An American Zimmerstutzen: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

American Zimmerstutzen
What in the world is this?

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Firearm
  • Hand made
  • Covered in “charms”
  • How does it work?
  • Where are we going with this?
  • Summary

Today I have something so strange there are no words for it. I titled this report, An American Zimmerstutzen, simply because Whatizit wouldn’t attract many readers. But that’s what I wanted to call it. What in the world is this strange little gun and why does it even exist?

American Zimmerstutzen size
It’s not that big, as the Red Ryder shows.

Firearm

First, this is a firearm. It uses .22 caliber blank cartridges to launch what I was told are .22 caliber lead pellets. That won’t work very well because .22 caliber pellets are not really .22 caliber. More on that later.

American Zimmerstutzen receiver top
Looking down from the top on the receiver. Doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen!

American Zimmerstutzen receiver right
Does this right-side view clear it up?

Hand made

Next the gun is almost entirely made by hand. And I do mean hand — as in no machine tools. Files, mostly. Another big story.

Covered in “charms”

No, they aren’t charms, but I don’t know what else to call them. Medallions? Escutcheons? Jooles? When I point some of them out to you, you’ll start to see what I mean.

American Zimmerstutzen butt
There are lots of them, but what are they?

American Zimmerstutzen medallion
This medallion from the left side of the butt is a big clue.

How does it work?

The blank is set off and gas from it gets behind the projectile, launching it. Sound simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, folks, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Where are we going with this?

I don’t know! I haven’t worked up the courage to shoot it yet. I bought the blanks, but I wanted to understand the gun better before I started to shoot it.

Well, there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. I don’t know if you remember that I hate being lied to, but the pawn shop that sold this gun lied through their teeth when they listed it. I’m going to save that story for another time, but I will give you a great big clue.

American Zimmerstutzen hang tag
This is a huge clue, but it’s not what you think.

Summary

I could tell you a lot more about this gun today, but instead I want you guys to talk about it. I only know what I know because I’ve been studying the gun for many months, and you guys often come up this thinks I never thought of. I don’t want to stifle that.

That should keep you talking all weekend.


Air Venturi Match pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Air Venturi V10 pistol
Air Venturi’s V10 Match pistol.

This report covers:

  • Best-laid schemes…
  • Straightforward
  • How to dry-fire the V10
  • Lubrication
  • Moly
  • Test the trigger
  • Put everything back together
  • The fix
  • Summary

Best-laid schemes…

…o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley! The poet, Robert Burns, was right when he said that. I told you that I was going to show you how to lighten the trigger of the Air Venturi V10 Match pistol today, and I am. But in the past this has always been a simple 15-minute job. It should take me maybe 30 minutes with pictures. I had planned to do the accuracy test today, after finishing with the trigger. Nope! Instead I struggled for some time, and in the struggle I learned something valuable that I will now pass on to all of you.

Straightforward

The job I’m going to show you is straightforward. It should be easy for everybody, as long as you don’t stray past where I’m taking you. In Part 2 we left the trigger at between 2 lbs. 2 oz. and 2 lbs. 9 oz. pull. A 10 meter pistol trigger can be as light as 500 grams, which is 17.64 oz. or 1 lb. 1.64 oz. So, where we left the trigger was more than one pound too heavy.

The first thing I did this time before anything else was to carefully measure the trigger again. It was breaking at around 2 lbs.

 V10 pistol trigger start
The trigger tested at about 2 lbs.

How to dry-fire the V10

To cock the V10 for dry-firing, raise the top cover of the gun as if to cock it, but it only needs to be raised a little — less than halfway. You will be dry-firing the pistol a lot with this procedure, so best learn now how it’s done.

Then I took the grips off and adjusted the trigger pull weight lighter. Now the trigger was breaking at 10.5 ounces, which is 298 grams — way too light! But I would wait to see what would happen with the lube procedure I was about to do, so I stopped adjusting. I had adjusted the pull with the grips off, so I could see how the adjustment screw works.

V10 pistol trigger adjusted
With the grips off I adjusted the trigger lighter to 10.5 oz.

V10 pistol grips off
The grips are off. The left side of the grip has nothing interesting to see.

 


The right side is where all the action is. That translucent cover hides the trigger parts. Pay attention to those two arrows that point to two pins. Those pins are the axels of parts in the trigger mechanism. When the cover comes off one side of each pin will be unsupported.

Three Phillips screws hold the translucent cover to the grip frame. Remove them and take the cover off. You can now see all the trigger parts.

V10 pistol cover off
And there is the trigger. The pistol is not cocked.

You can cock the pistol with the cover off — just take care not to let any trigger parts fall out.

V10 pistol sear uncocked
This closeup shows the two parts that connect to form the sear (arrows). In the next picture you will see them together.

