AirForce Edge 10-meter rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

AirForce Edge
AirForce Edge

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Back to the Edge
  • Changeover
  • Muzzle extension replaced
  • HOWEVER
  • Loud!
  • RWS R10 7.7 grains
  • H&N Finale Match Rifle
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Discussion
  • Shot count
  • What now?
  • Summary

I didn’t write today’s report about the AirForce Edge for anyone in particular, but I do know that reader William Schooley coaches a youth marksmanship program and, if I remember right, he likes the Edge. I also know that reader RidgeRunner likes them a lot.

Back to the Edge

I reported on my AirForce Edge last May, so it’s been awhile. I said at the start of that report that I traded for the rifle because I always wanted to own an Edge. I own a Crosman Challenger PCP that I enjoy, and the Edge is its closest competitor. Both were created for junior marksmen to learn competitive target shooting and also to compete at the local to national level.

These two rifles are the main reason the Daisy 853 has vanished from the market, as they effectively replaced it. That is a whole story of its own that I have told several times and will again if there is enough demand. But today I begin testing my Edge for the purpose for which it was designed. Read parts 1 through 3 to see what can be done to hotrod an Edge, if you are interested.

Changeover

The Edge had a custom-made plenum that held more regulated air, plus it had an 18-inch barrel. It was shooting at just over 12 foot-pounds, or about double what it should. The last stock Edge I tested was back in 2010 and that one shot a rifle target pellet in the 480s and a pistol pellet in the 520s. I had not tested a stock rifle since then, so today will be a day of discovery. But first, that plenum had to be removed. Here is what had to be done to turn it back into a target rifle.

0Edge plenum

The plenum (silver part) that Lloyd Sykes installed turned the Edge from a target rifle into a respectible plinker and pest gun! It has to come off.

Muzzle extension replaced

The Edge I got in trade has a beautiful anodized aluminum silencer with baffles. It’s permanently installed inside the muzzle extension — where the front sight is attached. There is no way to attach the front sight with the silencer installed so I was going to heat it up and drive the silencer out, but after examining the workmanship Lloyd Sykes put into it I decided to buy a replacement extension. I was stunned that AirForce only charged me $9.95 for the part. I may have been given dealer pricing and you might have to pay $13.50, but still!

Edge muzzle extension
Lloyd Sykes internal silencer (left) was so well done that I simply replaced the part and kept that extension as is.

When I picked up the new part at AirForce they apologized that the color wasn’t an exact match to my serial number 10 extension that was produced over a decade ago. Imagine that! That is one of the benefits of being red-green colorblind. Please don’t adjust your screen. I am aware the two parts don’t look exactly the same — and what colorblind target shooter cares?

HOWEVER

There was more to the job than I envisioned at first. When I removed the plenum I discovered that Lloyd had moved the rear parts of the firing valve to the rear of the plenum, rendering the valve that was in the rifle’s tank unworkable unless it was rebuilt. I happened to have an original Edge valve on hand from a generous blog reader (thank you, Gene) so I simply replaced it in the rifle’s tank and left the plenum built up as it was. All together it took about an hour to turn the rifle back into a target rifle. But, would it work?

Loud!

Yes, it did work on the first shot, but I got a surprise. Lloyd’s silencer was really effective because the little target rifle now barked loudly at me! I guessed this new valve was hotter than the original I had tested back in 2010, so the remainder of this report will be a velocity test of my new/old target rifle.

Not knowing exactly what to expect I selected three pellets to test. As it turned out, my choices worked well. I selected all wadcutter pellets because when the rifle is in the target configuration they are all I will shoot.

RWS R10 7.7 grains

The first pellet I tested is one that’s not available any longer. It’s an RWS R10 target pellet that weighs 7.7 grains. Ten of them averaged 621 f.p.s., so we see that I wasn’t mistaken. The stock Edge valve I installed in the gun is running quite a bit hotter than the stock valve I tested in 2010. It’s in the same velocity range as the vintage 10-meter target rifles of the 1970s. That also probably means the shot count per 3,000 psi fill will be lower than the 107 shots I got in my 2010 test. I will test that after I have completed testing the three pellets.

The velocity spread went from a low of 616 to a high of 624 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 8 f.p.s., so the regulator is still doing its job. At the average velocity this 7.7-grain pellet generates 6.6 foot-pounds, so it is on the warm side of where it should be. I am so pleased that my rebuild of the tank went as it was supposed to.

H&N Finale Match Heavy

The second pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Heavy, which weighs 8.18-grains. Ten of them averaged 623 f.p.s. with a 10 f.p.s. spread that went from 618 to 628 f.p.s. Heavier and also faster? They must fit the bore looser.

At the average velocity this pellet developed 7.05 foot-pounds. That makes this Edge a little screamer, though velocity in a target rifle is meaningless after you pass about 425-450 f.p.s.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

As a final test pellet I chose the RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter that weighs 8.2 grains. While I was writing this report I realized how close the last pellet was to the Finale Match Heavy. This pellet averages 611 f.p.s. from the Edge. The spread went from 607 to 619, so a difference of 9 f.p.s. That makes all three pellets pretty close in their velocity spreads. At the average velocity this pellet generated 6.8 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Discussion

Well the Edge is back to being a 10-meter target rifle, but it’s a hot one — especially for 2020. Maybe not back in 1970, but today’s 10-meter rifles are coming in at around 575 for the purpose of air conservation. And, speaking of that, let’s check the shot count now. My guess is I will get 50-60 shots on a fill.

Shot count

I filled the rifle yesterday and fired three pellets before this test began to test the success of the valve exchange, so there are now 33 shots on the fill. I will use the 7.7-grain R10 pellet that was tested first. The low for that string was 616 and the high was 624 f.p.s.

Shot…….Vel
34………645 wow!
35………627
36………629
37………626
38………627
39………624
40………629
41………632
42………629
43………631
44………627
45………624
46………617 off the reg!
45………610
46………601
47………591
48………589

I stopped there because it’s obvious the rifle fell of the reg at shot 46 If you don’t understand why it is possible for me to say that I will explain, but if not I won’t. So there are about 45 shots per fill at this velocity. 

