Special tools for airgun repairs

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Air Arms End Cap tool for the S410/510
  • Air Arms piston seal tool
  • Seneca tool for ring nuts
  • Beeman R9 end cap plug removal tool
  • Gene’s special tool
  • FWB 124 compression chamber scraper
  • Another scraper
  • BSA mainspring assembly tool
  • Summary

Today’s report was inspired by Gene Salvino, the senior technician at Pyramyd Air. He showed me the pellet removal tool he made from a broken .177 Dewey cleaning rod and asked me to show it to you. I did in Part One of the 2019 Pyramyd Air Cup report and there was so much interest that I decided a report on special tools was in order. Now this comes on a Friday, so there is all weekend for you to post pictures of, and tell us about your own special tools.

I will start with the tools I’m the least familiar with. Then I’ll finish with a couple tools I have made myself and used over the years. Let’s get started.

Air Arms End Cap tool for the S410/510

Air Arms PCPs have holes in their end caps (where the filling is done). To remove these caps you need some kind of a spanner with pins that fit into the holes. Air Arms supplies a tool for this job to their dealers, and Gene says he uses it on S400s, S410s, S500s, S510s and whatever other pneumatic Air Arms may bring out, because they keep things standard for reasons like this.

pneumatic Air Arms
Air Arms provides this spanner to remove the end cap from their pneumatic rifles.

Air Arms piston seal tool

Another special tool Air Arms provides is for installing piston seals on their TX 200. The TX piston has a flared steel top that the seal must expand to go over. The flare then holds the seal firmly on the piston.

I will show you the tool with a seal mounted and piston that’s ready to be sealed. Then I will show the detail of how the tool works.

Air Arms piston seal tool
Here we see the tool with a seal and the piston ready to receive it.

Air Arms piston seal detail
When you see the detail you can see how this tool works.

The tool is two parts. The flared part slips into the handle, so you can install the piston seal easily. Put the seal on the small part of the flare with the bottom heading forward, so it ends up on the TX piston in the right orientation.

Gene says he doesn’t get to use this tool as often on TX200s because they seldom need new piston seals, but the same tool works on all Gamo rifles that have one-inch tubes, Stoegers from the X5 to the X20 and on certain Crosman/Benjamin Trail rifles. So it’s a handy tool to keep around.

He says if you plan to make one for yourself, make the wide end a little larger and it will also work on RWS seals.

Seneca tool for ring nuts

On Seneca pneumatics the end cap that holds the fill port is in a cap that’s held on by thin ring nuts. The nuts have two small holes on opposite sides that a spanner goes into. Boris made a tool for Gene that has two cap screws with their ends machined round and smaller to fit these holes.

Seneca spanner
This spanner for Seneca PCPs looks massive, but it’s not. The ring nuts it fits are about an inch in diameter. Boris made it from stock steel, but you could make one from a small C-clamp, too. The screws are M5 metrics.

Beeman R9 end cap plug removal tool

Gene made this tool and he says he uses it all the time when working on Beeman R9s. The R9 has an end cap that holds the trigger and keeps the mainspring under tension. It’s a sleeve that fits inside the main spring tube. It’s held in the tube by a single flange, but its also held by 4 square tabs that must be popped out before the sleeve can be rotated so the flange can clear the spring tube.

Beeman R9 tabs
There are two tabs (arrows) on either side of the R9 spring tube.

I have always popped out the first tab on either side with the short leg of an Allen wrench. The trouble with that is the wrench tries to twist in your hand and sometimes a tab is really stuck tight! Once a tab is popped out a pin punch will pass through the hole to easily pop out the tab on the other side of the tube.

Beeman R9 tab out
One tab has been pushed out and you can see the inner end cap sleeve I mentioned. Put a pin punch through the hole and tap out the tab on the other side.

Beeman R9 sleve
This is the inside of the sleeve and you can see the hole that the tab engages (arrow).

Gene’s special tool

Gene bent a heavy piece of wire to reach in and pop out the tabs. He then uses a pin punch for the opposite side.

Beeman R9 Gene tool
Gene made this special tool to remove the R9 tabs.

If I’m not mistaken, there are other Weihrauch rifles that use tabs like this. I think the Beeman R10 that is based on the HW 85 uses them, as well.

FWB 124 compression chamber scraper

The FWB 124 breakbarrel is a legendary spring piston air rifle. But the original seals dry-rotted inside the gun and all failed over time. When the gun is disassembled for a reseal, you find a lot of old seal material crammed into the corners of the compression chamber deep inside the spring tube where it’s hard to reach. So Gene made a tool to clean the end of the chamber. It includes a sharp point to get into the tight corners of the chamber where it’s hard to reach. It doesn’t look like much but he tells me it’s a tool he uses all the time. He got the idea from attending a class by Randy Bimrose who gave the students drawings of many special tools for working on spring guns.

