Beeman P3 air pistol: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- P3 first
- Disassembling the P3
- Springs installed differently
- Additional spring
- Valve assembly
- The difference between the P3 and the P17
- The finger pin fix
- Why did the pistol leak?
- How did I do? — the test
- Cocking effort
Today I will tell you the story of rebuilding both the Beeman P3 air pistol and the Beeman P17 pistol. Last Friday I resealed both of them and took a lot of video footage — 30 different clips in all. I’m still editing that footage and I plan to show you everything later in this series, but today I want to talk about the reseal jobs and also about the differences between the P3 and P17. I will also test both airguns today and compare them to where they were before the reseal. This will be an interesting report.
I chose the P3 to reseal first because I wanted to see what made its trigger so much better than the P17 trigger. I did find out, plus I found out a lot more that I will tell you. Let’s get started.
Disassembling the P3
I filmed everything I did while working on the P3, but that wasn’t much of a distraction. I had the first two reports from 45Bravo on my laptop in front of me so I could follow what he said to do. That really helped a number of times. I referred to his photo of the assembled trigger many times!
The P3 came apart easily and exactly how 45Bravo said. However, when it came to the trigger parts I did a few things differently. I disassembled more than what he said to and in doing so I discovered a couple things.
Springs installed differently
In my P3 the tail of the coil spring that 45Bravo describes as the sear spring was tucked into the bottom of the left grip — not the top of the right grip.
45Bravo showed us how to tuck the tail of the sear spring up into the top of the right grip panel when assembling the pistol.
I assembled the tail of the P3 sear spring the same way that it was when it came apart (down inside the left grip panel) and it has functioned fine every time during testing. Later when I disassembled the P17 the same spring was in the same place as the P3, so I assembled it the same, too.
While removing the trigger and hammer parts from the P3 I discovered an additional wire spring that 45Bravo didn’t mention or show. It’s inside the hammer (the part 45Bravo says looks like the number 7) and if you don’t remove the pin that holds the hammer and trigger linkage together you will probably never even see it. I did remove that pin, and when I assembled it into the gun again, I noticed that the pin didn’t go through the ends of this wire spring. That was when I noticed it. So I photographed it for you.
The rest of the disassembly went according to 45Bravo’s instructions. I will say, however, that his naming of what constitutes the sear doesn’t include all the parts involved. I found the trigger to be a multi-lever affair — or at least that is how it seems to me. And that will become important when I discuss the P17 trigger.
There are two o-rings that need to be replaced in the firing valve. The smaller one (006) that fits the end of the valve is straightforward and goes on and off easily. The larger one (009) that fits just below the threads of the brass valve cap is far more difficult to remove and replace. I probably spent 10-15 minutes fooling with this o-ring and after I got it on it didn’t want to seat in the o-ring channel in the valve. This is a MAJOR difference between the P17 and P3! The P3 valve has a machined groove for that o-ring, but the P17 doesn’t. I’ll get to the P17 valve in a moment, but first let’s stay with the P3.
It took me at least 10 minutes to get the o-ring into its groove and after I did it sat high. It would never go back inside the valve that way. Then I rotated it on the valve and it seated down into its groove. Apparently it had twisted several times while being pushed onto the valve and needed to relax.
After sliding the o-ring (arrow) over the coiled valve return spring it had twisted and didn’t seat in the channel on the brass valve to the left of it. This is the P17 valve and isn’t exactly the same as the P3 valve.
Once on the valve, the larger o-ring sat proud of its channel and wouldn’t go back into the valve body. Rotating it made it untwist and sit down in the groove. This is the P17 valve, but the same thing happened with the P3 valve.
The remainder of the P3 assembly went by the book. In all it took me 90 minutes to disassemble, exchange the o-rings and assemble the P3. And a lot of that time was taken up by the filming I did. I shot 30 clips in all. After assembly I tested the pistol, but let me tell you about the P17 disassembly and reseal first.
The difference between the P3 and the P17
The major difference between the two air pistols is the parts in the P17 trigger and hammer are rough and not finished well. Every surface is just rougher than on the same P3 parts. There was no one part that I could identify as the culprit for the trigger not being as smooth. I think they are all to blame.
The P17 had some major difficulties for me that I only appreciated after having disassembled and assembled the P3. The “fingers” (read 45Bravo’s description in Part 2) were particularly bothersome. I had to completely disassemble the pistol a second time because after the first assembly it would no hold air when pumped. I therefore had to remove those three fingers a second time and they were a major pain to assemble again. They are so tight in the slots they fit in that aligning them to accept the two crosspins is a bear!So I came up with a fix.
The finger pin alignment fix
To get the fingers aligned in their slots, I put them in one in at a time and then inserted the large crosspin to hold that one in place. Slide (with a plastic hammer!) the next finger in and tap in the crosspin through its hole to hold it. And a third time to finish the job.
I used the large crosspin to align the fingers in their grooves on the P17 compression chamber. Once aligned this way the crosspin was tapped out so the chamber could be installed back in the pistol frame.
Why did the pistol leak?
After assembly the P17 leaked as it was bing pumped and had to be completely stripped again. Why? Because the large (009) o-ring on the valve had torn in assembly. Let me show you why. This is another major difference between the P17 and P3.
As I was installing the new o-ring (they send several with the overhaul kit) I noticed the small brass collar that is separate from the rest of the valve. THERE IS NO O-RING GROOVE ON THIS VALVE!!!!! The Chinese have made this thin brass collar take the place of machining an o-ring groove.
This is an ingenious design because as long as it is inside the valve, the o-ring is contained between the collar and the rest of the brass. It makes it a little more difficult to install, but as long as you know how it works you can pay attention to it and get the o-ring where it needs to be. This time the valve went together easily and the gun was assembled correctly. I replaced the breech seal last of all on both pistols.
How did I do? — the test
First the Beeman P3. I shot RWS Hobbys to test the velocity the same as in Part 2. Here are the average results
Part 2………After overhaul
370 f.p.s……….402 f.p.s.
Part 2………After overhaul
378 f.p.s……….412 f.p.s.
Now the Beeman P17. I last tested the P17 for velocity in Part 3 of the P17 test. The link is at the top of this report.
Part 2………After overhaul
389 f.p.s……….404 f.p.s.
Part 2………After overhaul
401 f.p.s……….388 f.p.s.
I don’t know why the P17 dropped in velocity from deep-seating, but it was very consistent. The low was 383 and the high was 395, so only 12 f.p.s. between them.
Before the overhaul the P3 was shooting a little slow and the P17 was on the slow end of where it should be. The P3 gained considerably from the reseal and the P17 stayed about the same.
Both triggers remain where they were before the overhaul, so no changes from this work. I haven’t got a clue what could be done to improve my P17 trigger, short of smoothing every part in the trigger/hammer system. That’s too much for for a trigger that’s not that bad as it is.
37 lbs……..28 lbs.
35 lbs……..39 lbs.
Next I plan to shoot the P3 for accuracy. I will remount the Millett red dot sight that came on the gun for this test and shoot at 10 meters. Stay tuned!