V10 pistol sear cocked
Here the gun is cocked. It may not look like it because of some shadows, but those two parts are now in contact. See that brass pin at the upper right of this picture? That is where the trigger (the grooved metal piece next to the pin) will contact the sear to move it.

Lubrication

We have now seen where the lube needs to be applied. The pins you saw earlier don’t need anything. Keep oil out of the trigger because it just attracts dirt. We want to lube the sear contact, only.

V10 pistol sear
This looks at the sear (arrow) from a different angle. That’s where the lube goes. AND ONLY THERE!

Moly

I used moly grease for this job — yes, moly! I know some people feel moly is too slippery for a trigger, and there are triggers that I would recommend not using it on. BSF triggers, for example, are not designed right for moly grease. They become too light. But this trigger has a safe sear engagement and I have been doing this for years to these pistols.

V10 pistol moly
I used a paper clip with a quarter-inch bend at one end to apply the moly grease.

V10 pistol moly applied
There is the grease on the sear. See how I also applied it to the other part? That was not intended. Use a cotton swab to clean it off. The moly will transfer to the other trigger part when the gun is cocked and fired, so there is no need to lube it now.

Test the trigger

I dry-fired the trigger with the cover still off to see what this lube had done. Remember that it had been breaking at 10.5 oz. before the lube. It now broke at 8.6 oz. (243.8 grams). That’s way too light! So I dialed some weight back into the trigger-pull adjustment screw (the cover is still off the trigger) and tested it again. This time the pull broke at 15.7 oz. (445.1 grams). That’s close enough for me, because the trigger may get heavier when the grips go back on.

V10 pistol trigger test
That is far too light for a pistol trigger! I need to adjust the pull weight.

V10 pistol trigger test 2
With the trigger exposed the pull weight is closing in on one pound. I like that and will close the gun now.

Put everything back together

I put the cover back on, then reinstalled both grips. Now I tested the trigger once more. It was 2 lbs. 1 oz.! Whaaat? This is the special thing that I talked about at the beginning. How could putting the grips back on cause the trigger pull to increase by more than a pound? Only one thing I could think of was the adjustment screw could be binding and that might cause it to tip and throw off the other parts it is connected to. So I pulled off the grips to have a look.

Sure enough — that was it! When the grips were made the hole the adjustment screw passes through was drilled too tight and when the grips are snug the screw has sideways pressure on its head.

V10 pistol grip
Here you see the wood is binding on the adjustment screw head. It was doing this on both sides.

The fix

The fix was quick and simple. I used a sharp pocketknife to ream the extra wood out of both grip panels. I didn’t take off much! Then I installed the grips and tested the pistol again. This time the trigger pull is 1 lb. 1.6 oz or 498.95 grams. I’ll take it! I won’t be competing with this pistol so I’ll never have to go through an official test. If I was going to, I would dial the pull up to 520 grams, just to be sure.

V10 pistol trigger test final
Almost a perfect trigger-pull for a 10-meter pistol.

Best of all, each pull of the trigger is now about the same. None of this 2 lbs. 2 oz. to 2 lbs. 9 oz. business. Job done!

Summary

This turned out to be a way more detailed report than I anticipated. I was going to show you all the steps of the trigger lube, but I have never had a problem with the adjustment screw binding this way. I’m glad it happened, because it gave us all a chance to learn more about this trigger. Now I can test the accuracy of the V10.


Sig Sauer P320 M17 CO2 pellet pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig M17 pellet pistol
Sig Sauer P320 M17 pellet pistol.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Action
  • Sights
  • Light rail
  • Holsters
  • Disassembly
  • Installing CO2
  • Removing and installing the magazine
  • Manual
  • Works with BBs
  • Summary

Just a reminder that I’m in the hospital today, so I can’t answer questions. Hopefully I will be back home sometime tomorrow.

This is the completion of my description of the new Sig P320 M17 pellet pistol. Now I need to explain something. This pellet pistol is marked M17 — not P320 M17. Sig calls it the P320 M17, so it is correctly identified both here and on the Pyramyd Air website. But I told you that I bought the P320 M17 firearm, and it is marked with both numbers. Let me show you.

Sig M17 pellet pistol markings
On the top left of the slide the pellet pistol is just marked M17. This is also how the Army sidearm is marked.

Sig M17 pellet pistol firearm markings
On the top left of the firearm it says both P320 and M17.

The pellet pistol weighs 2.15 lbs. That will change with the installation of a fresh gas cartridge and 20 lead pellets.

Action

The pellet pistol is double action only while the firearm is single action only. You can pull the trigger repeatedly on the pellet pistol and the striker (which I will soon call a hammer) will cock and fire. The slide does not cock it.

