by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman P17
Beeman P17 air pistol.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Where we are
  • But wait — there’s more!
  • Velocity
  • The test
  • RWS Hobby — seated flush
  • Hobbys seated deep
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated flush
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated deep
  • Falcon pellets seated flush
  • Falcon pellets seated deep
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Construction of the pump cylinder
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Where we are

I told you that this report was going to be done backwards. Parts One and Two were guest blogs by reader 45Bravo dealing with repairing the two most common faults these pistols have. Today we start looking at the pistol’s performance. I changed the photo up top for this report because if you buy a new Beeman P17 pistol it will come with fiberoptic sights, front and rear. Why the makers feel the need for sights like these is a real mystery, because this pistol is not meant for hunting. This is a paper target pistol and a plinker, pure and simple. Many shooters will no doubt install a dot sight on their pistols, so I will test it with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight that I have been reporting on.

But wait — there’s more!

After I thoroughly test this P17, I have also acquired a Beeman P3 that I will also test for you. That is the air pistol the P17 copies. This series will be a complete examination of this remarkable single stroke pneumatic air pistol.

Velocity

The P17 is advertised to produce 410 f.p.s. We know that was tested with a lightweight pellet, so I will test it with the RWS Hobby which weighs 7 grains. Then I will test it with a couple other pellets — just because everyone wants to know. Let’s get started.

The test

Several P17 owners mentioned that pellets went faster when seated deep. So I conducted each velocity test with 5 pellets seated flush and five seated deep.

It’s fairly easy to seat pellet deep in the P17, for there is a straight path in the upper slide that aligns with the barrel breech. I use an Allen wrench to push the pellet in, so the seating depth was never exact.

RWS Hobby — seated flush

Five Hobbys seated flush averaged 389 f.p.s. The spread ranged from a low of 385 to a high of 396. That’s a spread of 11 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Hobby generates 2.35 foot-pounds. In case you wondered why I said the P17 is not for hunting — that’s why.

Hobbys seated deep

When Hobbys were seated deep my pistol averages 401 f.p.s. That’s 12 f.p.s. faster than when seated flush. The spread for deep-seated pellets went from 395 to 406 f.p.s., which is a spread of 11 f.p.s. At the average velocity Hobbys generate 2.50 foot-pounds at the muzzle. In the case of Hobbys, deep-seating added 0.15 foot-pounds to the energy, which isn’t that much.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated flush

I tried Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets next. Pyramyd Air no longer carries them, in case you are searching for them, but I have quite a few on hand and have found them to sometimes be exceptionally accurate.
This pellet averaged 451 f.p.s. when seated flush. The velocity spread when from 447 to 453 f.p.s., so a total difference of 6 f.p.s. At the average velocity seated flush the energy was 2.37 foot-pounds.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated deep

When the same pellet was seated deep the average climbed to 459 f.p.s. That’s a gain of 8 f.p.s. When seated deep the energy climbed to 2.46 foot-pounds, a 0.09 foot-pound jump. All of the additional effort is hardly worth it, don’t you think?

Falcon pellets seated flush

The final pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon dome. And right here I will make a point. Both the Hobbys and the Sig Ballistic Alloy pellets had some resistance when pushing them into the breech. The Hobbys are just large while the Sig pellets are made of tin that is harder than pure lead. In contrast, the Falcon pellets push in easily. Let’s see if that has any impact on the velocity.

Seated flush the Falcons averaged 401 f.p.s. That’s correct — even though they weigh more than Hobbys, they go faster. The spread went from 398 to 402 f.p.s. — a difference of just 4 f.p.s. That’s a little more than one-third the variation that we saw with the other two pellets. At the average velocity the flush-seated Falcon generates 2.62 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Falcon pellets seated deep

As I said, it was very easy to seat the Falcon pellets deep. They averaged 407 f.p.s. that way — an increase of 6 f.p.s. over seating them flush. The spread went from 404 to 415 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 11 f.p.s. At the average velocity the deep-seated Falcon produces 2.7 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Deep-seating gains you 0.08 foot pounds or 6 f.p.s. Big woop!

Cocking effort

To measure the effort needed to cock (pump) the P17, I put a dry folded-up washcloth on my bathroom scale then opened the pistol and laid the top of the gun on the cloth. I slowly pushed down on the pistol grip until the top closed and the pistol was cocked.

It took 35 pounds of effort to cock the gun. For the velocity it produces, that’s a lot. It’s also why people love the IZH 46M that cocks with 20 lbs. of effort, and gets another 100 f.p.s. velocity with similar pellets.

Trigger pull

The two-stage P17 trigger requires one pound to go through stage one and it breaks at 2 lbs. 4.5 ounces. Stage two has some travel that can be felt and then it stops. At the end the break is reasonably crisp.

Construction of the pump cylinder

The pump cylinder that serves as the compression chamber is made of steel. The piston body and the rod that connects it to the upper slide are both made of aluminum. I’m telling you this because I will compare this pistol to the P3 in a later report.

Discussion

This particular pistol is slightly slower than the advertised velocity but not enough to worry about. I don’t think the pistol needs to be resealed, though now we certainly know how to do it, don’t we?

Also, deep-seating pellets doesn’t add that much to the velocity. I wouldn’t do it anyway because it’s one more step in the loading process that, with a single stroke, is already pretty busy.

Summary

We now know the power of this P17. The next step will be to test the accuracy using the open sights. This pistol has plain sights with no fiberoptics, so it will be easy to shoot it accurately. Stay tuned!