What now?

The next thing to do is to slow rifle rifle down. I want at least twice as many shots per fill, which would be 90. A men’s match is 60 shots and I like to allow at least 10 shots for checking the zero, so a cushion of 20 shots makes me comfortable.

I measured the top hat clearance (the part of the valve that makes contact with the hammer and also limits the length of travel of the valve stem) and found it to be 1.35mm or 0.053-inches, which is very short. An AirForce technical representative told me the clearance should be about 0.070-inches which is 1.778mm. There should also be three small o-rings under the top hat and there are none on this valve. I don’t think the power is coming from the top hat, but I could be wrong. 

The only other explanation I can think of for the extra power is either the weight of the hammer or the strength of the hammer spring has been increased. Or perhaps both were done. They determine how long the valve remains open, which affects velocity and also consistency, shot-to-shot. I need to check some specs before I start changing things there, so for today the test is over. I have the Edge performing like a 10-meter target rifle again, but it’s a hot one that needs to be tamed just a little more.

Summary

I’m glad to be back working on the Edge again. It was always my plan to turn the rifle back into a 10-meter target rifle, though the excursion with the potential for power was eye-opening! Who knew you could do so much to such a weak PCP?

Once I get the rifle shooting like it is supposed to I plan to test it for accuracy and then I plan to re-test the Crosman Challenger and we will have a side-by-side comparison of the top two youth marksmanship target rifles in the airgun world.


2020 SHOT Show Day Four

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Range Days at the 2020 SHOT Show
2020 Shot Show Day One
2020 Shot Show Day Two
2020 Shot Show Day Three


This report covers:

  • Here we go again
  • Crosman
  • Ravin R29Xcrossbow
  • 1077 FreeStyle
  • Air Arms
  • Diana’s modular platform
  • Gamo
  • New JSB Knock Out
  • Elsewhere at the show
  • Summary

Here we go again

I said I would return to finish reporting on the 2020 SHOT Show and today is the day. The 2020 SHOT Show was the best one I have ever seen for good reasons. From my perspective, most airgun companies brought out a whole boatload of new products. I talked to several vendors in booths who told me they thought there were fewer people in the aisles, but each of them had more money they were willing to spend. I’m talking about placing orders for the whole year’s worth of goods, because that is what this commercial trade show is about. It’s not for the public, though they do attend. It’s for the stores that want to tie down their business for the coming year and also for vendors who are always looking for new customers.

We have a lot to look at so let’s get started. There is no particular order to today.

Crosman

I saw three PCPs in the Benjamin side of the Crosman booth that they are importing from Turkey — the Cayden, Akela and the Kratos. The Cayden is a .22-caliber 12-shot repeater that cocks via a sidelever. It fills to 3,000 psi and gets up to 60 shots per fill They say it will get up to 1,000 f.p.s. in .22. The stock is Turkish walnut and the suggested retail is $600.

The Akela is a 12-shot .22-caliber bullpup repeater that also cocks with a sidelever. It’s long for a bullpup and again the velocity is supposed to be 1,000 f.p.s. Same 3000 fill and 60 shots. The stock is Turkish walnut. The price will be $650.

The Kratos another conventional repeating PCP that will be offered in both .22 and .25. It holds 12 shots in .22 and 10 in .25. Velocities are 1,000 f.p.s. in .22 and 900 f.p.s. in .25. The fill is to 3000 and they say 60 shots. The price will be $700.

Cayden

The Benjamin Cayden is a beautiful new PCP with a Turkish walnut stock.

Akela-Kratos

The Benjamin Akela (top and Kratos are two more new PCPs from Crosman.

BB Akela
The bullpup Akela is large and stunning to look at.

What does BB think? Well, he’s a little overwhelmed right now. Even if I never write another historical article this year there probably isn’t time to test every new airgun. But these three intrigue me. Talk among yourselves and I will listen.

Ravin R29Xcrossbow

Matt Hedberg of Velocity Outdoor showed me the Ravin R29X crossbow. It’s one of the slimmest crossbows on the market, at just 7-1/2- inches uncocked. This year it shoots bolts at up to 450 f.p.s. and it has earned the reputation of being one of the most accurate crossbows on the market.

What I like best is the silent windlass that’s built unto the right side of the butt. You can cock it quietly while sitting in a high seat or blind.

I have no business looking at crossbows for an airgun blog, but what can I say? I am fascinated!

Ravin
Matt holds the new Ravin R29X. The windlass connection is the circle to the left and above the name.

1077 FreeStyle

The Crosman 1077 we all know so well has been given a facelift. The new rifle is called the FreeStyle and features a three-tone color styling, a new beefy buttplate and a magazine design. Functionality remains the same as always, which is a good thing.

FreeStyle

The Crosman 1077 FreeStyle has a new look for an old friend.

Air Arms

I enjoy visiting the Air Arms booth because they make airguns I never need to make excuses for. This year the news is big. They are finally finished with three years of testing and modifications on their new XTi-50 field target rifle that is postured for World Field Target Federation open class competition. It is bang-on, at just under 12 foot-pounds to both meet the WFTF rules and also to be legal as an unregistered air rifle in its United Kingdom homeland. When last I shot field target I shot a PCP and I can see the incredible value in this one. It would raise the score of even a duffer like me, I’m sure!

Air Arms XTi-50
I’m sure we will hear a lot about the new Air Arms XT1-50.

All of the many adjustments have convenient locks to make them ever-so-easy to change, and when you are in a match that is a blessing. You don’t have time to fiddle with Allen keys. An offhand shot follows a sitting shot by one lane and only a few minutes of time. You need to be ready.

I could spend an entire blog on this one rifle, but I’ll focus on just one feature. Up front there is a built-in level that swings to the side when needed and back for storage. I don’t know why it has taken this long to appear.

