The AirForce Ring Loc Kit: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The .22
- 0.232 orifice
- 0.166 orifice
- 0.145 orifice
- 0.125 orifice
- Discussion 1
- .177 Condor
- 0.166 orifice
- 0.145 orifice
- 0.123 orifice
- 0.145 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open
- 0.123 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open
- Temperature affects the results
- Discussion 2
I’m not doing an historical report today because there are too many current airguns and other things on my plate. Today I will tell you more about the performance of the new Ring Loc Kit from AirForce. They have given me mounds of test data to choose from and I am abbreviating it for you. Today we’ll look at the performance in .22 caliber, as well as a glimpse into the world of the .177.
The Ring Loc Kit contains orifices in sizes 0.232-, 0.166-, 0.145- and 0.123-inches. There is also that experimental orifice that has a pilot hole of 0.070-inches that’s too small to shoot anything, but serves as a pilot/guide for a small drill bit. I hope to get to that one soon.
The Condor first came out in .22 caliber in 2004. As I have reported, we tested the first 100 of them to make sure they all shot 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets at 1,250 f.p.s. or more. That was what we promised in our first ad campaign. That Condor produced up to 65 foot-pounds with the heaviest .22 pellets of that day, but since then AirForce has added the .25 caliber barrel which has pellets that are much heavier. Also several new very heavy pellets have come to market in .22. So the factory energy is now 80+ foot-pounds out the door. We looked at some of the .25 caliber performance data in part 2 and saw muzzle energies up to 102.77 foot-pounds, and AirForce has seen energies of up to 105 foot-pounds in their testing. So today’s Condor with a Ring Loc Kit puts out the same energy as a standard speed .22 long rifle cartridge at the muzzle. However, the air rifle is still safer than the firearm. The diabolo pellet design (wasp waist and hollow tail) slows the pellet much faster than the solid .22 long rifle bullet, making the Condor much safer downrange.
Let’s look at the .22 Condor’s performance with the 0.232-inch orifice. Remember, this orifice is the size that comes standard on the rifle as it comes from the factory (no kit). With a 32-grain pellet and the rifle set at maximum power it produces a top speed of 1100 f.p.s., which is 86 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! It shoots a 21 grain pellet out at a maximum of 1200 f.p.s., which is 67.16 foot-pounds and with a 14-grain pellet it sends it downrange at 1350 f.p.s. for a maximum energy of 56.67 foot-pounds. All these numbers come from an information page AirForce is making for their website, and some rounding has been done, but it still gives you the idea of where things are.
The 0.166-inch orifice is going to give less power than the 0.232-inch orifice but will have more shots per fill because it conserves air. Using these same three pellets and with the rifle’s power wheel still set on maximum, here are the numbers.
32-grain pellet — 1000 f.p.s. — 71.07 foot-pounds
21-grain pellet — 1130 f.p.s. — 59.56 foot-pounds
14-grain pellet — 1245 f.p.s. — 48.2 foot-pounds
This is the orifice that gives the Condor much more control over velocity. The power wheel really works with this orifice, rather than what it does when it’s running wide open. You can equate this to the jets in a carburetor. With large jets you can get a lot of power but the engine may never idle right. With small jets you get less power but better mileage and more stabile performance.
32-grain pellet — 925 f.p.s. — 60.81 foot-pounds
21-grain pellet — 1050 f.p.s. — 51.42 foot-pounds
14-grain pellet — 1160 f.p.s. — 41.84 foot-pounds
This smallest orifice is better-suited to the .177 and perhaps to the .20 caliber than to the .22 and .25 calibers. Once more we look at maximum numbers.
32-grain pellet — 780 f.p.s. — 43.24 foot-pounds
21-grain pellet — 910 f.p.s. — 38.62 foot-pounds
14-grain pellet — 1035 f.p.s. — 33.31 foot-pounds
That is a very broad range of powers! But that’s not everything. All those numbers are with the power wheel turned wide open. We know that there is some adjustment possible with the 0.166-inch orifice and a lot with the 0.145-inch orifice. We haven’t looked at any of that yet.
I will get to that when I start testing the Ring Loc Kit myself, but for now I am still briefing you on the overall performance at the top end, using numbers provided by AirForce.