You can only pull the trigger once on the firearm. After that the slide needs to be retracted to cock the striker again. For this reason I think of the pellet pistol as an M17 and not a P320 M17.

One reader wanted to see whether there is a hammer in the pellet pistol, so I disassembled it to show him. Yes, the pellet pistol does have a hammer, even though Sig calls both it and the M17 firearm striker-fired pistols.

Sig M17 hammer
The M17 pellet pistol does have a hammer (arrow).

Sig P320 M17 striker
The P320 M17 firearm does not have a hammer and is a true striker-fired sidearm.

Sights

The pellet pistol has fixed sights, front and rear. The front blade has a single white dot and the rear has a white dot on either side of the notch. These resemble the tritium night sites that are on the firearm.

Sig P320m M17 sights
The M17 pellet pistol (left) has white dots on both sights. The P320 M17 firearm has radioactive tritium dots for night sights.

Light rail

At the forward end of the frame is an M1913 (Picatinny) rail for lights, lasers and even dot sight mounts. Given who will be attracted to this pistol, I think this rail will get a lot of use.

Holsters

Here is one place you will want to take some care. The Army’s M17 pistol is supplied with extended 21-round magazines that may not fit in some civilian holsters. When you buy a holster for your pellet pistol make sure it is compatible with the M17 firearm and not just with a Sig P320 pistol that can be configured in a smaller package.

Sig P320m M17 holster
Make sure the holster you get will fit the M17 with extended magazine.

Disassembly

Disassembling the pellet pistol is similar to the way the firearm is disassembled, but not identical. To disassemble the firearm the slide lock is used to hold the slide open, then the disassembly lever is turned to loose the slide from the frame. On the pellet pistol you don’t lock the slide back. Just pull it back and hold it, then rotate the disassembly lever. It’s quick and easy to disassemble because the slide spring is not strong.

Installing CO2

To install a CO2 cartridge, remove the magazine from the gun. Then the bottom cap of the magazine must be removed. Next, pull down on the magazine backstrap. However, to insert the new cartridge into the mag, put in the large end first. That seems counterintuitive, but it’s the only way it will go in. Then close the backstrap and the gun takes it from there. However, remember to put the bottom cap of the mag back before you insert the mag in the gun because it’s hard to do it afterward. It’s possible but hard.

Removing and installing the magazine

Once a CO2 cartridge has been pierced, the magazine is under pressure and exhausts a little gas each time the magazine is removed from the gun. This may come as a surprise the first few times it happens.

When installing the mag give the bottom a slap to push it up into the gun. That gas needs to be overcome during loading, too. If you don’t, the gun will either not fire or the shot will be very weak.

Manual

The manual is well-written, but the print is quite small. I need a magnifying hood to read it. They don’t tell you how to disassemble the pistol, but to remove a jammed pellet the pistol does need to be disassembled and they tell you how to clear the airgun. So it works out.

Works with BBs

Yes, this pistol does work with BBs. I didn’t mention that in Part 1 because it didn’t seem that important, but a lot of people want that capability. So I should have mentioned it. The chambers on the belt in the magazine will grab and hold BBs just as well as pellets, so you decide as you load it what you want to shoot.

The specs say the barrel is rifled but I’m darned if I can see the rifling. Maybe it’s polygonal?

Summary

The Sig P320 M17 pellet pistol is extremely realistic. Not only does it look like the firearm, it also operates in very similar ways. And, it’s a pellet pistol. What’s not to like?


Sig ASP20 rifle with Whiskey3 ASP 4-12X44 scope: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig ASP20
Sig ASP20 breakbarrel rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The silencer
  • Accuracy
  • Tools
  • Whiskey3 ASP 4-12X44 scope
  • Can the scope be used without the ranging system?
  • Summary

Today I will finish the general description of the new Sig ASP20 breakbarrel rifle. If you want one you should have placed an order during the Cyber Monday sale, when they were 20 percent off!

The silencer

Let’s begin with the silencer. I mentioned in Part 1 that it is a real one with technology inside. Instead of baffles Sig uses three “hair curlers,” or at least that’s what they look like. They are in series and are each wrapped with felt. I can tell you that they definitely work. Also the gas piston in this rifle is very quiet, which makes the ASP20 the quietest spring-piston airgun at this power level.

Sig ASP20 silencer spools
These spools are connected in line inside the silencer.

Sig ASP20 silencer wrap
Each spool is wrapped with a felt pad.

Reader Red Beard Forge said the following about the silencer.

“Hi B.B. is the silencer removable? I am really intrigued by this gun but living in Canada any silencer is considered a prohibited device. If the silencer can be removed entirely or if the baffles inside could be removed it would be much easier to get one of these rifles into the great white north and comply with our far more restrictive laws on airguns (all airguns are considered firearms, but the licensing requirements are waived if the velocity is under 500 fps, so the legislative loophole that allows silencers on airguns in the states doesn’t work up here).