Air Arms XTi-50 level
Air Arms has put a retractable level (arrow) on the XT1-50. Why doesn’t every manufacturer do that?

Best of all, the retail price is slated to be just $2,500 retail. I know that is a lot of money, but for this level of quality and performance it really isn’t. It’s like saying that new Corvette sells for $30,000. I think the competition needs to be concerned!

Diana’s modular platform

Okay, several of you (RidgeRunner) keyed in on this before I was ready to report it. Diana has redesigned their popular model 34 breakbarrel, yet again. But this time the changes were large and noticeable. They call it their Easy Modular System (EMS). I’ll start with the elephant in the room — barrel alignment! Yes, sports fans, Diana has finally seen that barrel droop is not a good thing, and they give you the ability to adjust it out with shims. Please forgive the photo that follows, but they put everything inside a plexiglass case and photography is quite difficult!

Diana shims
Here you can see two of the redesigned Diana 34 features. The cocking link is now articulated and Diana  provides shims to adjust the barrel droop.

Besides the droop issue they have made the barrel changeable and threaded the muzzle with a silencer-friendly 1/2-inch by 20 UNF thread. The sights are also changeable. Better still, the rifle can be converted to a gas piston, if desired. Wow — it’s almost as though they know what we want!

Gamo

I went to the Gamo booth twice, but this year was a repeat of all the years past, except for last year. There were Gamo reps in the booth, but they were busy in small clatches, talking to each other and showing no interest in telling me anything. Joe Syring, the VP of sales who was so helpful at last year’s show, was nowhere to be seen.

I looked at all the guns on display and decided they were re-skins of their past airguns. Some, like the Swarm Bone Collector with its wood stock, were attractive, but I saw nothing that was really new. It may have been there, but I didn’t see it.

New JSB Knock Out

On the last day I stopped by the Predator International booth and saw the new JSB Knock Out hollowpoint that had just arrived. It’s a hollowpoint solid heavyweight lead-free pellet that’s sized at 5.49mm for easier loading. It’s tin, which is harder than lead, so you don’t want to push it through a lot of deep rifling. It’s made for very powerful air rifles like the AirForce Condor that also has a leade in the breech to allow chambering solid pellets. I want to test it for you.

JSB KO
The new JSB Knock Out pellets are nice and shiny. They won’t be inexpensive, but let’s hope their performance is worth it.

Elsewhere at the show

Yes, there were a lot of other airguns at the show that I didn’t cover. I did in years past, but I got tired of these upstart companies coming and going without ever bringing their products to market. Heck — the big guys do enough of that. We sure don’t need to waste time with the wannabees! So, go ahead and get goofy over that new Russian Akula if you want; I will wait to see if it ever becomes real.

Summary

The 2020 SHOT Show is over. It was the best show, out of the 22-23 shows I have attended. What made it good were all the new products. The companies that are forging ahead are listening to their customers and applying what they hear.

The firearms side of the house can lament the “Trump slump” (a falloff in gun sales because the US social and political environments have stabilized) all they want — it hasn’t crossed over into the airgun community. I did hear a lot of comments to the effect that airgun companies are “runnin’ and gunnin'” just to stay abreast of the marketplace, but that’s just life. Alice learned all about it from the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass.

I am looking forward to a watershed year for airguns.


Springfield Armory M1 Carbine CO2 Blowback Airsoft gun: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Springfield Armory M1 Carbine airsoft
Springfield Armory M1 Carbine Airsoft gun.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Two things
  • The test
  • TSD 0.20-gram
  • Magazine is great!
  • Air Venturi 0.25-gram
  • ASG 0.30-gram Blaster Devil
  • Umarex Milsim Max 0.32-gram
  • Wearsoft Sniper Grade 0.36-gram
  • Discussion
  • Next test
  • Shot count
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today I test the power of the new Springfield Armory M1 Carbine airsoft gun. On the Pyramyd Air website the velocity is shown as 470 f.p.s. with a 0.20-gram BB, but there is a question mark after that listing — at least at the time I am publishing this report. Maybe this test will refine that number?

Two things

I see two things I have to do in this report. The first is to determine if 470 f.p.s. with a 0.20-gram BB is correct. The second is check the gun with heavier BBs, because 470 f.p.s. is a bit too fast and stingy, in my opinion. Of course it all comes down to accuracy. I’m looking for the best of both worlds — velocity and accuracy. Rather than to just throw out some numbers, I will test the gun and then let the accuracy test determine the results.

The test

I will shoot strings of 5 BBs for velocity if the gun appears to be stable. If it isn’t stable I will expand the strings to 10 shots. I will wait a minimum of 25 seconds between each shot, but I will come back and test the gun by shooting as fast as possible, later on. I’m allowing the gun to warm up after each shot and at the end of the report I’m testing the effects of rapid-fire on velocity.

TSD 0.20-gram

First I tested with TSD 0.20-gram BBs. These should give pretty close to the specified velocity. The average for the 5-shot string from the test gun was 449 f.p.s. The velocity spread ranged from a low of 444 to a high of 452 f.p.s. So the test gun is shooting 20 f.p.s. slower than the advertised average. I would think 450 f.p.s. is a more realistic velocity for a 0.20-gram BB.

The velocity spread was just 8 f.p.s., which is fairly tight. I will have more to say about the 0.20-gram BB in a while.

Magazine is great!

The Carbine magazine loads easily because there is no constriction at the top. Many times the “ears” at the top of the mag are formed to catch and hold the BBs as they are fed upwards by the follower and spring. It works well but it means you have to pop each BB past the ears and into the mag as you load. This magazine is wide open at the top so the BBs just drop in with no resistance.

Carbine mag
Instead of sitting all the way to the front of the mag and being restrained by fingers, this mag pushes the BBs straight up to a place where they sit awaiting the bolt to strip them off. The lack of restriction makes the magazine easy to load.

Air Venturi 0.25-gram

Next up are Air Venturi 0.25-gram BBs. They averaged 422 f.p.s. with a spread that went from 418 to 424 f.p.s. That’s just 6 f.p.s. This is still a pretty snappy velocity for an airsoft gun so I continued to shoot BBs of increasing weight.