FWB 124 scraper
It doesn’t look like much, but this tool is invaluable when tuning spring-piston airguns.

Another scraper

Let me show you how bad a 124 seal can get. These old rotten seals were stored in the wooden box that my 124 came in. They were in plastic bags that are not airtight. They started out as off-white color but look at them after 30 years!

FWB 124 seals
These FWB seals have rotted and turned to a waxy substance that crumbles to the touch.

Now I’ll show you a couple special tools I have used. I used to scrape the compression chamber with a long-bladed screwdriver. It works but isn’t as good as what Gene has. However, a few years ago I discovered that the patch removal tool for a muzzleloader is just about perfect for the tight corners.

FWB 124 chamber cleaner
The patch removal tool on a Thompson/Center Hawken ramrod is great for picking old seal material out of the crevices of the compression chamber.

BSA mainspring assembly tool

Some spring rifles have a large pin that stops the mainspring from coming out of the gun. You have to get around this pin to push against the spring guides to take tension off the spring or the pin will not come out.

BSA pin
To compress the mainspring you have to get past that large pin.

mainspring tool
This 58-cent plastic sprinkler pipe makes a good mainspring compressor that reaches around the BSA pin with ease. It looks crude, but I have taken several BSA spring guns apart with it.

Summary

That’s it for the special tools. Maybe you have one or more to share?


Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Arms S510XS
Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock.

This report covers:

  • New scope!
  • Testing adjustable scope mounts
  • S510XS Ultimate Sporter
  • Regulator
  • Magazine
  • Sidelever
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Light weight!
  • Silencer
  • Stock
  • Sling swivel studs
  • Special stuff
  • Summary

Before I begin I have a word for some readers. While I was at the Pyramyd Air Cup last weekend I talked to Justin Biddle, the marketing manager for Umarex USA. Specifically I asked about the availability of the new Synergis underlever repeater. Justin told me that it’s coming to market soon and that I was one of the writers on his list to get one to test for you. There has been a lot of interest in all repeating spring guns and in the Synergis in particular, and I just wanted you to know what’s going on.

New scope!

Today we begin an interesting series! It will feature the Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter with Laminate Stock that’s in the title, but I will be testing two other new products at the same time. Since I have to mount a scope on this rifle I have held off until Meopta sent me their new Optika6 3-18X56 RD SFP scope to test. It is a scope with a 3X zoom ratio (3-18) and a second focal plane (SFP) focal package. Veteran readers will remember that I discovered Meopta at the 2016 SHOT Show and tested and then purchased their Meo Pro 80 HD spotting scope, after finding it the clearest spotting scope I had ever looked through, and that includes spotting scopes in the $3,000 range! A couple years later I bought their MeoStar 10X42 binoculars to use as my close range spotting scope because the optics were so sharp and bright.

I really like their high-end optics that sell for about half what competing brands cost, but Meopota hasn’t made an airgun scope — until now. I have in my possession a $650 (street price) 3-18 scope that parallax adjusts down to 10 YARDS!!!!! Say what you want — this is an airgun scope and a Meopta to boot! The rifle I’m now testing is worthy of a premium scope and if this one is typical of everything else I’ve seen from Meopta, it’s worth every penny!

Is it able to withstand the recoil of a springer? Nobody knows for sure. After testing it on this rifle I may mount it on a nice well-behaved springer. I don’t need to destroy it on a jackhammer Chinese gun, because I wouldn’t do that to any good scope!

Testing adjustable scope mounts

As you may have read, I always like to elevate the rear of any scope I mount to cancel the barrel droop problem. Even if the gun doesn’t droop, lifting the rear of the scope does no harm and gives me more adjustability at longer distances, so it’s always a plus. With that in mind I asked Pyramyd Air to send me Sportsmatch 30mm high adjustable scope mounts. Now you may balk at paying $150 for scope rings and I don’t blame you — it took my breath away as well. But the $1,500 S510 rifle I am testing is a no-compromise precharged rifle that’s worthy of every benefit you can give it. I didn’t spend $4,000 on a Swarovski scope and $500 on a scope mount to go with it, so in fact I saved a ton of money by going the way I did. But this will be a test of the very best. I even asked for the laminate stock on the S510 because that is the best they have.

S510XS Ultimate Sporter

The rifle is a 10-shot repeater in all calibers. It comes in .177, .22 and .25. I got a .22 caliber to test because at high power it produces up to 32 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The power is adjustable via a small knob on the right side of the receiver and there are 4 distinct settings. A set of marks on the left side opposite the knob tells you roughly where the power is set, but each pellet will have its own power range. So this rifle will take some getting used to.

I chose the laminated stock that does drive up the price by a lot. I wanted to test something that is the best for a change. Besides being attractive laminated wood does increase the strength of the stock but it also increases the weight.