The power issue is less of a problem as most Canadians involved in shooting sports also have a firearms license. I have personally imported a high power air rifle from the states and had no problems whatsoever. I did it in person at a border crossing. I just showed them the specs of the rifle and my firearm license and they sent me on my way after checking the computer system to make sure that the model I was importing was not prohibited in Canada.”

I can tell you that the silencer is not made to disassemble, so Sig would have to build rifles without the silencer’s guts. They might also have to alert the RCMP they were doing that for the rifle to be accepted in Canada. I have no idea if they plan to do that, but I can tell you they are considering it, because Sig never misses a beat when it comes to marketing.

Accuracy

Ed Schultz called me the day before Thanksgiving last week to ask if I had received my rifle and how did I like it so far. As we talked he said I might want to clean the barrel early on and see what that does for accuracy. He said some guns respond to a barrel cleaning and others don’t seem to.

He said to clean it with a bore brush and patches but to not go as far as to use JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. He said I might see some soot on patches if I cleaned early on. Or I could just keep shooting and eventually the pellets would clean the bore themselves. I will keep that in mind when we get to the accuracy test.

Tools

Besides the rifle, Sig packs some tools for your use. There are a screwdriver and an Allen wrench to adjust the trigger, and in my case, since the rifle came with a scope I got the Torx wrench for the screws on the rings. I got something more with the scope that I will now discuss.

Sig ASP20 tools
The tools for the rifle and for the scope came in the box. Sig even bent the trigger adjustment screwdriver so you can adjust the trigger with the scope mounted! The scope knob and cap and the Torx wrench at the bottom are for the Whiskey3 (see text).

Whiskey3 ASP 4-12X44 scope

As mentioned in Part 1, my rifle came with the Whiskey3 ASP 4-12X44 scope mounted. This scope is made for the ASP20 and does something airgunners have waited a long time to see. It is ballistically matched to certain pellets, allowing the shooter to just dial the distance to the target and the pellet will always strike at the intersection of the crosshairs.

Sig ASP20 Whiskey3 scope
Sig makes the Whiskey3 ASP 4-12X44 scope specifically for the ASP20 rifle.

Sig ASP20 Whiskey3 turret
The elevation turret is calibrated in yards. Note that 20 yards and 35 yards are at the same setting. I have been writing that for 20 years and now we see it graphically. The same adjustment covers all shots from 20 through 35 yards.

The vertical crosshair adjustment is calibrated in yards to the target rather than just having simple index marks. Once you have sighted in with the right pellet, just dial the turret to the distance to your target and put the crosshairs on what you want to hit. I tried it when I shot the rifle at Sig this past July and my rifle was dead on. I started shooting at 10 yards and was dead on target. Then I moved to 35 yards, adjusted the scope turret and was dead on again. Then I shifted to 50 yards, adjusted the scope and put the pellet through what I was aiming at. Ed Schultz was watching my target through a spotting scope, and, when I shot at 50 yards and hit what I was aiming at, I wanted to go again. He said he would spot me, so I fired at the pellet hole. This was on a large Shoot-N-C target that was clean, so wherever the pellet hit would be visible. Ed was not able to see the pellet hole grow! Either I aimed off the target entirely or my second pellet went through the first hole!

The pellet the scope is calibrated to is Sig’s Crux Ballistic Alloy dome. But I found them hard to chamber, so I switched to JSB Exact Jumbo domes and they were the ones I used to shoot the targets. So I know which pellet to test in my rifle!

Can the scope be used without the ranging system?

What If you don’t want to use the ranging system of the Whiskey3, or what if it doesn’t match the trajectory of the pellet you want to shoot? Sig sends you a standard MOI adjustment knob (see the picture of the tools, above) that replaces the yardage knob. The scope is calibrated in 1/4 MOA clicks, so the switch is not difficult.

The scope adjusts for parallax down to 7 yards and out to infinity. The index marks on the objective bell from 10 yards to 50 yards occupy half the circumference of the bell, so there is some range finding capability for Hunter field target, though 12 power doesn’t give a lot of resolution. All things considered, the Whiskey3 is a well-thought-out airgun scope.

Summary

I will end the description here and get into velocity testing next time. This promises to be a great air rifle and scope combination!


Why collect airguns?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Covered this subject before
  • How to begin?
  • Because I couldn’t have them
  • I couldn’t afford them
  • Got a paper route
  • The point
  • Why do this?
  • Not the only reason
  • Summary

Reader William Schooley requested this report and I need to do it today for a special reason I am going to explain. On Wednesday I go into the hospital for surgery, so I am writing a lot of blogs to cover the time when I can’t be online. When Edith was with me, something like this was seamless, but now I am the only guy in town and I have to do things differently. Therefore, this week’s blogs will be shorter and, starting Wednesday, I won’t be able to answer comments for awhile. I’m supposed to be home on Thursday sometime, but we’ll see how that goes. Now let’s get into today’s report.