ASG 0.30-gram Blaster Devil

Next to be tested were five ASG Blaster Devil 0.30-gram BBs. These averaged 407 f.p.s. with a spread of 9 f.p.s. It went from 402 to 411 f.p.s. This was the largest velocity spread of the test, which shows that this gun is set up quite well!

Umarex Milsim Max 0.32-gram

The next BB I tested was the 0.32-gram Milsim Max from Umarex. These were the first BB to average less than 400 f.p.s. They came in at an average 397 f.p.s. with a spread of just 4 f.p.s. It ran from 395 to 399 f.p.s. I’ll have more to say about these heavier pellets in a moment. But before I do, let’s look at the heaviest BB I tested.

Wearsoft Sniper Grade 0.36-gram

The Wearsoft Sniper Grade 0.36-gram BB averaged 387 f.p.s. in the M1 Carbine. The spread went from a low of 383 to a high of 398 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 6 f.p.s.

Discussion

At this point in the test we might be inclined to say that any of these BBs would be okay in the Carbine, but I have been waiting a minimum of 25 seconds between each shot. Is that realistic? It might be for a sniper, but the Carbine is not a sniper’s weapon. It’s for active skirmishing and close quarters battle. So, no — waiting that long isn’t realistic.

Next test

Now I wanted to see what the 26 shots fired thus far (there was a first shot to make sure the CO2 cartridge had been pierced and the gas was flowing) had done to the velocity. We know that the average velocity for the TSD 0.20-gram BB at the start of the test was 449 f.p.s., so what was it for the same BB on shot 27?

Shot 27 did not register on the chronograph, so I waited 25 seconds and fired shot 28, which registered 451 f.p.s. So the gun is still shooting on the pressure curve.

Next I fired shots three through 14 (of a 15-shot magazine) without recording. That’s 12 shots fired shot as fast as possible. Then the last shot — number 41 on the CO2 cartridge — registered 400 f.p.s. This could be due to either of two things. Either the gun has cooled down from the rapid firing or it is starting to drop off the power curve. In other words, it’s running out of gas.

Then I fired nine more shots with 25 seconds between each shot and shot number 51 registered 299 f.p.s. The CO2 cartridge is definitely running out.

Shot count

I continued to shoot the gun, but now the BBs were bouncing off the box I was using as a BB trap. I used an empty 20-pound box that held cat litter for my trap. I stuffed it with heavy brown craft paper and still the heavier BBs were shooting through both sides of the box after about 6-7 shots. These cat litter boxes are made from very tough cardboard, so this gun has some real punch!

At shot 67, which was a dry-fire, the exhausted the remainder of the gas. I would say that you can count on 50 good shots per CO2 cartridge, and that number will vary a little, depending on how fast you fire.

Trigger pull

The airsoft Carbine has a single stage trigger that breaks at 5 lbs. 10 oz. The military spec is 5 lbs., so the airsoft Carbine is close to spot on!

Summary

Now we know how the Springfield Armory airsoft Carbine performs. While there will always be some variation, any gun you get should be close to the numbers seen in this test.

I remember how accurate the BB Carbine is, so I can’t wait to test this one. If you’re a Carbine guy maybe this is for you.


Caliber talk

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:
.177?
Plinking and hunting?
Ubiquity!
Long-range target shooting?
Beware of velocity
Summary for .177
.20 caliber or 5mm?
Summary for the .20 caliber
.22 caliber
Plinking?
Target shooting
Hunting and pesting
Power ranges
Summary of the .22 caliber
.25 caliber
Target?
Hunting
Cost
What about the .30?
Report summary

Looking at all the new airguns we saw last week brought something to mind. What caliber should you select for your new airgun?

.177?

This is the smallest standard caliber. It is used exclusively in 10-meter target matches for both rifle and pistol. It should also be selected for the sport of field target if you intend winning.

Plinking and hunting?

This is also the universal caliber for plinking, It’s also good for some light hunting (squirrels, rabbits, and similar-sized game animals and pests). If you plan on shooting a lot, this caliber generally has the least expensive pellets, though premium ones can still cost quite a lot.

There are many new pellets coming out that tout their performance for hunting. In .177 caliber I would remain skeptical until I saw some real proof. That doesn’t have to mean game taken but at least see performance in ballistic gelatin or a similar media.

Ubiquity!

There are more pellets available in .177 than in any other caliber and in fact, there are more choices of .177 pellets than in ALL of the other smallbore calibers combined! That did matter at one time in the past when there weren’t as many premium pellets around, but these days there are good pellets in all 4 smallbore calibers, so it isn’t as important.

Long-range target shooting?

Can you shoot a .177 pellet out to long range? Of course you can. The big question is what will it do. Under ideal conditions a .177 caliber pellet can do quite well when target shooting out to 100 yards. Can it go even farther? Sure, but as the distance increases it quickly becomes a trick performed for a You Tube video, rather than a legitimate pastime.

Beware of velocity

Unfortunately the .177 caliber is where the highest velocity potential is, so companies have used it for decades as the speed demon pellet. Velocity alone does not hurt accuracy, as I demonstrated in my 11-part test back in 2011. But those companies that tout their guns based on velocity usually don’t have any accuracy to go along with their speed. They are selling on velocity alone. That makes .177 a caliber be beware of.

Summary for .177

The .177 pellet is low-cost, universal and far more capable in 2020 than it was just a decade ago. Match it to your airgun and look for energies in the lower 20 foot-pound region, because that is where the more accurate airguns will be.

.20 caliber or 5mm?

Twenty caliber was brought to market in 1948 by the American manufacturer, Sheridan. But it was in the 1970s when American retailer and importer, Beeman, pushed it into the mainstream — or tried to. Dr. Beeman favored the 5mm/.20 caliber as a compromise between .177 and .22 — as the best of both worlds. As it played out, however, it was closer to the .22 side and suffered from too much competition with the larger double deuce. Twenty caliber has been on again, off again since Beeman first touted it, and in 2020 I have to say it is in an off cycle. The Sheridan Blue Streak that uses it is no longer being manufactured. Plus, you can tell the demand is down because companies like Hatsan that offer their guns in all calibers often skip over the .20.