Regulator

The 186cc air cylinder is regulated. The fill is to 250 bar (3,626 psi), so there should be plenty of shots, depending on where the power is set. The fill probe is an Air Arms proprietary attachment that does not have a Foster fitting on its other end. I will have to either rig one up or use a dedicated air tank — shades of 1990!

Magazine

Two 10-shot rotary magazines come with the rifle. The neatest thing about them is they are not advanced by a spring. Instead a hand or pawl advances them each time the rifle is cocked — much like the cylinder on a single action revolver. I’ll have more to say about them when I start shooting the gun.

The magazine does stick up above the top of the receiver, so 2-piece scope rings are necessary. Of course that was taken care of by the selection of the Sportsmatch rings.

Sidelever

The rifle is bolt action and cocked via a sidelever on the right side. The lever cannot be swapped to the other side. The stock is set up for shooters of either right or left hand persuasion, so other than the lever there is some ambidexterity. I will say this — I’m a righty and cocking is easy!

Adjustable trigger

The trigger is adjustable as it should be on a rifle like this. I will probably spend some time playing with the adjustments so I can report on that in detail.

Light weight!

This rifle is a PCP, so it’s going to be light. I selected the heaviest stock you can get and the rifle still only weighs 8 lbs. 7 oz. It feels like less because the stock is so well-proportioned. I remember when single-shot Daystates weighed this much — this is a repeater with lots of features!

Silencer

The silencer is a large can on the end of the barrel and so far it seems to do a wonderful job. I will probably say more when I start shooting it a lot.

Stock

The stock is adjustable in several ways. First, the cheekpiece adjusts up to position your sighting eye in line with the scope. But there is more. The cheekpiece sits on top of a ball joint on the riser whose locking screws can be loosened to allow a wide range of positioning. I plan to take full advantage of this and to report it to you.

The butt pad also slides up and down. I will play with that, as well. And finally the length of pull can be adjusted by installing spacers. The manual doesn’t say where they are found but I think they are inside the butt right now. As the rifle came the pull was 14.5-inches which is ideal for me, but I will also look at adjusting the length of pull for you. Apparently there needs to be a report just dedicated to the adjustments.

Sling swivel studs

There are two studs for detachable sling swivels. One is permanently anchored at the bottom of the butt. The other is on a forearm accessory rail (good for bipods?) and can be repositioned along the rail by loosening a 3mm Allen screw.

Many readers own S510s and are welcome to comment at any time. I’m sure there is a host of stuff that owners know that I probably wouldn’t touch on or even know about. Also — Gene Salvino mentioned to me that Air Arms has made a change to the design of the rifle’s feed pawl that advances the circular magazine. The older style feed pawl can break its spring, and the new one has a coil spring that won’t break. This change was made around May of this year — or at least that’s what Gene remembers. I will show the new part and how it’s installed.

Summary

As you can see this will be a long and involved test of a major rifle, a major new scope and a top-flight pair of adjustable rings. I will put the reports on the scope and rings into their own series but I’ll also link them to this report so you can keep track of everything. Stay tuned, kids, because The Great Enabler is about to embark on a dangerous (to his checkbook) journey!


Stoeger S4000E Black Synthetic Suppressed rifle combo: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Stoeger S4000E MGS
Stoeger S4000E breakbarrel rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • RWS Hobby
  • Gamo Raptor
  • RWS Superdome
  • Beeman Kodiak
  • Firing behavior
  • Trigger pull
  • Cocking effort
  • Overall impressions
  • Summary

Today we look at the power of the Stoeger S4000E. If you remember from Part 1 the .22 caliber rifle I am testing is supposed to get 1,000 f.p.s. with alloy pellets and 800 f.p.s. with light lead pellets. Let’s see.

RWS Hobby

First up are RWS Hobby pellets. This 11.9-grain wadcutter pellet is one of the lightest lead pellets around in .22 caliber. They chambered very snugly and averaged 801 f.p.s., so Stoeger’s velocity claim is upheld.

The variation went from a low of 781 to a high of 838 f.p.s That’s a spread of 57 f.p.s. which is high, but the rifle is brand new. After it settles in the spread will be tighter.

At the average velocity the Hobby generates 16.96 foot-pounds of energy. That’s a nice place to be for accuracy and consistency.

Gamo Raptor

For the synthetic pellet I shot some Gamo Raptors that are no longer being sold. They weigh 9.9 grains. I used them because I don’t have a lot of alloy .22 caliber pellets.

Most fit the breech very tight, but a few fell in with no resistance. The average was 943 f.p.s. with a spread that went from 892 to 960 f.p.s. That’s a whopping 68 f.p.s. and both the slowest and fastest pellet were loose in the breech. At the average velocity the Raptor generated 19.55 foot-pounds. We expect the most energy from the lightest pellet in a spring-piston airgun, and this seems to follow the norm.