Covered this subject before

This is not the first time I’ve addressed this subject. Just last year a reader named [email protected] asked me what made an airgun collectible. Several other readers wondered the same thing, so I wrote a 3-part report titled, Collecting airguns: What is collecting? that is a very good introduction to the subject. Today we have a slightly different question that touches on the same subject.

How to begin?

William’s question — Why collect airguns? — is entirely subjective. It’s like trying to answer the question, “Why do you like the color blue.” Still — there are a lot of people who do collect, so there must be something to it. Why do they do it?

I thought the best way to answer would be to explain why I collect. Maybe something will come of that.

Because I couldn’t have them

When I was a kid two things prevented me from having airguns. First, my mother didn’t permit it. That ended all hope for me, as long as she felt that way. She had been terrorized by some neighborhood boys with BB guns and didn’t want me to do the same. She wasn’t anti-gun, just anti-breaking windows.

My father died when I was 9 and he wasn’t much on gun instruction, either. About the only thing he ever said was, “You’re too young for this” (a Benjamin pump pistol). “When you grow up I’ll show you how to shoot it.” Well, that never happened, though I did inherit the pistol and discovered on my own how it worked.

I learned to shoot from my neighbor, Duane. He owned some sort of Daisy that had no forearm and he knew that gun well. He seldom let me shoot it, but I got to watch him a lot, because it was always in his hands when we weren’t in school.

I couldn’t afford them

When I got older (11 or 12) my mother relented and bought me a BB pistol — or at least that is what it said on the outside of the box. In truth it was a cruel joke. Toy caps were said to propel BBs when fired from a plastic Luger-looking pistol. I got it to “work” a couple times on the day I got it but never again after that. The caps left a hygroscopic residue on the few metal parts inside the gun and they rusted to the point that they no longer would function. It wasn’t a great loss, though, because I could actually throw a BB faster than a cap could propel it.

Wamo ad
This is how the Wamo pistol was advertised in 1956.

Kruger box
Yeah, the box promises everything, but the gun inside doesn’t deliver.

Kruger rusty breech
Once those breech parts rust like this they stop moving very fast. Then the caps don’t detonate.

Got a paper route

Then I got a paper route, delivering the Akron Beacon Journal to about 58 homes. That brought me close to $10 each week, and that was when I had the money ($5- used) to buy the most powerful BB gun of the day — a Daisy Number 25 slide-action. I bought it and enjoyed it for a few days until it lost power. Then I took it apart and couldn’t get it back together again and sold it to a friend whose father repaired it. It turned out that BB guns have to be kept oiled to maintain their power.

Daisy 25
I owned a Daisy Number 25 just like this when I was a boy. I didn’t oil it and the power was lost.

The point

The point of these two stories is that, because I was fascinated by the Wamo Kruger, I collected 4 of the cap-firing Wamos (they are still quite cheap) and wrote the longest expose of the Wamo company’s involvement with guns that has ever been written. It was published in Airgun Revue number 5). Turns out Wamo made 6 different BB guns and one potato gun that all used caps. I have proved their connection to some oddball BB guns like the Western Haig with patent numbers and Post Office box addresses. I also identified three .22-caliber rimfire firearms that were made by Wamo.

Western Haig
Wamo made lots of cap-firing BB guns, like this Western Haig that sold in comic books.

And the Daisy Number 25 that got the better of me as a youth built in a lifetime attraction for that gun. I wanted to own one, and then another until a few years ago I owned one example of every major Daisy 25 variation made before Daisy moved from Plymouth, Michigan to Rogers, Arkansas. I have since gotten rid of most of them, because apparently that itch has been scratched.

Why do this?

So, William, why did I do all of this? It boils down to one thing — I detest being lied to! Wamo lied about that Kruger BB gun working and they lied again more recently when I contacted them for information regarding their former involvement in the BB gun and firearm trade. This was when I was gathering information for my article. They told me they were never involved with BB guns and that it was a different company that had done that. Well, the company has changed hands a few times over the years and they have changed the spelling of their name from Wamo to Wham-o, but the lineage is there. The ad from 1956 that I show above has both name spellings in the same document.

Not the only reason

These two experiences shaped a portion of my life, but they aren’t the only reasons I collect airguns. For example, seeing ads for the Sheridan Model A (the Supergrade) multi-pump pneumatic as a kid made me want one of those. Heck, just seeing the ads for the regular Blue Streak in Boy’s Life made me want one that I could never afford. So, when I returned from Germany in 1977, I bought one as an adult for $39.95. I still have it.