This fact makes buying a new airgun in .20 caliber a risk. There are good pellets at the present, but the selection is quite small and who is to say how long they will last? Companies only make what people buy and the twenty is at the bottom of the list.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or bad about .20 caliber. It’s as good as people who love it claim it is. But it just isn’t in favor right now. I don’t think it will ever go away, but I also don’t think it is a caliber I can recommend to someone who is buying a new airgun.

Summary for the .20 caliber

The .20 just isn’t in vogue right now. And you won’t get a break on the price of pellets over the .22. Check both the tin price and the pellet count per tin to compare. Buy a new .20 caliber with that in mind.

.22 caliber

At one time (roughly 1910-1970) .22 caliber was the “American” caliber, while .177 was seen as a European caliber. That has certainly changed, but the .22 caliber is still the second most popular caliber in the airgun world. And the pellets have gotten so heavy and specialized that .22 now competes with .25 caliber on the larger end of the smallbore range. Its pellets are certainly less expensive than .25 caliber pellets of the same type — sometimes by having more pieces in a tin. So, a lot of airgunners feel that if they want to go big, .22 might be their best choice, even though .25 has it beat where sheer weight is concerned. But consider this — it’s much like a big bore air rifle — once you go past 500 foot-pounds it’s all bragging rights with very little actual performance advantage. I say that because at 500 foot pounds big bore airgun bullets are pasing completely through 2,000 lb. American bison.

Plinking?

Twenty-two can be used for plinking and general shooting — as long as the shooter is willing to pay the premium for shooting the larger, more expensive pellet. If plinking is all you plan to do, consider the .177.

Target shooting

For formal matches .22 is as dead as a doornail! Formal matches are reserved for .177. For the new line of long-range benchrest matches that haven’t settled down and stabilized yet, the .22 is on the lighter side of possible. It’s not really the best choice. But for personal long-range target shooting, it’s a wonderful caliber.

Hunting and pesting

Twenty-two is ideal for smallbore hunting and pesting! You can go after larger game like woodchucks and raccoons that are on the fringe for a .177 caliber airgun. In fact .22 and .25 are in close competition for this type of sport.

Power ranges

I know that there are fine .22 caliber rifles that only produce 5 foot-pounds at the muzzle. And there are .22s that certainly top 80 foot-pounds So perhaps this caliber has the broadest spread of useful power of all the airgun calibers.

Summary of the .22 caliber

The .22 is the big brother of the .177. Get it when power is necessary. It leans towards hunting and long-range shooting more than the .177. But be aware that the pellets do cost more.

.25 caliber

The quarter-inch bore was the largest smallbore caliber for the longest time. It came into being before 1910 and is still going today. In fact, it is seeing a resurgence of interest today because it generates the greatest power of all the smallbores. That would be an AirForce Condor putting out 105 foot-pounds with the Ring Loc Kit maximized.

Twenty-five was a back-burner caliber like the .20 is today until close to the start of the new millennium. It took the power potential of precharged pneumatics to bring it to full bloom.

Target?

Twenty-five caliber doesn’t spring to mind when I think of shooting targets, but for long-range benchrest it has a definite place. If the wind isn’t too high and especially if there aren’t any .30 caliber rifles on the line, .25 is the way to roll.

Hunting

The big .25 is the airgun hunter’s dream. It is the .45/70 of the airgun world! And like the .45/70, the .25 can reach way out there and punch hard. You just have to know the distance and trajectory precisely to hit what you shoot at.

The .25 punches a large wound channel that is the airgun hunter’s secret to success. As long as the rifle or pistol is accurate, the big .25 has no equal. Even in a pistol, the TalonP in .25 produces over 50 foot-pounds at the muzzle!

Cost

Make no mistake — .25 caliber pellets are not cheap! This is not the caliber for a family picnic fun shoot unless you are okay with the cost. A tin can will be just as hit by a .177 as by a .25, though the sound of the larger pellet smacking through the steel plate may be more dramatic.

Summary for the .25

The .25 caliber is growing more popular day by day. Precharged powerplants have made this possible. While today’s springers are certainly capable of launching a .25 at reasonable speeds, they tend to cock harder and shoot rougher than I prefer.

What about the .30?

No, no, and no! Thirty caliber is fine for hunting larger small game and for competing in a few highly specialized target sports that are still evolving, BUT — the pellets are very expensive and the choice is extremely limited. If you want a .30 because you just want one, I understand. We all have itches that need to be scratched. But if this is a choice you made simply because .30 is a bigger number than .25, it’s time to reconsider. Thirty caliber is not even in the smallbore corral. It’s a horse of a different color and you need to know why you want one before you buy.

Report summary

Pellets have changed a lot in the past 15 years because pellet guns have changed a lot. If you are looking at the new crop of airguns coming out at this year’s SHOT Show you may want to rethink your caliber choice, because things have certainly changed.


Vintage airguns and flea markets

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. He’s going to tell us about a great find he made recently.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected]

A history of airguns

Over to you, Ian.

Vintage airguns and flea markets
Ian McKee 
Writing as 45 Bravo

This report covers:
Helping BB
A good fit
Opportunity
Sold
Description
Operation
Editor’s note
Better find!
Best find

Helping BB

While B.B. was roaming around the SHOT Show 2020 last week, collecting all the secret intel on the new toys we can look forward to this year, I am trying to take a little load off of him by writing a couple of guest blogs. 

A good fit

My niche seems to be vintage airguns. B.B writes about their history; I write about how to keep them going. 

He shows you how to repair the springers, I show you how to repair the gas guns. It’s a win win situation. On to today’s blog.

Vintage airguns and flea markets — I’ll buy that for a dollar!