RWS Superdome

At 14.5 grains, the RWS Superdome is a pellet I would expect to shoot in this rifle. It’s medium weight and should be among the more accurate pellets — I hope.

The Superdome chambered about perfectly in the S4000E — snug but by no means tight. It averaged 732 f.p.s. with a spread that went from 722 to a high of 738 f.p.s. That’s 16 f.p.s. and, given the large spreads of the first two pellets, an indication that this pellet might be right for the powerplant. At the average velocity Superdomes produced 17.02 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Beeman Kodiak

The final pellet I tested was a 21.14-grain Beeman Kodiak that is no longer made. This pellet averaged 602 f.p.s. at the muzzle and had a velocity range that went from 598 to 606 f.p.s. That’s just 8 f.p.s. While it isn’t that fast, it certainly is consistent! At the average velocity, this heavy dome also produced 17.02 foot-pounds of energy. I find that even more proof that this pellet is well-suited to the S4000E powerplant.

Firing behavior

The rifle is very calm when it fires — and I do mean very calm! The quickness of the cycle tells you that it’s a a gas spring gun, but it is incredibly smooth! There is no buzzing and no face slap that I can detect. The recoil is also quite minimal. It feels like it is performing within its design parameters, which is a very good thing.

Trigger pull

The two-stage trigger breaks at an average 4 lbs. 6 oz. Stage one stops at 1 lb. 5 oz. Stage two does have some travel but not a lot of creep. However, there is a point in the stage two pull where the trigger blade moves back a lot with no increase in effort.

The trigger adjustment affects the length of the stage two pull. Stage two isn’t supposed to have a length in my book; it’s supposed to break like a glass rod. Well, this trigger doesn’t do that. I tried the adjustment but didn’t accomplish much. The trigger seems very useable to me as it came and I guess I will learn more about it in the accuracy tests that start in the next report.

The safety comes on automatically and is very easy to take off. But there is an anti-beartrap mechanism in the system that prevents the rifle from being uncocked except by firing. So if you cock the rifle you must put a pellet in and fire it to uncock the gas spring.

Cocking effort

I removed the fiberoptic front sight tube so it wouldn’t break when I performed the cocking effort test, which consists of putting the muzzle on a spring bathroom scale and pressing down until the rifle is cocked. The effort required was 34 lbs. with some stacking or increase after the halfway point of the barrel arc.

Because the barrel comes back as far as it does, there is a point almost at the end of the barrel arc when the cocking effort becomes harder, just because of geometry. Fortunately you can learn to grab the barrel in such a way that this never comes up. I used two hands to complete the cocking stroke most of the time, though it was very possible to do it with one if I wanted to.

The barrel detent does require a little slap to break open, but it’s really nothing much. I tried breaking it with two hands and couldn’t, but the slap is the lightest I have ever felt.

Overall impressions

I must say, so far this Stoeger S4000E is looking quite nice. The stock handles very well, like it was made for a shooter by a shooter and the firing cycle is smooth and light.

The trigger feels smooth at this point, though shooting for accuracy is where it will really shine. Yes, it’s on the heavier side, but smooth trumps heavy every time!

Summary

I’ll start testing accuracy next. Given the way RWS Superdomes and Beeman Kodiaks performed in this test, they will be tested on targets for sure. I will test with open sights at 10 meters first, and then in the final test I’ll mount the scope and back up to 25 yards.


Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Pro Air Rifle: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

TR5 Target Pro
Air Venturi TR5 Target Pro repeating pellet rifle. This is the one with the target sights.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

This report covers:

  • Today
  • Target Pro
  • Remember this
  • Rear sight
  • Front sight
  • Beware!
  • Accuracy
  • Summary

It’s been many months since we last saw the Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle. Most of the delay is on me, not Pyramyd Air. As I was getting ready to do Part 7 testing on the original gun they announced that the target version with a real rear peep sight and globe front sight would be out soon. So I held off to test that one for you. Well, it took time to come in and I know they rushed the one I’m testing right to me because it doesn’t have the 5-shot accuracy test target they mention in the description. No problem there because they tell you what pellet they shot to get a 3/4-inch group at 10 meters. I can test it just as good as they can, and of course I will.

Today

I’m going to describe the rifle today and then I will test it for you as if I never tested the first one. But the links to the first gun will remain up so people can see where we’ve been and what it took to get to this place. Today’s description will be abbreviated, so go back to Part 1 for more details.

Target Pro

To avoid confusion, there are two different rifles with very nearly the same name. I linked to the one without the target sights in the first paragraph, but that’s not what I’m now testing. The rifle I’m testing today is called the Air Venturi TR5 PRO .177 cal Target Air Rifle. The insertion of the word Pro in the title means they have added a target peep rear sight, a globe front sight that accepts interchangeable inserts and that the rifle comes with a 5-shot test target that they shot at 10 meters. The guarantee is five RWS Hobby pellets in 3/4-inches.

