Beeman P3 air pistol: Part 2
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Growing larger
- But wait — there’s more!
- RWS Hobby — seated flush
- Hobbys seated deep
- Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated flush
- Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated deep
- Falcons seated flush
- Falcons seated deep
- Cocking effort
- Trigger pull
- Thanks to 45 Bravo and Iain
This report is growing into a major one, and in a good way. Thanks to a two-part guest blog from 45Bravo we have now seen how to repair the two most common faults when either the Beeman P3 or the Beeman P17 air pistols fail. And I tested my P17 for you in the usual way. I even mounted the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight on that pistol and tested it again for accuracy at 10 meters. We learned that BB does a little better with a dot sight than with open sights — especially if the dot sight is that one!
But wait — there’s more!
After thoroughly testing the P17 I then started testing a Beeman P3. In Part One of that report I compared the P3 to the P17. This is the first time I have seen such a comparison made, and I think it will stand for a long time.
Then reader Iain commented several times and we all learned a lot more about both airguns. To those with a conspiracy theory that Weihrauch is having the Chinese make the P3 for them, I can tell you that I spoke to Hans Weihrauch, Jr. at the Pyramyd Air Cup a few weeks ago and asked this same question — or one very much like it. They most definitely are not doing that. Of course Iain showed us where the guns are marked with their respective countries of origin, but Hans was adamant that the Chinese copied the P3 without his permission. I tried to explain to you why he didn’t go to court over it, and, although my story was made up, I bet it is not far from the truth. In the grand scheme of things it just wasn’t worth it. And, as things have transpired over time, the Chinese bought the Beeman company and Weihrauch still makes the HW40 almost two decades later. So the P17 and the P3 have their respective owners.
Now that we know a lot about the histories of both air pistols it’s time to put this P3 to the test. And if, for some reason, it isn’t where I think it should be I could just rebuild it like 45 Bravo taught us. Since this report is a comparison, I’m going to shoot the exact same pellets in the exact same way that I did for the P17 in Part 3. Here we go.
RWS Hobby — seated flush
First to be tested were RWS Hobby pellets seated flush with the end of the breech — the way you would normally seat them. In the P3 they averaged 370 f.p.s. In the P17 the same pellet seated the same way averaged 389 f.p.s.
At the average velocity Hobbys generate 2.13 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. The spread ranged from 365 to 377 f.p.s. — a difference of 12 f.p.s.
Hobbys seated deep
Next I seated the Hobbys deep with the aid of an Allen wrench. That way they averaged 378 f.p.s. — a gain of 8 f.p.s. over the flush-seated pellets. At this velocity they generated 2.21 foot-pounds at the muzzle. In the P17 this pellet seated the same way averaged 401 f.p.s. The spread for this pellet in the P3 went from 375 to 384 f.p.s. — a difference of 9 f.p.s.
Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated flush
Next up was the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet that Pyramyd Air no longer carries. Seated flush they averaged 430 f.p.s. The spread ranged from 427 to 433 — a difference of only 6 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 2.16 foot pounds at the muzzle. In the P17 this same pellet seated flush averaged 451 f.p.s.
Sig Match Ballistic Alloy — seated deep
Seating the Sig pellets deep increased the average to 445 f.p.s. At that speed the pellet generates 2.31 foot pounds at the muzzle. The spread went from a low of 444 to as high of 447 f.p.s., a difference of only 3 f.p.s.! The P17, in contrast, shot this pellet seated the same way at an average 459 f.p.s.
Falcons seated flush
The final pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon dome. They seated much easier into the breech than the other two pellets. Seated flush they averaged 381 f.p.s. At that speed they generate 2.36 foot pounds at the muzzle.The spread went from a low of 377 to as high of 384 f.p.s. so 6 f.p.s. The P17 doing the same thing averaged 401 f.p.s.
Falcons seated deep
When they were seated deep Falcons averaged 388 f.p.s. The low was 386 and the high was 390 f.p.s. So the spread was 4 f.p.s. At the average velocity the pellet generated 2.45 foot pounds. In the P17 under the same conditions this pellet averaged 407 f.p.s.
By now you have figured out that this P3 is a little tired. Wehrauch says to expect 410 f.p.s. from their P3, so 370 with a 7-grain Hobby is a little slow. But we know what to do about that — don’t we?
No, don’t try to talk me out of it. I already ordered the new seals. In fact I ordered two new sets of seals, and guess what that means? More fun for you and me. I plan to overhaul both guns and do a side-by-side velocity retest. Yippie!
To measure the effort needed to cock (pump) the P3, 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 had been concerned about not pushing against that Millett red dot sight that was mounted on the gun when I got it, but now that I’m going to overhaul the gun the sight came off. So the cocking test was exactly the same as what I did with the P17. I slowly pushed down on the pistol grip until the top closed and the pistol was cocked.
It took 37 pounds of effort to cock/pump this pistol, where it took 35 pounds to cock the P17. I was certain the P3 cocked easier, but the scale doesn’t lie. Well, actually it’s just a cheap old spring bathroom scale and both guns probably cock/pump with the same effort. I know for a fact that the thing never cuts me any slack!
For the velocity the P3 produces, that’s a lot of effort. I hope to see some more velocity after the overhaul. I think just replacing the breech seal would get a nice gain, but why stop there?
Now we come to the biggest difference between the P3 and the P17. The P17 trigger has a lot of travel in the second stage. The P3 trigger has none. It’s a glass rod that simply snaps. And how much effort do you have to provide to get it to snap? How about one pound? It’s 11 ounces to the end of stage one and 15.8 ounces to sear release. That’s every time! Even the IZH 46 and 46M, though their triggers can be adjusted lighter than this, have some creep in stage 2. The P3 has none, as in zero, nada, null! In sharp contrast my P17 trigger requires 16 ounces for stage one and 2 lbs. 4.5 ounces for sear release. That isn’t too bad, but it cannot compare to the P3 trigger.
Thanks to 45 Bravo and Iain
I want to thank both 45Bravo and Iain for their contributions to this report. I have learned so much about this pistol’s design and these two pistols in particular.
To this point we have seen how to disassemble and repair the two most common faults this air pistol has, and that includes overhauling it after many years of service has flattened and hardened its seals. We have seen the difference between the two pistols, which aren’t that great for the most part. We have then seen the P17 tested full and we are now testing the P3 in the same way. Over the course of testing both guns we have seen that they could stand some freshening up and that is now planned for both of them. Like I said at the start — this is turning into a wonderful report series.