Opportunity

We were coming back from Fort Worth a while back and saw one of the perpetual “ESTATE SALE” signs on the side of the road. We weren’t in a hurry, and I wanted to stretch my legs for a bit. 

My wife and I walked around and just looked for a while. Then I spotted a Crosman 1008 8 shot pellet pistol in a bin. And then in another bin I found a still-carded Crosman Speed Loader Kit that included 3 pellet clips, and a carry case for the extra clips, for the same 1008 pistol. 

The pistol seemed to work mechanically, and my curiosity got the better of me. 

1008 RepearAir 1
Crosman 1008 RepeatAir pistol.

1008 clips 1
These clips have never been out of the card!

Sold

I asked how much, expecting to hear some inflated price. I was surprised when he said a dollar each. SOLD!

The 1008 was modeled after the Smith and Wesson 10mm caliber 1006 semiautomatic pistol made from 1990-1995. It looked enough like a S&W 59 that I had carried for years when I was younger that, if for nothing else, for one dollar, I would hang it on the wall for the memories.

B.B. did a 3-part review of the Crosman 1088 (the younger brother of the 1008) back in 2009, and a short review of this model as an airsoft pistol back in 2005. So this model has been around for a while. 

Description

The 1008 is a 8-shot CO2 repeater made mostly of plastic. It uses 8-round circular pellet holders that I will call clips. These are inserted in the top of the gun that opens like a break-barrel shotgun.

1008 open side
The pistol opens like this to insert a clip.

1008 open rear
This is how it looks from the rear.

This pistol has a rifled barrel, I hope it will be accurate with the better pellets we have today, versus what we had available in 2005.

Operation

The circular pellet clips are advanced 1 position with each pull of the trigger. It can be fired either double action, or single action. But in the single action mode, when you cock the hammer, the pellet clip is not rotated until you pull the trigger.

The trigger in single action mode is surprisingly good. It has a lot of travel in stage 1, as it rotates the pellet clip. Then it hits a definite wall, and then breaks cleanly. 

The CO2 cartridge is loaded under the right side removable grip panel.

1008 grip off
The right grip comes off to load the CO2 cartridge.

The pistol weighs 1lb. 2.5oz (526grams) unloaded. It has nice target style sights with no fiber optics, and the rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. The adjustments do not click, but they are firm. 

This one does leak, I tried the ATF sealant, but it did not help the leak. So it appears it needs surgery.

A reseal kit is on the way so we will learn together how to resurrect this vintage airgun.

And yes I will test the velocities in both single action, and double action.

Ian

Editor’s note

I can’t resist! Many years ago (35?) I was at a local flea market in Columbia, Maryland and I saw a Crosman 111 pellet pistol on a vendor’s table. The lady wanted $30 for the boxed gun, and I gladly paid it. It came complete with the 10-ounce bulk-fill tank that was still half full. Even the original owner’s manual was still in the box!

When I got it home it was still holding gas for 30 powerful shots. I shot that gun for another year before I had it resealed.

Better find!

My wife, Edith, was so impressed by that purchase that she became my bird dog at that flea market. Over the years we both found a great many airguns. The last one that she found in a dealer’s junk case was a gun I had passed by several times. But she really liked the look of it. The price was $10 but she bargained the seller down to $5.


PISTOL
This “carnival squirt gun” is an 1872 Haviland and Gunn BB pistol Edith stumbled on for five dollars!

The vendor thought it was a carnival squirt gun that people shot at balloons to win prizes. But what it really turned out to be was a Haviland and Gunn BB pistol from the 1870s that Edie eventually sold for $450 when we closed down The Airgun Letter and needed money to refund subscriptions.

Best find

But the drop-dead best find I have ever seen was at the Roanoke Airgun Show a long time ago. A friend of mine named Wayne Fowler came down to the show, but on the way he and his wife, Karen, stopped at a small antique/consignment shop. He found a Daisy wire stock BB gun. Now that gun came in several versions and some are as cheap as $1,200 today. But Wayne’s was one that didn’t say Daisy on top. It only said Plymouth Iron Windmill Company. In other words, it was one of the first ones ever made. A top collector told him it was only the 5th or 6th one of that model he had ever seen and could be worth as much as $10,000!

wire-stocked Daisy
Daisy made this replica of their wire-stocked first model several years ago. They are now increasing in value as collectors’ items just like the originals.

So the buys are definitely out there and they always will be. One man’s trash …


2020 SHOT Show Day Three

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:
Umarex — Ready Air compressor
Fusion 2
Umarex Origin!
Umarex 850
Umarex Reign
Walther PPQ M2 pellet pistol
M1A Thompson
Glock 19X
ASG — Shadow 2 steel BB pistol with Hop Up!
B&T Universal Service Weapon (USW)
Crosman — semiauto Marauder
Havoc Prime dart blaster
Summary

Well, we are back at it and there is lots more to see today. We will start with Umarex.

Umarex — Ready Air compressor


Mark Davis from Umarex USA showed me this handy portable air compressor they call the Ready Air. It runs on household current or a 12-volt car battery, so it can be taken to the field. It has all the specs that new airgun compressors are coming with — light weight, set-and-forget operation, 4500 psi fill limit, reliable and durable construction. Blog reader Jim heard it run and says it is very quiet.

Ready Air
The Ready Air compressor seems light and compact. It’s for guns only and can handle 35 cubic inches, which is the Umarex Hammer reservoir capacity.

Big deal

And here is the big deal. The RETAIL price will be $500! Yes, that’s right — five hundred dollars. Is 2020 the year for Price Point Compressors?

Yes, of course it is made in China and of course you can get a Chinese compressor for less on Ebay, but your compressor hasn’t been vetted by people who know about and care about airguns. Your compressor doesn’t have a support center in Fort Smith Arkansas. That is the difference. And, if my reading on the forums is correct, buyers of those off-branded compressors are waking up to that fact.