Remember this

The rest of the rifle is identical to the one I tested earlier this year. Let me remind you of some things about that first rifle. First, it shot a lot faster than the advertised velocity of 500 f.p.s. With RWS Hobbys it averaged 548 f.p.s. at the muzzle. I will test the velocity of this one, too, in the next report.

The stock adjusts to 5 positions, giving you a range of pull lengths from 12.75-inches to 14.75-inches. The butt pad also adjusts up and down about 3/4-inches, giving you a 1.5-inch range. I wondered why anyone would want to adjust the buttpad up, and no adult probably would, but for a small a kid it allows them to fit the rifle to their smaller faces so they can see through the peep sight.

The trigger on the first rifle was both light and adjustable. That surprised me, as it was better than what you typically see in a rifle at this price. And it did adjust. A lot of “adjustable” triggers just have placebo screws that do little or nothing. Once again, I plan to measure this new rifle’s trigger, adjust it and give you a complete report.

The accuracy of the first rifle was not that good, until I tried testing each of the chambers in the two clips individually. I found one chamber in one of the two clips that gave me a 0.71-inch five-shot group at 10 meters. Three-quarters of an inch was the accuracy claim, so they made it with that one chamber. Accuracy is a problem with repeaters, so that’s something I have to test with this new rifle.

Rear sight

The rear peep sight comes in an optional box that’s marked Air Arms. This sight is metal and seems well made, though to be at this low price I know it has to come from the Orient. Either that or from the replicator on the Starship Enterprise! It adjusts in both directions with crisp and positive detents. There are also clear reference indicies for both adjustments.

The hole through this sight is wee-teeny, which is a technical term target shooters use for very small things. What I’m telling you is this is a real target peep!

You also get the sporting rear sight that comes with the other TR5. I’m pretty sure I can wind down that rear open sight far enough to use the peep without dismounting the other sight, but I’ll let you know when we get to that.

TR5 Target Pro peep
The peep sight is metal and seems well made.

Front sight

The front sight is a target sight, too. It’s a globe that accepts inserts with a diameter of 0.672-inches (17.07mm).Both sides have legs that anchor the insert inside the globe.

Reader Kevin sent me a set of clear plastic front sight inserts for my Walther LGV and though they measure only 0.633-inches/15.95mm (Walther says they are 0.626-inches/16mm) in diameter they still work. There is a ledge they rest on inside the sight globe and when the screw-in globe piece holds them tight they are secure. The gun comes with just the one black insert shown in the picture.

TR5 Target Pro globe sight
The front globe accepts steel target inserts and the 16mm Walther clear plastic inserts.

Beware!

One thing I need to mention is the legs on the insert are not exactly opposed from each other. In other words they don’t bisect the circle in the middle. And the legs are different thicknesses. Therefore, the inserts can only go into the sight globe one way.

Accuracy

The TR5 comes with an accuracy guarantee of 5 RWS Hobbys in 3/4-inch (0.75-inches) at 10 meters. Now a 3/4-inch group sounds good, but not in 10-meter rifle competition. Three-quarters of an inch is enough to keep the outer diameter of all the pellets inside the 6-ring on a 10-meter rifle target, and since American rules are the pellet scores the highest ring it touches, a 3/4-inch group that’s centered is good enough to average at least a 70 of 100 on that target. That’s not good enough for a target match unless it is informal. It’s good enough to keep all the shots inside the black bull of the target, though, which is all that many people want. I tell you this so you know that the TR5 isn’t a rifle your kids can compete with. But it is a rifle they can have fun with.

TR5 Target Pro target
Three-quarters of an inch looks like this on a 10-meter rifle target.

Other accurate youth target rifles are either hard to operate, like Daisy’s 753 that needs 20 pounds of effort to pump, or they are expensive like Crosman’s $800 Challenger PCP. The TR5 really is the affordable option for parents who don’t want to jump all the way in before knowing whether sis and junior really want to be marksmen, or if T-Ball and soccer are more attractive.

Summary

That’s our start on the TR5 Target Rifle Pro. Next comes velocity testing, plus cocking effort and trigger pull/adjustment. Then comes the accuracy test that I’m really waiting for!


2019 Pyramyd Air Cup: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vendor's Row
There were more vendors than ever this year! They were arranged on streets under pop-ups.

This report covers:

  • Big
  • Downrange
  • Down to the public ranges
  • Repeating crossbow pistol
  • American Airgunner
  • Air-air-air!
  • Gee whiz!
  • Summary

Big

I knew it was going to be good when I first saw it driving up. I saw rows of colorful tents arranged like a country fair. They turned out to be several streets with vendors on each side, and as the morning advanced they were filled with representatives from their companies. We had been told that the Pyramyd Air Cup site was bigger this year and I have to report that it certainly was!

