in the gun until this point. Now I filled it with one pump and uncocked the gun. Two hours later the air was still in the gun, so my Dragonfly performs differently than Don’s.

Summary

So far the Dragonfly is looking like a good multi-pump. We test accuracy next, and I plan to test it with the open sights that came on the gun.

42 thoughts on “The Seneca Dragonfly multi-pump pneumatic rifle: Part 2

  1. Hello everyone.

    I was wondering if there is an easy fix for the Benjamin Hand Pump. My hand pump is leaking from the bleed screw. Screw now turns all the way in with only slight resistance. I am thinking about putting plumbers tape around the threads of the screw but I’m not certain if this is a good idea.

    Airfun


  2. B.B.
    It looks like it has a decent power to weight ratio.
    I like the looks of the rifle, but I must be getting old.
    When I read Don’s comment,
    “Only the front sight and trigger guard are plastic”
    all I could think was,
    “C’mon, man; can’t they at least offer a metal front sight as an option.”
    Still, it’s a pretty rifle; and I really hope she shoots as good as she looks. =D
    take care & God bless,
    dave
    P.S. I’m sure you know how much we all really appreciate all you do, but I’ll say it again anyway; and thank you!


  3. BB,

    I like this comparison, parsed out in little nuggets, between your impressions and Benji-Don’s.

    It already sounds like the lead in on the breech is accomplished in the same fashion as on the stormrider, which is, in a word, insufficiently. I had to open that up and polish it to get most of my collection of test pellets to feed in my stormrider and I recall that you had issues as well. I think the fun is really going to start when you try to use the magazine. I hope you will be using the same battery of pellets as you attempted to use in the stormrider so we can see if SPA has learned anything about what we expect as basic functionality in our guns over here.

    I have recently seen it reported in Hard Air Magazine that the Seneca is a new branding of Air Venturi’s importation of SPA produced airguns for US sales in their Airgun Depot and Pyramyd Air stores. Do you know if Air Venturi is making any claims of having the guns made to their “specifications and Quality Standards” such as those claimed by Diana? I personally feel that the Importers are just accepting whatever quality that the SPA factory is capable of producing at any moment, but I would still be interested in knowing if you know if any claims of control over the process are being made by Air Venturi.

    I’ve seen multiple reports of the bolt handle coming loose on stormriders after the gun has been fired awhile. Is there any chance that you could make an effort, through either firing or attempting to unloosen the bolt, to sus out whether this quirk has followed the the Diana gun into the Air Venturi gun that shares its heritage. Another issue that cropped up on the bolt of my gun was the fact that it pounded a mushroom into the aluminum bolt lock slot in the receiver. I was able to trace this to the bolt being repeatedly snapped violently rearward on firing. The velocities on this gun are lower because of it being a multipump but if you could place your thumb lightly on the rear of the bolt while you fire on 8 pumps a few times and see if you feel an impact, that would maybe indicate whether it will be a problem on this gun as well. You commented that you were going to pass my complaint about the mushrooming and the harsh rearward thrust of the bolt on to PA. Did they have any response?

    I don’t recall reading of you inspecting the crown of a test gun. I admit that I’m still catching up on your past blogs and may see it in the future, but because my stormrider had an issue with machining marks inside the barrel that impeded its accuracy until I cut that part of the barrel off and recrowned it, I’m going to ask you to give a quick impression of that area if you are willing.

    I know answering most of what I have asked will require more work for you and is outside the normal scope of what you do in your testing. I don’t ask it lightly, but I also don’t think that I’m in the minority here when I say that some extra assurances may be required for a widespread acceptance of this new brand. These are some of the answers that will reassure me but I could be wrong about others and will understand if you can’t fit it into your report.

    Half


    • Half,

      Air Venturi does brand the Dragonfly. I may need to write an entire blog to explain how that works, because it isn’t just one way and it’s not always obvious. I do know that Air Venturi rides their suppliers ghard on quality.