Fusion 2

The new Umarex Fusion 2 is an upgraded CO2 rifle based on the original fusion that I tested back in 2013. It’s still a quiet little tackdriver with a great adjustable trigger. But this new one uses 88-gram CO2 cartridges, so you get a lot more shots. Twelve-gram cartridges can still be used with an adaptor, so you have a choice!

Fusion 2
The Fusion2 is as good as the original with the added ability to take 88-gram cartridges!

Umarex Origin!

Is this the big news at Umarex this year? Well, they aren’t hammering it into us, but I think it might be! It’s a price-point PCP that comes WITH A PUMP for $350! Now — that is how it’s done, folks! You offer a COMPLETE package at a reasonable price. This one features 10-shot magazine, sidelever cocking, pressure gauge on the side and it comes in .22!

Origin

Mark Davis holds the new Umarex Origin.

If this one is accurate and reasonably quiet, Umarex won’t be able to keep them in stock. Brother-in-law, Bob, watch this one!

Umarex 850M2

Someone asked me to check out the Hammerli 850 Air Magnum. Well — it isn’t called that anymore. It’s now the Umarex 850M2. It looks pretty much the same as always, but time will tell. It’s been a long time since I tested the 850, so perhaps 2020 is a time to revisit?

850

The Umarex 850M2 replaces the Hammerli 850 Air Magnum.

Umarex Reign

The Reign is a rifle I didn’t get to test last year, so I have to test the upgraded one this year. It’s a bullpup that’s fully ambidextrous. The sidelever cocking switches from right to left without any tools! It comes in .22 and 25-calibers for hunters. And the regulator keeps it consistent, shot after shot.

Reign

The bullpup Reign is regulated.

Walther PPQ M2 pellet pistol

Yeah, yeah, it’s another lookalike CO2-powered pellet pistol. So what? 

Well, this one has a BELT-FED magazine for pellets, guys! Yes, the world of 8 rounds has been advanced to 20 this year. That’s the news!

PPQ and mag

That’s right! The new Walther PPQ has a 20-round belt in the magazine!

M1A Thompson

Remember the Legends MP40 that BB got so excited about (that he bought one!)? Here we go again. This time it’s the Legends M1A — a military version of the famous Tommygun. They can’t call it a Thompson for trade reasons, but I sure can!

M1A Thompson

Here it is — the M1A1 submachinegun.

The .45 ACP firearm came with 20-round stick magazines in World War II and this one does too. It holds 30 BBs and fires from the open bolt. You bigger guys will appreciate the gun’s very long pull! As compact as it is, you feel like you’re holding daddy’s shotgun when you shoulder it.

Glock 19X

Then Mark showed me the new Glock 19X BB pistol. It features half-slide blowback and looks very realistic. Of course, he said, the new AIRSOFT model is full blowback and extremely realistic. Then I told him that airsoft was back on my beat and we started talking!

Glock 19X

He’s holding the Glock 19X BB pistol, but the airsoft pistol is at the lower right. It can use CO2 or green gas, depending on the model.

ASG — Shadow 2 steel BB pistol with Hop Up!

You read that right — a BB pistol with adjustable Hop Up! Talking to Action Sport Games (ASG) representative, Bob Li, I learned that the CZ 75 Shadow 2 airsoft pistol I have been testing will now come out as a steel BB pistol, too. And here’s the big deal — it will be the first steel BB gun to have adjustable Hop Up! He told me to expect it in July.

ASG Shadow 2

It looks like the Shadow 2 airsoft pistol, but this one shoots steel BBs and has adjustable Hop Up!

B&T Universal Service Weapon (USW)

The other gun I saw at ASG is an airsoft pistol — the B&T USW pistol. This looks like a fun gun to shoot and it has a collapsable buttstock that deploys in an instant.

ASG USW

The airsoft ASG USW is a cool-looking service gun. The buttstock collapses in an instant!

After looking at the USW I decided I needed to test one — even if Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry them. It should be out by July, as well. Would you like to see THIS one in as steel BB gun with Hop up? Wouldn’t THAT be too cool for school?

Crosman — semiauto Marauder

I know you guys are interested in this rifle and have possible seen other quick looks at the new Marauder. So, when Crosman product manager Phillip Guadalupe showed it to me I looked with you guys in mind.

semiauto Marauder

The new semiautomatic Marauder is attracting a lot of interest.

What about the trigger? Well, because this is a semiauto and the sear has to be caught on the fly, this rifle doesn’t have the same trigger as the conventional Marauder. The first stage is very long and to tell the truth I could not feel stage two. The rifle just fired. The trigger is somewhat adjustable but not as much as the Marauder trigger you are used to.

Marauder charging handle

The semiauto Marauder is cocked with a charging handle.

The new rifle is a little more powerful than the conventional Marauder. Crosman says 29 foot-pounds in .22 caliber and the regulator helps you get 60 shots on a fill. I have to test one as soon as I can.

Havoc Prime dart blaster

This is Friday so I want to leave you guys with smiles on your faces. For that Phillip showed me the Havoc Prime dart blaster — a pump-action nerf gun that shoots foam “darts” at 130 f.p.s. Other nerf guns are only half that fast. And this one is rifled! Grandpas of the world, here is another one for you to make trouble with, and this one will probably get you in trouble with Grandma, so a second benefit!

Havoc Prime dart blaster

The Havoc Prime dart blaster looks like fun!

Havoc Prime darts

The Havoc darts are supposed to fly straight and far!

Summary

This SHOT Show stands out as the best one I’ve ever seen. I have a lot more stuff to show you but I’m going to give it a breather for a couple days and come back next week to finish up.

Oh, and Diana does not have a semiautomatic M1 Garand pellet rifle coming out this year. Sorry guys!

And so, in the words of the immortal Porky Pig, “I believe we’ve come to the end of our operating hours, ladies and gentlemen.”



2020 SHOT Show Day Two

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:
Air Venturi
Butterfly
Avenger PCP
Bada Bang
Ataman big bore
Hill compressor
Leapers
Hatsan Invader
AirForce Airguns
.50 Texan
RAW
Raw HM Micro
RAW systems rifles
That’s all for today

Air Venturi

I told you there were a lot of things to see and I had to skip past them to finish Part One. I will begin today by going back and looking at what we missed. I’ll start with Air Venturi.