In fact, on day two I was shown the other side of the facility and discovered that what I was on was the small side. The real facility is several times larger than what I had seen on the first day. And that other side includes a clubhouse/event center that has an indoor swimming pool! The banquet Saturday evening was held in that facility.

Camping sites were in the woods on this side of the road and equipped with everything a RV or tent camper could desire. You guys who camped there please correct me if I’m wrong, but I saw hundreds of well-equipped hookups.

The Cup started on a Friday with competitors shooting in both the inaugural benchrest competition and the Gunslynger that has run for many years. There were a large number of competitors on the line when I arrived at 8:30.

Benchrest briefing
I’m looking at half of the benchrest competitors. The other half is behind me. This is the pre-match safety briefing.

Downrange

The benchrest targets were 100 yards downrange and the wind was blowing 10+ m.p.h. with frequent gusting. Everyone was having their pellets blown to the left — sometimes by several inches.

downrange
The range flags were blowing right to left at 100 yards!

Leapers

I stopped by the Leapers booth and saw a new 4-16 scope with improved light transmission. It has an etched-glass reticle and the adjustment knobs are calibrated in the same increments as the reticle lines. This makes adjusting the scope easier, as no mental conversion is required. They are sending one to me to test for you, and I can’t wait. Did I mention that it is very compact — only a little longer than a Bug Buster.

I also saw a new high-tech bipod that I will soon be reviewing for you. This one is really slick and after my experiment with the Daisy Buck a few weeks back, I’m excited to try it

Down to the public ranges

This venue is huge! I bet the public shooting ranges are a quarter-mile from the competition and Vendors’ Row. Pyramyd Air had several range carts to ferry people, so I hopped on one and went down to the public ranges. These are where you can try many different airguns that Pyramyrd Air and some of the other vendors provide. The also had a sales office down there and everything they sell was marked down by 20 percent with free shipping! But I also saw some things that hadn’t yet been seen by the public.

Repeating crossbow pistol

The first new thing was a 6-shot repeating crossbow pistol from Europe. It is way cool and so new that it doesn’t have a name yet, but it sells in Europe under the name Steambow. I was surprised by how accurate it is and also by the power — 16+ foot-pounds!

Steambow
This crossbow pistol is every bit as much fun as it appears in this picture. BB wants to to test one! Heck — he wants to own one!

The real news with the Steambow, however, is not the pistol. There is also a full-sized crossbow that is cocked buy CO2 pressure! I saw it cocked and shot several times, and I even shot it myself a couple times. It is supposed to be highly accurate. I don’t know how long we will have to wait to see this reach the market but I can tell you that Pyramyd Air is working on it as fast as possible.

big Steambow
The full-sized bow is cocked via CO2 pressure. This is a bow that will compete with top-quality crossbows like the Sub-1 and the Ravin.

There is more than one version of the full-sized bow coming to market, so there will be more to say as the details are refined.

American Airgunner

The American Airgunner television show was at the Cup and host Rossi Morreale was competing in several events. When he wasn’t doing that he was interviewing people all around the event. You’ll get to see parts of the Cup online and in next year’s show.

Air-air-air!

The guns at the Cup run on air and Pyramyd had several of their compressors going all the time, filling large tanks. Even so, they were hard-pressed to keep up with the demands of so many shooters.

compressor
These Air Venturi compressors were going most of the day, filling dozens of large carbon fiber tanks.

Gee whiz!

I was at the Pyramyd Air support tent, talking to Gene Salvino, whom many of you know, when he showed me something wonderful. Gene works in the Tech department fixing airguns, and he tells me his biggest problem is fixing the guns that have pellets stuck in their barrels. He told me tales of 16 and even 32 pellets jammed in the bore of thousand-dollar PCPs!

To get them out he has created an ingenious tool that I want to show you. He took a steel Dewey cleaning rod that was broken and he threaded one end with a 6-32 thread behind a sharp point. He chucks the other end of the rod in an electric drill and goes in usually from the muzzle, drilling into the head of each stuck pellet in turn. The rifle is in a padded vise while he’s doing this.

He says you can hear a change in the drill motor when the rod has penetrated the head of a pellet. He then pulls on the drill chuck and that pellet comes right out! Keep it up until the bore is clean.

PELLET REMOVAL TOOL
Gene Salvino passes this tool along to you readers with his complements. Make the rod as long as possible, but he also has a shorter one for jobs when the pellets are closer to the muzzle — to keep the rod from flopping around inside the bore.

Summary

This was just the first day of the Cup and I already saw enough for several blogs. On Saturday I taught some classes to the public on how to mount a scope and how to sight one in after it is mounted.

There was more to see, more to do, more contests to enter and more vendors to talk to this year. The new venue is much larger and more accommodating to the needs of the event. The event now has plenty of room to grow. They completely shut down all firearms activity for this weekend and we had the full run of the place.

I will report on the Cup again this week, but I’ll give it a couple days.