Sheridan Blue Streak
My Sheridan Blue Streak has been with me since 1977.

Summary

This report sort of wrote itself. I got it started and then my memories took over and wrote the report. And knowing that allows me to answer William Schooley. Why collect airguns? Because something in your life has set you up for it. Perhaps it’s a fascination you have or perhaps it was some specific incident that caused you to associate with one or more airguns in an intimate way.

The report I linked to at the beginning of this one talks about what makes a thing collectible. Read all three parts of that report to answer that question. But as for why we collect, I think I have addressed that today.


Johnson Indoor Target Gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Johnson Indoor Target Gun
The Johnson Indoor Target Gun is a catapult BB gun that was made in the late 1940s for youth target practice.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • What kind of rubber?
  • Remove the old rubber
  • Measure the old rubber
  • Loops on each end
  • Install the new rubber
  • Ready!
  • Daisy BBs
  • Problems!
  • Got it going
  • Baseline
  • Shortened the rubber
  • Second Daisy test
  • Dust Devils
  • Two lessons
  • Shortened the rubber again
  • Higher velocity
  • Shortened the rubber another time
  • Last test
  • Summary

Today I install a new rubber band in the Johnson and if all goes well, we will see what velocity it gives. In case you forgot, when I got this gun the rubber was broken.

Rubber
This is how I got the gun.

What kind of rubber?

I have been shooting my other Johnson Indoor Target Gun for years, so I had 10 feet of 3/16” amber surgical tubing on hand for repairs. I will start with that.

rubber bag
I had this surgical rubber tubing from my other Johnson.

Remove the old rubber

Step one was to remove the old rubber from the gun. It might look easy, but wherever that rubber was in contact with the steel in the gun it had bonded. It took me 15 minutes to get all the little pieces out.

old rubber
The old rubber tubing was both brittle and gummy and stuck to the steel parts of the gun.

Measure the old rubber

Since I had it I measured the old rubber. The big piece was 8 inches long and I estimated there were another two inches among all the pieces. So — 10 inches overall. But what if the rubber is missing altogether?

Well, since you are reading this — 10 inches. But here is the deal. This is not rocket science (where IS our Rocket Jane?), so you experiment until you find what works. Heck — I don’t know that 10 inches will work yet.

Loops on each end

The next step is to make a loop on both ends that will fit over the steel hooks in the gun. They used fine string or thread for this years ago, but I found that small cable ties work well.

cable tie loop
Make a loop like this on each end of the new rubber. Make the loop small because this stuff stretches.

Install the new rubber

All you have to do now is install the new rubber where the old one came out. It took about 10 seconds. I attached both loops to the hooks then stretched the rubber over the carrier as shown below.

rubber installed
Install the new rubber where the old one was.

Ready!

The gun is ready to shoot. For today’s first test I counted each BB that I loaded into the magazine tube that’s on the top cover.

Remember what I said about how to cock this gun (and stretch the rubber)? Use a ramrod to push the launcher back, after pushing it forward to catch the rubber. This preserves the plastic launcher and the two thin steel hooks that are used to pull it back during cocking and loading. See this in Part 1. Both things will break in time if you don’t do this. Let’s go!

Daisy BBs

First to be tested were Daisy Premium BBs.

Problems!

Oh, my gosh! The launcher wouldn’t catch the rubber when pushed forward and then, when I figured out how to make that work, I could not get the launcher caught by the sear!

I spent some time opening and closing the top cover to discover what could be wrong. In the end, though, I think it was mostly due to a catapult gun that was made in 1947 being used for the first time 71 years later! Hey — this gun is as old as I am! No wonder it doesn’t want to work.

Got it going

I played and played with it, solving one thing after another. Nothing had to be fixed — I just had to do a lot of funny things like push the launcher forward repeated time to get the rubber tubing to pop into its groove, and then I had to pull the trigger several times before ramming the launcher back to the sear. Once I figured it out the gun shot well almost every time.

Baseline

Every time I have tested a Johnson I have gotten velocity averages with steel BBs of 100-101 f.p.s. Guess what I got this time? 101 f.p.s. I got that shot after shot after shot. The low was 99 f.p.s. and the high was 101 f.p.s. I remembered how very stable catapult guns are

But this time I had played with the mechanism like never before and I now knew that I was the problem all along. I must have always cut the rubber tubing about 10 inches in the past, because I always got the same velocity. Time to do something different.

Shortened the rubber

I removed the rubber and snipped off about an inch from one end. Then I made a new loop at that end and reinstalled it.

Voila — the launcher is now catching the rubber easier when I push it forward. It isn’t 100 percent and I still have to fiddle a little, but it’s much more reliable. The trigger still has to be pulled several times to catch the launcher when it is rammed back.