Butterfly

The Butterfly is the Air Venturi Dragonfly with a pump-assist built in. You remember the pump-assist that was tried on the Benjamin 392  many years ago? The additional linkage makes pumping the gun much easier. That linkage is built into the Butterfly, which was named for the look of the linkage. So, it’s a multi-pump that’s much easier to pump. You multi-pump guys will want to check this one out.

The Air Venturi Butterfly is a Dragonfly with a pump-assist mechanism built in.

Butterfly open
Air Venturi representative, Cory Bach, shows how the Butterfly got its name.

Avenger PCP

The Air Venturi Avenger is a precharged pneumatic air rifle that has a rotary magazine, a full-length shroud and an externally adjustable regulator. It’s to be offered in .177, .22 and .25. The MSRP will be $329 and people wonder whether that makes it a price-point PCP. I think it does — if it functions as advertised. Also, look for it to be priced closer to $300.

I always knew there would be an upward creep in the price point when I coined that phrase three years ago. We don’t have nickel candy bars anymore, do we? The crunch for this rifle is will it perform? This is a hot market right now and there is a lot of competition.

Avenger
The Air Venturi Avenger is a price point PCP with a lot of good features. Can’t wait to test it!

Bada Bang

Bada Bang is an electronic airgun target system that works with guns up to 12 foot-pounds. It’s operated by a smart phone app and offers numerous different games and challenges. It was shown last year but is out now and I will be testing one for you soon.

Bada Bang
The Bada Bang electronic airgun target works with a smart phone app.

Ataman big bore repeater

I saw a prototype big bore air rifle from Ataman in the Air Venturi booth. This one is .45 caliber and made to shoot pistol bullets that are 0.452-inches in diameter. It will produce energies in the 300 foot-pound range and it is a two-shot repeater with a shuttle in the breech.

Ataman big bore
The Ataman big bore is in the prototype stage at this point.

Ataman shuttle
The Ataman big bore will be a two-shot repeater.

Hill compressor

I saw the new Hill compressor in the Air Venturi booth, as well. It looks stout and rugged, and it carries the Hill name that is well-known for reliability. I was told that this compressor is a true set-and-forget unit that will shut off when it reaches the set pressure. It’s said to operate at 75 db, making it the quietest compressor around. It’s for filling airguns and not tanks. 

Hill compressor
The Hill compressor will be added to the stable of reliable air compressors.

Leapers

I have been telling you for years that Leapers was building a large clean room in the US to be able to manufacture scope sights. Well, they have started production of the first one! It’s a first focal plane 1-8X scope that was shown only in the new products section at the show. No photographs are permitted in that section, but Leapers owner, David Ding, had another one set aside in the booth to show me. This may be the only image of this new scope from the SHOT Show.

UTG American scope
This first focal plane 1-8X scope was made in Livonia, Michigan. It’s compact, yet features an 8X magnification range!

Hatsan Invader

I skipped past one significant Hatsan PCP in Part One. The Hatsan Invader is a semiautomatic PCP that’s offered in .177, .22 and .25 calibers. Magazine capacities are 14, 12 and 10, respectively.

Invader
Cecil Bays holds the semiautomatic Hatsan Invader.

AirForce Airguns

I went to the AirForce booth next. Owner John McCaslin gave me the tour of their new products. We started with the .50-caliber Texan — and no, they do not call it the Super Texan!

.50 Texan

The .50 caliber Texan is really just a .45 with a larger Lothar Walther barrel, a carbon-fiber tank that saves a pound of weight and a larger valve. Their .45-caliber Texan now gets 750 foot-pounds at the muzzle, and this fifty is getting up to 820 foot pounds, though AirForce is still testing ammunition so that number will rise. The carbon fiber tank holds 250 bar or 3,625 psi of air. Let me tell you — that hole at the muzzle looks pretty large!

Texan 50
The big difference in the .50-caliber Texan is the size of the hole at the end!

Texan 50 muzzle
That’s a big hole!

RAW

And now, prepare for the onset of the Great Enabler! I knew about this rifle a week ago and once again had to bite my tongue to keep from spilling the beans. How about a lightweight, systems-based RAW for Hunters? Meet the Raw HM Micro.

Raw HM Micro

The Micro is built on an aluminum chassis and optimized for size and weight. The chassis means all sorts of add-ons are possible, plus the weight is reduced. The Micro will come out as a .25-caliber first and I think of it as a hunter’s airgun.

RAW Micro folded
When the stock is folded the RAW Micro is a very small package!

RAW Micro
When the butt is deployed the Micro is still a small carbine!

It’s coming out soon, so start saving your pennies! I can’t tell you what the price will be yet, but it will probably be lower than you think.

RAW systems rifles

But the real story at RAW isn’t the one rifle — it’s what AirForce has done to the entire RAW lineup. They have managed to maintain the scrupulous quality RAW owners demand and still gear up for higher rate production. And, instead of just one dedicated model, they have made the rifles upgradable to various configurations.

They were showing their new lineup of HM 1000 and 1000X rifles in both wood stocks and the new chassis stocks. Even the wood stocks are new and are relieved for the removable tanks. They are also set up for benchrest matches, to accept precision rifle rests in front and bags in the rear. The AirForce approach is to manufacture every stock to be able to shoot benchrest, but to not limit it to just that.

RAW rifles
RAW Benchrest HM 1000X wood stock on top, 1000X LRT wood stock in the middle and the same 1000X in the chassis system stock below.

RAW stock cutout
The new RAW wood stocks are relieved to allow easier removable, plus save weight.

RAW owners will soon have platform airguns that are custom as well as customizable. 

That’s all for today

I have so much more to tell you about! This is the best SHOT Show I have seen, of the 22-23 I’ve attended. And airguns are starting to be mainstream in the shooting sports. This show demonstrates it.