      As for the bolt handle, I will at least watch it. I took a picture of the rear of the receiver behind the bolt shank before I began testing. At this point there is no sign of damage. I just pumped the rifle 8 times, loaded and fired it and placed my thumb behind the blot. There was no movement.

      B.B.


      • BB,

        Thanks for checking that for us. If you remember, the bolt handle on my stormrider broke off and I had to re-thread it to put it back on. That shortening may have changed the geometry somehow and contributed to the mushrooming. My gun had so many things wrong with it that I don’t believe anyone would want to try to sell them, so it may have been the “super lemon” that got made just before the factory closed for the Chinese New Year long weekend, or whatever the equivalent would be over there. Also my stormrider was making nearly 29 FPE with a 16 grain pellet so I’m sure it was giving the bolt a bigger jolt as well.

        Half


        • Half,

          In the beginning it was very hard to cock and seat pellets. I was afraid of breaking the bolt handle. The cocking effort has improved noticeably with lubrication and use. The pellet seating effort has improved 200% once I smoothed up the lead. I have not had any loosening of the bolt handle so far, but have been careful based on your warning with the Stormrider.

          Don


          • Don,

            Do you think anyone who wasn’t handy enough to open and polish their barrel lead would ever be happy with the way it loaded if it was like yours? I don’t think that issue was going to go away on my stormrider no matter how many rounds I put through it. That’s why I contend that SPA is not getting the basic functionality of their guns consistently and it doesn’t seem like their distributors are pressuring them much to change that.

            Half


          • Don,

            My stormrider was very hard to cock. Pulling back on the bolt is how I broke the handle off. If you take the bolt carrier part of the receiver off you will see, on the underside a tiny set screw. That screw bears against a very small rubber ball and presses it against the under side of the bolt. Adjusting that screw will make the bolt operate more freely and it is much easier to cock, assuming of course that yours has the same assembly as my stormrider.

            I think I first adjusted it in thinking that all the slop between the bolt carrier and the bolt was what was causing the issue. By the way, does your bolt feel like it’s too small for the bore that it rides in? All floppy and sloppy? Anyway I seem to recall that taking the slop out was the wrong move and it made it even harder to cock so I backed it out to where I started then out a little more and now its really sloppy but it cocks easily. I couldn’t tell you why it works but it did on mine. I had tried a couple of different greases and it would cock easy for a very short time then get hard again as the grease wore off. Now I don’t grease it.

            Half


  4. B.B.,

    I just thought I was getting weak in my old age. That is more pumping effort than I thought. Like you say if you get a good rhythm it is not too bad. I planned on scoping my Dragonfly from the beginning. I put a Hawk 2-7 scope on mine with the high rings that came in the PA bundle. With the small scope I still had to remove the rear sight. Once the rear sight was removed I could have used medium rings. I eventually will put medium rings on the gun. I also looked at the breech and decided it was strong enough to handle pumping while holding the scope in my right hand. So far pumping while holding the scope has not developed any problems. I did shoot two ten shot groups one holding the scope and one holding the stock and did not get any difference.

    There is an adjustment screw on the trigger. You need to remove the stock and take two pins out of the trigger to get to the screw. I took out most of the long pull. I did not try to make it a hair trigger though. I still cannot predict when the trigger will break. It is a trigger that I have to focus on more than I like too but it is about average.

    The cocking effort on my gun has smoothed out and become much easier to pull since I made the comment about needing two pumps to hold the valve closed. I just checked it and it still needs two pumps. It takes about 30 seconds and then lets the air out with only one pump. So there is definitely something different with the two guns.

    I did quite a bit of smoothing on the lead to reduce the effort in seating pellets. The pellets were catching just behind the bolt O-ring and just past the transfer port. The pellets now seat much smoother.

    I have not measured pellet velocities in my gun but settled on 6 pumps based on the pumping effort and pellet drop at 25 yards. Your velocities seem to confirm the 6 pumps.

    Don.


    • Benji-Don
      Thanks for the info. And thanks BB.

      From what you are both saying about the gun I still would like to try one.

      I’ll be waiting to see how the accuracy report goes. Still happy to see a new pumper released to market now days.