“It’ll hit like a .22!”

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Tough!
  • Sheridan Blue Streak
  • Flattening a ball
  • Splatology
  • Discussion
  • Universal law
  • So what?
  • Oh, fudge!

When I was a boy in the mid-1950s, that was the catch phrase of the day, “Pump it up 20 or 30 times and it will hit like a .22!” The people who said such things were all older than me and many of them were adults, so of course I knew it was true. Pump that Benjamin rifle 20 or 30 times and it will hit like a .22. It had to —right? I mean, if you pumped it just 5 times it would go through both sides of a tin can, which in my day was made of steel plate. The title tin was a holdover from the early 1800s when tin-plated steel was used for the can’s body and a lead and tin solder was used to seal the seam of the can.

When I made cans at National Can in Sunnyvale, California in the 1960s, there was no tin anywhere in the can. The steel was sheet steel and the seams were soldered with lead — I know because I cut the steel and kept the solder baths that sealed them filled and fluxed. If the contents of the can were going to be acidic, such as tomatoes or soda pop, we sprayed the inside of the can’s body with a lacquer coating to keep the contents separated from the steel.

Tough!

The point is, those cans back then were tough! They were nothing like the thin aluminum cans we see today. They served us well as makeshift chronographs. A powerful BB gun could shoot through one side of a can. Benjamin’s 30/30 (1962-1976) advertised that it could shoot through both sides of a 5-gallon steel pail!

Benjamin 30-30
Benjamin’s 30-30 was a powerful CO2 BB gun.

Benjamin 30-30 pail
Benjamin touted it as being able to shoot through both sides of a 5 gallon steel pail. That was the criteria for power in those days.

Sheridan Blue Streak

Sheridan said it in a different way. They showed “controlled penetration” in wood. One-inch, to be exact. They did mention the wood was soft pine, and indeed a Supergrade or Blue/Silver Streak will penetrate that far if the wood is truly soft. Hard pine is a different story, and we discovered that to our chagrin!

Sheridan wood
Sheridan ran this ad for many years. This one is taken from the 1956 edition of Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World. by gun writer W.H.B. Smith.

The point is — we didn’t have chronographs in those days. Chronographs were only owned by big laboratories and took several people to operate. So we did the best we could to determine power, and that turned out to be penetration.

Flattening a ball

A century and more earlier, the criterion for determining airgun power was how flat the ball would become when shot against a hard steel surface.

flattening a ball
This drawing appeared in the November 6, 1824 edition of the London Mechanics Register. It is a drawing of the lead ball fired from a Perkins Steam Gun against an iron plate. It was the way to show power almost 200 years ago — a time before chronographs and cameras existed. From Gas, Air and Spring Guns  of the  World.

Roughly 60 years later an airgun manufacturer used the same method to show how the power regulation screw on their guns that controlled the hammer spring tension affected power in a Giffard-type rifle.

flattening balls
This photo is from a CO2 gun’s advertisement. It shows how the power of the gun can be controlled. From Gas, Air and Spring Guns  of the  World.

Splatology

If you are a long-time reader of this blog you may remember that we also talked about this method of determining airgun velocity. It is a practice that airgun maker, Gary Barnes, called Splatology.

Splatology refers to the observation of pure lead balls that are fired against a rigid plate — producing what Barnes referred to as “splats.” He rediscovered what the airgun makers from history had known — that lead balls deform along rigid parameters as their impact velocity increases. But Barnes had access to something the ancients never did — a chronograph. He could also know the velocity of the splat to within a very precise amount. And he did something amazing with that information.

splatology

Barnes created a physical splat graph of lead balls that had deformed at precise velocities. It was two boards that charted the deformation of balls impacting at incremental velocities from very low speed to as fast as the splats held together. Any higher and the ball was reduced to lead dust and particles too small to be of any value.

splatology board 1
This first board takes balls from 0 f.p.s. to 452 f.p.s.

splatology board 2
This second board takes balls from 429 f.p.s. to almost 700 f.p.s. At that velocity the balls break into small fragments and this process can’t be used any more.

Discussion

This report began as an informal statement, “Pump it up 20 or 30 times and it will hit like a .22!” That was completely untrue, but in the day when it was said nobody ever challenged it. So it became accepted as fact.

In truth it is nearly impossible for a pellet gun that shoots a diabolo pellet to ever come close to the power of a .22 rimfire cartridge. A standard speed .22 long rifle cartridge can launch a 40-grain lead bullet at between 1,050 and 1,100 f.p.s. That generates a muzzle energy of between 98 and 108 foot-pounds. What do we know about smallbore airgun energy? We know that the AirForce Condor in .25 caliber can produce about 105 foot-pounds at the muzzle when it shoots the heaviest diabolo pellets currently available. And that level of energy has only been possible in the last 5-10 years. Before then, no smallbore air rifle produced anything like that kind of energy.