Second Daisy test

This time Daisy BBs averaged 116 f.p.s. That is the fastest I have ever seen a Johnson shoot. But like I said — I was the reason for that all along. Now I knew that a shorter rubber would increase the velocity — time to test some other BBs.

Dust Devils

Next up were Dust Devils. Now Dust Devils are considerably lighter than Daisy BBs, so they should go faster — right?

Nope. Dust Devils averaged 116 f.p.s. Oh, one of them did go 117 f.p.s. and one went 115 f.p.s., but what the hey?

Two lessons

I learned two things from this test. First, I don’t need to shoot 10 shots and then average the string with the Johnson. One shot is all it takes. This gun is incredibly stable, as far as velocity goes.

The second thing is I don’t need to test a range of different BBs. If Daisy BBs go a certain speed, all other steel BBs are going to go the same speed. See — an old dog can learn new tricks!

Shortened the rubber again

I removed the rubber and snipped off another inch. Then I made a new loop and installed the rubber in the gun. Since there were still some Dust Devils in the magazine I went with them.

Higher velocity

This new setup gave a velocity of 129 f.p.s. I shot it a second time and it was another 129.

Shortened the rubber another time

I snipped on another inch and made a new loop but now the rubber looks really short. So I laid it next to a ruler and photographed it. I said I have been snipping off an inch each time, but it looks like it has been more than that.

short rubber
The rubber has gotten really short!

Last test

I installed the new shorter rubber and fired the gun one last time. The velocity was 116 f.p.s. because the rubber broke upon firing. I did see some abrasions on the left side of the rubber this time when I stretched it to fit the gun.

short rubber installed
The new short rubber is on the hooks but hasn’t been pulled back over the rear yet. As you can see — it’s really short! Notice the left side of the rubber. I think there are some small abrasions there.

short rubber broken
Just one shot and the rubber broke. It was probably too short, though those abrasions may have caused this.

Summary

What I have learned is with this surgical tubing I should start with about 7 inches and go from there. Not only is that good for me to know, now everybody who puts one of these Johnsons back in service knows what to use and how much, as well.

I also learned that the velocity is what it is. It doesn’t vary. Shoot one BB and that’s where your gun is shooting.

Finally I learned that the brand of BB probably doesn’t matter that much. Of course I haven’t tested any lead BBs yet, but I think this holds for all steel BBs.

I’m not done with the velocity test. Some readers who are into catapults suggested a different type of rubber and I bought some. So we are still experimenting.


Sig Sauer P320 M17 CO2 pellet pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig M17 pellet pistoll
Sig Sauer P320 M17 pellet pistol.

This report covers:

  • M17 differences
  • M17 pellet pistol
  • My grand plan
  • What’s up?
  • Lookalikes are coming to the top
  • Back to the M17 pellet pistol
  • Operation
  • Disassembly
  • Same heft
  • Summary

To all our American readers I want to wish a very happy Thanksgiving. Now, on to today’s report.

On January 19, 2017 it was announced that the U.S. Army had selected the Sig Sauer P320 pistol for their new Modular Handgun System. The full-sized gun is called the M17 and the carry-sized weapon is the M18. The rest of the U.S. armed forces also have or will have this sidearm. The nominal caliber for the U.S. military is the 9X19mm pistol cartridge that is best-known as the 9mm Luger.

M17 differences

The M17 is not just a P320 by a different name. The Army specified certain performance requirements for their pistol and they require Sig to maintain a strict separation in their plants between Army contract guns and similar civilian guns. This not only covers the finished guns but also all parts.

M17 pellet pistol

Today I begin the test of the Sig M17 pellet pistol — a 20-shot semiautomatic pellet pistol that closely copies the M17 service pistol. It comes in Coyote Tan — the same finish as the firearm, and, just like on the firearm, the metal slide is a little darker than the synthetic frame. On the firearm the slide is stainless steel. The pellet pistol slide is a non-ferrous metal. Both pistols have synthetic frames, though the firearm does has stainless steel inserts for wear resistance.

Sig M17 machining
On the tour of Sig we watched them machine solid billets of steel into finished firearm slides.

My grand plan

Sig says the pellet pistol weighs and hefts very much like the firearm and I decided to check out that claim. If you have read this blog for most of this year you know what I am about to say, but I restate it here to inform the newer readers. At this year’s Shot Show in January, Bob Li of Action Support Games (ASG) introduced me to the CZ75 SP-01 Shadow BB pistol. He was so taken with that BB gun because of how closely it copies the firearm. I have already done a 4-part report on the BB pistol, and in that report I informed you that I purchased a 9mm CZ75 SP-01 firearm so I could evaluate Bob’s claim.