    • Don,

      I’ve see some pics of stormriders using scopes and in some cases the owner was able to turn the rear sight around in its dovetail to give a bit more clearance and to still keep the sight with the gun so it doesn’t get lost. That also leaves it available if the scope breaks out in the field.

      Half


      • Half,

        A while back when I was cleaning out my workshop I took all of my fishing gear out of a large cabinet and put the gear in plastic tubs. I use to fish about three days a week, but that was years ago. Now it is pellet guns, so the cabinet has all my pellet gun stuff in it. I put extra and spare parts in labeled ziplock bags and store them in one location now. I should not be loosing parts now.

        Don



  5. Looking good so far!

    Thinking that 3 pumps would be plenty for plinking out to 20-25 yards and 8 pumps for pesting at longer ranges.

    I am curious what velocity and energy 8 pumps would generate in a .22 caliber for hunting small game. Maybe someone could post that information.

    Hank


  6. I was taught and it has also been my experience with harder trigger pull that you compensate evenly with the thumb and the result should be an even shot. Pulling to the left too much thumb pressure and pulling right not enough. The unpredictable break though makes it extra tough because well the pressure only matters at the break.


  7. B.B.,

    The Dragonfly is definitely a looker. I am wondering how far the pumping arc is, especially given that it is a hard-pumping air rifle.

    Could you include a photo of the Dragonfly with its pumping arm fully extended?

    Thanks,

    Michael


  8. BB,

    I recently read your blog on the pump assist 392. I don’t recall reading why it was discontinued. If it was because of high manufacturing cost/ too labor intensive to build or something along those lines, maybe it would be viable from a low cost producer like SPA. It certainly sounds like this gun could benefit from it. Why was it discontinued, if you know?

    Half



    • Halfstep
      Without me going back and reading BB’s article. I’m guessing by pump assist it means pump the gun up multiple pumps then each additional shot only needs around 3 more pumps to sustain the same amount of velocity as the first multiple pumps.

      If so there is place in Arizona that sells air guns that still sells a Benjamin based on the 392. But if I was to get a 392 it would be one of those. And it does cost more than a regular 392.

      It’s called a air conserving pumper (ACP). Here is a description about it.

      “Developed by Steve Woodward, the Benjamin ACP takes pump-up rifles to the next level. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology in air conservation, the Benjamin ACP uses less effort to achieve full power shots, and is significantly quieter than the standard model. By installing a hammer debounce device, the otherwise wasteful valve now conserves most of the stored air for use in the following shot. By simply pumping the rifle initially to the full 8 pumps and firing at full power, the next sequential shots only require 3 pumps* to achieve the same full power. This drastically reduces the amount of time and effort between shots, making follow up even quicker. Plus, the conservation of air greatly reduces the muzzle blast that a standard Benjamin would have. In order make the rifle less complicated to use, the ACP comes with a simple pressure sensor module which protrudes when the rifle is fully charged with air. This eliminates the risk of overcharging the rifle and locking the valve. When the pressure sensor protrudes from beneath the stock, the rifle is fully charged. Added to the innovative valve design is the reknowned SuperSear trigger, installed. This sear changes the factory trigger configuration and produces a true 2-stage trigger.

      The latest MkII version comes with new features which make this rifle even better! The pressure sensor module has been modified to include a travel limiter, which eliminates the risk of the sensor causing pain while pumping. The trigger sear is replaced with a Dual-Power SuperSear, which restores the key feature of a pumper, the multiple power settings. And, while multiple power settings are handy on a standard pump rifle, the Benjamin 392 ACP MkII enters a new category as a self-sustained precharged rifle. On lower power from a fully pumped (8) charge, the ACP MkII gives 3 consistent shots at 500 fps with 14.3 grain pellets before it needs just 5 pumps to recharge!

      *3 pumps are standard, but occasionally 2 or 4 pumps are required.”


      • GF1

        I’ve been reading about that system but I haven’t read that resource yet, so thanks.