The Benjamin pump guns people were talking about in the 1950s never got above 20 foot-pounds and even that was a real stretch. Fourteen foot pounds was more like it.

Universal law

Barnes also discovered that the size of the lead ball made no difference in determining how it deformed. The form of the splat was a constant regardless of the size of the ball that created it. That turns out to be as important to determining velocity as astronomers’ “standard candle” is for determining distance.

So what?

If you have to ask you aren’t getting it. The reason this is important is because people are unreliable sources for accurate information, and you can include me in that statement. That’s why I show you the targets I shoot. It’s also why I often shoot 10-shot groups instead of 5. And I still make a lot of mistakes. What I try not to do is promulgate beliefs because they sound good or, “That’s just the way it’s always been.” It’s why in 2011 I tested Velocity versus accuracy and determined that supersonic flight does not affect a pellet’s accuracy adversely. I still hear people saying that it does and I don’t bother correcting them because the 11-part report has been online for 8-1/2 years. You don’t have to believe it, but I did tell you what I did to test it. None of the good old boys who said overpumping a Benjamin will make it shoot like a .22 did that.

Oh, fudge!

In reading Part 11 of the velocity report mentioned above I discovered that I was planning to do even more with it. Well, no time like the present!


Beeman P17 air pistol: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman P17
Beeman P17 air pistol.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Sight-in
  • The test
  • Finale Match Light
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • R10 Match Pistol
  • Summary

I’m flying to the Pyramyd Air Cup today, so I won’t be as quick to answer your questions.

Today I test the Beeman P17 pistol for accuracy at 10 meters with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight mounted. I have to say, the sight installed in just a minute and I slid it as far forward as the pistol’s dovetail base permits. That leaves plenty of room for the hand to pump the gun.

Beeman P17 pistol with sight
My Beeman P17 with the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight installed.

Sight in

My first two shots were from 12 feet to ensure the pellets landed in the trap. After that I moved back to 10 meters and fired three more to refine the sight picture. It was mostly a question of how far the sight adjustments moved the pellet impact, which is farther than a typical scope’s adjustments.

The test

I shot from 10 meters with the pistol rested on a sandbag. I shot 5 shots per pellet and target. That is the same as I did in Part 4, and I also shot the same pellets in the same order.

You may recall that none of my groups in Part 4 were very good. I said I was either having a bad day or the open sights on my P17 are a bit hinky. Today we find out.

Finale Match Light

First to be tested were the Finale Match Light pellets. In Part 4 five of them went into 0.712-inches at 10 meters. Today five went into 0.509-inches. I think that’s a significant improvement, but we’ll know more after seeing what the other pellets do.

Beeman P17 Finale Light group
Five H&N Finale Match Light pellets made this 0.509-inch group at 10 meters.

Air Arms Falcon

Next to be tested were five Air Arms Falcon dome. Being domes they don’t cut a round a hole so their groups appear smaller. but this is still a good one at just 0.547-inches between centers. In Part 4 five grouped in 0.906-inches, so this is a real improvement.

Beeman P17 Falcon group
Five Falcon domed pellets went into 0.547-inches.

Meisterkugeln Rifle

The next pellet I tested was the RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter. In Part 4 five of them went into 1.142-inches at 10 meters. In this test five are in 0.394 — about one-third the size of the Part 4 group! Gentlemen, I think we have discovered the secret!

Beeman P17 Meisterkugeln group
Five RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets made this 0.394-inch group at 10 meters.

Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets

Next to be tried were five Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets. They went into 0.769-inches at 10 meters. Last time with open sights five of them went into 0.983-inches, so we are still doing better.

Beeman P17 Qiang Yuan Olympic group
Five Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets went into 0.769-inches at 10 meters.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

The next pellet I tested was the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutter. In part 4 five went into 1.035-inches at 10 meters. This time five made a 0.572-inch group at 10 meters. That’s almost half the size!

Beeman P17 Sig group
Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into a 0.572-inch group at 10 meters.

R10 Match Pistol

The last pellet I tried was the RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. I had high hopes for this one in Part 4, and also that they would revive in this test! But, alas, the R10 didn’t deliver. Five pellets went into 0.784-inches at 10 meters. In Part 4 five went into 0.966-inches, so the test with the dot sight is more accurate with all 6 pellets, which is what I wanted to find out.

Beeman P17 R10 group
Five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 0.784-inches at 10 meters.

Clearly, the open sights caused the problems I had with accuracy in Part 4, because today all 6 pellets were considerably more accurate. Just as clearly, the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight is a wonderful addition to my stable of sights and a perfect solution for the P17!

Summary

I’m done testing the Beeman P17, but but I’m not finished with this series. The next step is to look at a Beeman P3 that costs $200 more, and compare it to the P17. I have always wanted to do this. Stay tuned!