That started the ball rolling, and when I visited the Sig booth at the same show, Dani Navickas put the new Sig P365 BB pistol in my hand (still not on the market as of this writing). I was blown away by the small size of the BB pistol. Because it is an exact copy of the firearm, I bought one in 9mm, as well, so I could test both of them side-by-side, as well. That firearm has turned out to be my new carry pistol and is also my new favorite all-around handgun. A HUGE report is awaiting the release of that BB pistol.

And then in July Sig sent out an email announcing a limited run of commemorative M17 pistols for civilians. I tried to place an order for one, but they were all sold before I could get my order in. They had been probably all been sold since the SHOT Show. But Sig did have a similar 9mm P320 M17 pistol that was available (it gets confusing, right?). Would I be interested in one of them? It is a close copy of the Army M17 and, since the Army pistol started out as a P320, I was interested. A third order was placed for a third firearm that has an airgun equivalent!

What’s up?

What am I doing? Have I lost my mind? Why am I buying firearms to go along with air pistols? Isn’t that backwards? The answer is one word — realism. Lookalike airguns have been around for decades, but this new crop is so realistic that it bears further scrutiny.

These new guns weigh the same, look the same, have the same controls, handle the same and fit in the same holsters. You will have an extremely hard time telling one from another when they are both in your hands, and I wanted to be on the ground floor of this movement.

Lookalikes are coming to the top

When people ask me what’s big in airguns these days I always say hunting, and more specifically, big bore hunting. That is where the sharp point of the principal market increase has been for about a decade.

BUT — and this is a really big but — lookalike airguns have also arrived and are heating up to become the next major theme. Shooters today don’t have the same background as people from my generation. They haven’t been exposed to firearms through many diverse channels while growing up, so a realistic sidearm that’s a pellet or BB pistol suddenly makes sense in a way it never did in the past. It provides a way for a shooter to train on something that is realistic yet far safer and less expensive to operate, and that multiplies their possible trigger time. This new Sig M17 pellet pistol fits comfortably into this exciting category and I now have the 9mm pistol to compare it to.

That’s what’s behind this mega-series that I’m writing. I haven’t even figured out all the tests I need to do with both the airguns and the firearms they copy. But I will! I love my job!

Back to the M17 pellet pistol

Sig showed us this pistol while we airgun writers were with them in July (to see the development of the ASP20 breakbarrel rifle) and I was amazed to see just how accurate it is. We all shot it at 10 meters and one of our number — John Bright of Highland Outdoors in the UK — shot incredibly small groups. I tried to keep up with him to no avail. That Brit can shoot!

Sig M17 shooting
John Bright used the M17 pellet pistol to school the rest of us on how it’s done.

Operation

The pistol operates in the conventional way, by a CO2 cartridge in the grip. The cartridge fits inside a removable drop-free magazine assembly that also houses a 20-round removable pellet magazine. I reviewed the Sig X-Five ASP pellet pistol for you back in June-August of this year. You might think, like I did, that the M17 is just the X-Five in a different color, but you would be wrong. The magazine assembly of the M17 is entirely different than the one found on the X-Five ASP. In the M17 both the pellet clip and the CO2 cartridges fit inside the same drop-free mag assembly, where in the X-Five they are separate.

Sig M17 mag piercing
The bottom of the mag assembly pops off and the back pulls down as a lever for piercing the CO2 cartridge.

Sig M17 mag features
The pellets and CO2 both fit in the M17 mag assembly. Push that button (yellow arrow) and the pellet clip (blue arrow) pops out of the assembly for loading.

Disassembly

One thing these lookalike guns do that appeals to everyone is disassemble. They don’t always have the same parts as the firearms they copy, but the method of disassembly is usually the same.

Sig M17 disassembled
The M17 pellet pistol comes apart in a way similar to the firearm.

Same heft

Like the firearm, the pellet pistol has a synthetic frame and a metal slide. It has full blowback, so you get the impulse of firing and the weight of the slide gives a good whack to your hand every time the pistol fires.

I have both the pellet pistol and the firearm. I will tell you this — the P320 M17 firearm is a little different than the straight M17. I won’t bore you with the minutia, but my P320 M17 firearm is single action only while the military M17 is DAO. The pellet pistol is DAO as well, so when you fire the gun the blowback action of the slide advances the magazine to the next pellet but the trigger is still double action. That said, this is the lightest double action I have ever encountered. The specs say 6 pounds to pull the trigger and I have to admit that it feels that light. I think the next-lightest double action pull I have ever measured was more than 9 pounds.

Sig M17 two pistols
The P320 M17 pellet pistol on top and the P320 M17 firearm below. The air pistol has an extended mag that’s also available for the firearm.

Summary

I have more to tell you about the pistol before we begin testing the gun, but this is where I stop today. Since I have already shot this gun for accuracy I know how this test is going to turn out, so if this pistol is on your gift radar, I say yes right now.