        The pump assist uses an invention on the pump handle that changes the geometry of it as the pressure goes up. Keeps the pumping effort at around 14 # as I recall. Butterfly pump was a term that BB coined for it, I think.

        Half


  9. Hi BB
    Nice review so far on the Dragonfly. Looking forward to seeing how it shoots.
    A quick question now about Peacemaker pellet shells.
    Both Peacemakers I have, the NRA and the Ace, came with the same type of chrome plated pellet shell. They have a small shoulder a little way back from the head of the shell. Also about 50 Shells in total that I have purchased from different Canadian suppliers are identical with the same small shoulder. (See attached photo).
    The boxes the guns came in show a completely different shell – one with no shoulder as do the pictures of the pellet shells that are sold elsewhere on the internet.
    I’ve read that some people are calling it a gas seal but the shoulder doesn’t mate with any kind of machining inside the chambers.
    Do you have any idea what the tiny shoulder is for?
    Cheers
    Dave



      • BB
        Thanks for the info and just out of curiosity, on the Ace you used for the recent review, did the shells have the same little shoulder as per my photo?
        Cheers
        Dave



          • BB
            On looking closer at the online sales pictures I see now that the shells without the shoulder are obviously for 6mm plastic airsoft bb’ s. Makes me think that most of the replica guns, Colts, Webley and etc. were originally designed for the airsoft crowd.
            Cheers
            Dave


    • Dave
      To me it looks like they was trying to simulate the shape of the bullet. In other words it would of looked more realistic if it was painted gray to resemble a lead bullet.

      Just my thought. I could be wrong.


  10. And next, the most important section of the review,…accuracy.

    For those air rifle shooters who haven’t tested them in their air rifles, I am pretty impressed with the RWS Meisterkugeln 8.2 grain rifle pellets. They make a lighter pellet they call a pistol pellet. Haven’t tried those. I now have two multi pump air rifles that prefer these pellets over anything else I have tried in them. Both of these had already asserted to me that they were picky as heck about pellets. First, my Umarex APX NPG. I was unimpressed with the accuracy of this one. I had tried maybe 15-20 different pellets in it, including RWS Supermags, Hobby’s, and Basics. Then I found the Meisterkugelns at a local fishing and hunting shop. These were simply so much more accurate that they have made my NPG a one pellet gun.

    I have a newer model Crosman 760 also, and it had been shooting best with Crosman Premier Super Match wadcutters. I tried the Meisterkugelns in it also, and they have displaced the Crosman pellets as the 760’s favorite. The smooth bore 760 will never win an accuracy competition with most rifled airguns, but if kept to seven yards it is surprisingly accurate. Again, I had tried maybe 20 pellets in it and settled on the Crosman’s for about a year. The RWS are better enough that I have switched to them now. The only drawback is that the RWS are slightly loose in the 5 round magazine. Since I tilt my multi pumpers muzzle up when pumping, the RWS pellets can back out of the magazine a bit and if I don’t catch it, the magazine will jam. So, I just load 3 of these into the first three holes in the mag, and push the mag into the first click lining up the first pellet to the breech. The other 2 pellets can’t slide back if done this way.

    So, I suggest this RWS pellet to others to try if they haven’t already. Not as expensive as H&N, JSB or other higher end pellets. I can’t find those where I live anyway. Also, it seems RWS is starting to pack smaller quantities per tin. I think I bought the Meisterkugelns for about $12.00 per tin of 500.

    I am really looking forward to Tom’s accuracy tests of this Dragonfly.


  11. I have an update on my Dragonfly holding air. Last night I put two pumps in it and let off the hammer spring to store it. It was in the bedroom and I heard it go off a couple hours later. I had not paid that much attention before, so I gave it three pumps and later it lost the air. It makes a click/pop when the valve opens. Like a dry fire. Maybe my valve is leaking.

    At that point I put two pumps in the gun and left it cocked. I don’t recommend this but the hammer spring seems too strong anyway. Today after about 12 hours with the gun cocked their was still air in the gun. So something is up with my gun. My plan is to store the gun with two pumps and cocked from now on. I will follow up down the line.

    Don


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