A .177 Condor is a strange beast. It’s like a Chevy Corvette with a 6-cylinder engine. The first Corvette did have only 6 cylinders. The Blue Flame Six was Chevrolet’s stopgap in the 1953 ‘Vett because their first modern V8 (they did make one in 1918-19, but only around 4,000 were built) was still two years away. And that is exactly what most Americans think about the .177 Condor. If you’re going to build the world’s most powerful smallbore air rifle (and from 2004 through the present day, that’s exactly what the Condor is), don’t hamstring it by making it in .177. HOWEVER — there are Condor owners who have .177s they love, and AirForce has to think of them, too. The Ring Loc Kit does work on .177 Condors, with the exception of the 0.232-inch orifice. AirForce cautions people not to use that one because the smaller bore tends to hold the valve open and exhaust all the air or to not open at all — depending on the ambient temperature!
They do have data for the other orifices. Let’s look now.
The three pellets they tested were 16 grains, 10 grains and 7 grains. Let’s look at the results.
16-grain pellet — 1170 f.p.s. — 48.65 foot-pounds
10-grain pellet — 1300 f.p.s. — 37.54 foot-pounds
7-grain pellet — 1430 f.p.s. — 31.79 foot-pounds
This orifice is probably the best all-around one for the Condor in all calibers. In .177 it is on the large side, but still give some control over velocity through the power wheel. Let’s see what it does wide open.
Unfortunately I don’t have any results for the 0.145 orifice in .177 caliber with the 24-inch Condor barrel. I do have results for the 18-inch CondorSS barrel, and I’ll show them in a moment.
The 0.123-inch orifice is made for the .177 caliber. It works best with that caliber and not that well for the .25. We’ll look at it with the 18-inch barrel in a moment.
Unfortunately I don’t have any data for this orifice with the 24-inch barrel, either. However, I did have a long conversation with Ton Jones last Friday. He told me he did more testing of the .177 with the smaller orifices than with any other combination. Like me, Ton wanted to know how low the Condor could go, so he could safely shoot squirrels in his back yard. He wanted a quiet gun as well as lots of shots, and the smaller orifices give you both things.
0.145 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open
16-grain pellet — 1050 f.p.s. — 39.18 foot-pounds
10-grain pellet — 1180 f.p.s. — 30.93 foot-pounds
7-grain pellet — 1280 f.p.s. — 25.47 foot-pounds
You can probably boost the energy by 10 percent for the additional 6 inches of barrel on a 24-inch Condor.
0.123 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open
16-grain pellet — 960 f.p.s. — 32.75 foot-pounds
10-grain pellet — 1070 f.p.s. — 30.93 foot-pounds
7-grain pellet — 1190 f.p.s. — 22.02 foot-pounds
Once more you can probably boost the energy by 10 percent for the additional 6 inches of barrel on a 24-inch Condor.
Temperature affects the results
Ton noticed that the ambient temperature affect his results. In warmer weather the air is less dense and he got faster velocity and fewer shots. On low power in .22 with the 0.145-inch orifice he got 60 shots in warm weather and 75+ when it got cold.
When AirForce tested the kit they shot and shot until the tank pressure dropped to a certain level. When I test the rifle I will be looking for a velocity spread that doesn’t grow larger than a certain number of f.p.s. — like 20. Those two different tests are going to give two different sets of results. But the relationships will stay the same. The 0.232-inch orifice with give the most power with the fewest number of shots and little to no ability to adjust power. The 0.123-inch orifice will give the most shots at the lowest power and the greatest amount of adjustability. It would be humanly impossible to test all the possible data points that the Ring Loc Kit provides, I believe. They are:
three barrel lengths,
every pellet of each caliber, and
all the power settings on the power adjustment wheel for each of the above conditions.
That is a set of hundreds of thousands of data points. No one will ever test it all. But you don’t have to! You can set up your Condor to do whatever you want — indoor plinking at 25 feet or groundhogs at 75 yards and anything in-between. Just select the right orifice, caliber, barrel and pellet. The Condor is a systems airgun and with the Ring Loc Kit it covers almost the entire spectrum!
Next I’m going to show how the Ring Loc Kit is installed and then do a little testing of my own. I plan to drill out the 0.070-inch orifice to see how very low I can get the Condor to go, which should be a lot of fun.
If you like shooting, this kit gives you so much more to like! From squirrels in the trees at 10 yards to jackrabbits way out there, the Condor now does it all.