by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The Whiskey3 reticle
- The test
- Couldn’t get the rifle to group!
- The double group
- Sandbag rest
- Wraith Ballistic Alloy pellets
- I can do this!
- Air Arms domes
- Air Arms Falcons
- Last group
Today I start looking critically at the accuracy of the new Sig ASP20 breakbarrel rifle. Until now I have only shot 5-shot groups. They are okay for quick work but do not tell the whole story. Today I will shoot 10-shot groups and we will learn the accuracy of this new rifle with some precision. I won’t get into the statistical reason that 10 shots are better than 5, but here is a good bottom line — anybody can get lucky, and it is far easier to do it 5 times in a row than 10.
The Whiskey3 reticle
Before we get into this test report, reader Bimjo asked this.
“In a senior moment, I just remembered something I meant to ask in my last post- what does the Whiskey 3 reticle look like? I’ve looked all over the web and haven’t seen anyone describe it.”
That is a very good question, so I asked Sig for a picture. Ed Schultz sent me one he uses.
This representation is not exact. The reticle lines are not heavy like you see here. But it is a good likeness. It is a duplex reticle with mil hashmarks along both lines.
Today I shot from 25 yards off a sandbag rest using a variety of different holds that I’ll describe as we go. Normally I shoot in the morning when I’m fresh. Today, however, I shot in the afternoon right after lunch. That changed things, as I will describe.
Couldn’t get the rifle to group!
I shot about 40 shots and could not seem to keep them, together. Group after group was opened by what I thought was a wild shot. I shot the Air Arms pellets that did so well in the last test. But like I said — anyone can get lucky 5 times. So I wondered if I had been wrong about the accuracy. Or, had the barrel become dirty with the few shots fired in the last test?
The double group
Then it happened. I had an “ah-ha” moment that told me what was probably happening. If I hadn’t spent the better part of 6 months on the rifle range a few years ago with my pal, Otho, dealing with this same thing, it would have slipped past me, but this was something I knew only too well — the dreaded double group!
It’s important to understand that by the time I discovered this I had already fired the rifle 40 times at least. So I was very warmed up. I was almost worn out! However, when what I am about to show you happened, I thought I knew exactly what caused it and also how to deal with it.
Ever shoot a target like that? Know what causes it? Subtle variations in your hold cause small variations in the harmonics of the gun — mostly in the barrel. The pellets are trying to go to the same place, but they leave the muzzle at different points.
BY THE WAY — no statistics are required!! This is an excellent example of why 5 shots do not represent what the rifle is doing as well as 10.
The double group told me I wasn’t taking enough care in how the rifle was rested before each shot. It was just after lunch and I was digesting my food, so my body wasn’t as calm as it normally is. But knowing that, I could fix it.
I began by resting the rifle directly on the sandbag. The last test I did in Part 6 suggested this rifle isn’t as accurate rested on a sandbag as it is when held by an artillery hold. But I had just shot the rifle 40 times with the artillery hold and accomplished nothing. At least the sandbag would be stable. As long as I put the forearm in the same place each time, it should give me good groups.
Wraith Ballistic Alloy pellets
Ed Schultz had sent me a tin of Wraith Ballistic Alloy pellets to try because he has found them to be quite accurate in the ASP20. I had tried Wraith Lead pellets previously, but didn’t find them as accurate as some others.
I had tried the Wraith alloy pellets in the 40 shots previously this day, but now I wanted to give them the absolute best chance for success. I discovered they want to be seated deep in the breech, so I used a handy ballpoint pen to seat each pellet. This time, off a sandbag rest, 10 Wraith alloy pellets went into 0.438-inches at 25 yards. The group is reasonably round and good-looking, and it told me all I needed to know. The ASP20 is still very accurate. Care must be given to how it is held or rested before each shot.
I can do this!
That nice group actually woke me up — especially after shooting the double group and knowing what the problem was. If the gun can shoot that well, I certainly can, too. Enough of this resting on the bag stuff. It was time to use the artillery hold the way it was meant to be used! I rested the forearm on my off hand right under the start of the cocking slot. That way I knew I could find the same place, time after time.
Air Arms domes
Next up were some 16-grain Air Arms domes. These were the pellets that gave me that stunning 5-shot group that measured 0.072-inches between centers in Part 6. I have always said that a 10-shot group should be about 40 percent larger than 5 shots with the same pellet, but that only comes out to 0.1008-inches in this case. How close could I come to that?
This time 10 shots made a 0.416-inch group at 25 yards. So, there probably was a lot of luck in the smaller 5-shot group. But today’s group is still great!
Air Arms Falcons
N ext I tried 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets — also using the artillery hold. Ed Schultz told me the rifle likes pellets in the 14.5 to 16-grain range and Falcons are only 13.43-grains, so let’s see what they can do.
Ten Falcons went into 0.463-inches at 25 yards. It was a good group, but the largest of the test.
I was tired at this point. I had now shot 70 rounds with concentration and that takes a lot out of me. But there was one more thing I wanted to see. According to my results, a group of Wraith Ballistic Alloy pellets shot with the artillery hold should be slightly smaller than the group I got resting the rifle directly on the bag. So, I gave it a go.
As I watched this group grow ever-so-slowly, my nerves began to fray. Could I hold on for 10 good shots? Well, after shot number 6, I never saw the group size increase. This time 10 pellets went into 0.324-inches at 25 yards. The group is almost perfectly round — telling me two things for certain. First — the artillery hold I have described in this report is the best way to shoot this rifle and second, the Wraith Ballistic Alloy pellet is the most accurate one I have tested so far.
I’m not finished testing the ASP20, but I will give it a break for awhile. In summary I have to say the following:
1. The ASP20 is the most accurate breakbarrel air rifle I have tested.
2. The Matchlite trigger, while not a match trigger, is the best American-made spring-piston sporting air rifle trigger ever.
3, The ASP20 cocks easier than any other spring-piston breakbarrel in its power class.
4. The keystone breech has no competition.
5. Sig knows how to rifle an airgun barrel.
6. If you are looking for a good sporting spring rifle you can’t do better than the ASP20. But that only holds true when you do your part.