Beeman P3 air pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman P3 pistol
Beeman P3 air pistol.

Beeman P17 Part 1
Beeman P17 Part 2
Beeman P17 Part 3
Beeman P17 Part 4
Beeman P17 Part 5
Beeman P3 Part 1

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
  • Discussion
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Thanks to 45 Bravo and Iain
  • Summary

Growing larger

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.

Discussion

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!

Cocking effort

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?

 

Trigger pull

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.

 

Summary

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.

25 thoughts on “Beeman P3 air pistol: Part 2

  1. Just because this review project wasn’t large enough already, how do the P3/HW40 compare to Weihrauch’s top-of-the-line offering, the HW45 (aka Beeman P2)?

    I believe there’s a new Target model with a single Picatinny/Weaver-style slot milled into the dovetail area…


  2. B.B.,

    I take it that after overhauling the seals you will have to repeat the velocity tests you just did to re-establish the baseline data. From the above series it appears the deep seated pellets are a little faster and a little more consistent which might give better results in the accuracy test.

    It would be nice to have a side by side teardown of the two so that the reason for the trigger pull disparity can be seen.

    Siraniko


    • I’ll second that request Siraniko – would be interesting to see why the original trigger is crisp and the copy is not.

      I suspect that it is how “square” and smooth the mating parts are.

      Hank



  3. On the chance that they are over sprung,… I wonder if anyone has ever tried a lighter spring and found no drop in fps? Also,.. I wonder if Vortek makes a spring kit?

    Interesting on the trigger differences. I would like to see the mechanical differences that would explain that.

    Good Day to all,……. Chris




      • Chris,

        I was considering drilling away a bit of the piston on my P17 to see if I could reduce the cocking force to a more comfortable level for plinking without seriously affecting the velocity. Never got to that project and sold both the pistols to a co-worker who was very anxious to have them.

        Still curious, but not $80 (pistol, taxes and shipping) curious to try it. I have half an ear open listening for a cheap P17 that I could refurbish and try the modification.

        Hank


        • Hank,

          I remember that. Excellent idea. Drill and tap,.. adjustable plug,…. etc.. For a difficult pumper,… I would (1st) be inclined to fashion a,………….. ” leverage enhancement device”. Chamber volume increase and lower power with easier cocking effort would my 2nd approach. Then again,… I am not sure that I would put up with either.

          Chris


      • Cobalt,

        I took the day off work and stood at the chalkboard the entire day writing “The P3 is a pneumatic, not a springer!” 😉

        I then went to the front corner of the classroom and sat the rest of the day with my dunce cap on. Hopefully,… my posting privileges will not be suspended due to my (obvious) lack of paying attention to lessons.

        Fingers crossed,…. Chris

        As an appeal strategy (if needed),….. I plan on going with the proven RR defense of only having a half cup of coffee prior to posting. 🙂


  4. Interesting comment ‘from the horse’s mouth’ regarding the production of the Chinese copies. I had always assumed, as I think was suggested in a reply on part 1, that Beeman had provided some input into the design and thus had some rights to get it produced themselves. I can’t see it mentioned on the PA site, but the UK distributor of the P17, Sportsmarketing, certainly list among its features “German engineered and designed”, which does perhaps suggest rather more than just blatant copying and reverse engineering.

    I suppose we should be grateful that they don’t mark the guns ‘use WEIHRAUCH pellets’ in suitably confusing font sizes.

    I’m glad you found my input into part 1 so useful – thank you.

    Regards,

    Iain


  5. BB,

    OK, that’s it! I will not sit still (as if I ever did) why you compare this cheap piece of stolen Chinese junk to an Izzy and have the audacity to state that this cheap piece of stolen Chinese junk has the better trigger!

    The only thing I can possibly say in your defense is you may never have bothered to adjust the “creep” out of your Izzy trigger. Mine can be adjusted seven ways from Sunday. As far as “creep”, I have never encountered any in mine.

    Do not get me wrong. I am not saying the Izzy is the pinnacle of SSP design. Many bemoan the Izzy’s “raw” appearance. I for one have a deep appreciation for rugged, well built equipment that can take much rough handling and still function beautifully.

    There are still many out there that think the Tiger tank was the best tank of WWII.


    • RidgeRunner,

      The P3 has the glass rod trigger breaking at just a hair under a pound. The Chinese P17 has the long travel second stage before breaking at 2 pounds and 4.5 ounces. The German trigger seems easier to adjust than the Chinese version from what I can understand.

      Siraniko


      • Ooops! My bad! Too early with not enough coffee will be my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

        That does not surprise me. The Chinese have been stealing designs and making cheap reproductions for many years. Snow Peak seems to be a little better at it than most. Perhaps this is why the Diana and Beretta Groups are rebranding them.


  6. Vana2 ,

    DO NOT DRILL the piston . You will increase chamber volume and velocity will be lost . I would only do this on a cheapo P17 . A good machinist could cup the face of the piston to help reduce cocking effort. This will cause loss of power due to increased chamber volume.


    • Gene,

      Yes, only on the cheap P17!!!

      Agreed, removing metal from the piston will increase the chamber volume; reduce the cocking force and velocity. I was willing to accept a reduction in velocity to make the pistol easier to cock – figured that 300 – 350 fps is adequate for knocking over tins at 30 feet. If I could reduce the cocking force by 25 – 30 % then I would call that good!

      I have a lathe and can cup the poston face – an excellent suggestion but I was going to try another approach,..

      The solid aluminum piston is long enough that I could drill and tap it ( say, 1/4-20 thread; directly opposite the transfer port) and use different lengths of a threaded aluminum plug to change the volume of the compression chamber. That way I could graph the cocking force to velocity relationship and chose a value that I liked. If things didn’t turn out the way I wanted I would have the option of plugging the cavity completely to return the pistol to (near) original specs.

      Would have been a fun project, still wish I had kept one of the pistols to try it.

      Thanks for the comment Gene!

      Hank



  7. Vana2 ,

    Good idea on the set screw , gives You some adjust-ability. They are a hard gun to cock , really takes the fun out of long range sessions. The levers on a IZH46M or FWB103 are far superior for that reason. I always have liked the Ambi grips on the P3 , good gun to practice your weak hand shooting with .


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