Springfield Armory XD-M Compact blowback BB pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Springfield-XD-M
The XD-M BB pistol from Springfield Armory.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Compact pistol
  • The grip
  • Installing the CO2 cartridge
  • Not a small pistol
  • The loading assist — doesn’t!
  • Velocity Air Venturi Steel BB
  • Dust Devils
  • Slide does not remain open
  • Smart Shot
  • Shot count
  • Blowback
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation
  • Summary

I don’t encounter many airgun copies of firearms that I am unfamiliar with, but the Springfield Armory XD-M Compact blowback BB pistol is one. So my report will be a first hand observation of all the features I notice about this handgun.

Today is the day I test the velocity of this BB gun and we will get right to it, but first I need to make a couple observations. They came from installing the first CO2 cartridge in the pistol.

Compact pistol

In Part One I told you I was testing the smaller version of the Springfield Armory XD-M pistol. There is a larger pistol whose barrel is 4.5-inches long. The pistol I’m testing has a 3.8-inch barrel. On the cover of the owner’s manual Air Venturi refers to this one as the Compact. The other one they call Full-Size. 

Springfield XD-M mahnual description
The manual distinguishes between the Full-Size pistol and the Compact I am testing.

The grip

The Full-Size pistol has a conventional grip. The Compact has a grip that’s in two sections. Let me show you.

Springfield XD-M grip
The gip of the Compact pistol has a separate section that’s held in place by the magazine. I left the magazine sticking out in this photo.

When the magazine is locked in place, it holds the separate grip section in its place. The grip then feels like the grip of the Full-Size pistol. The only thing that’s smaller on the Compact pistol is the shorter barrel and slide.

The Compact version of the firearm does not have this two-part grip feature. It has the same 3.8-inch barrel as this BB gun, but the grip appears full-sized and solid. It must not be quite full-sized though, because Springfield Armory differentiates between the magazines for the Compact and for the Full-Size handgun. 

On the BB guns the magazines for the Compact and Full-Size guns both hold the same 20 BBs. So in terms of the grip size, they are the same. But the Compact barrel is 0.7-inches shorter than the Full-Size barrel, so the velocity will be lower.

Installing the CO2 cartridge

To install a fresh CO2 cartridge the magazine floorplate must first be removed. 

Springfield XD-M floorplate
The magazine floorplate has to come off to install the CO2 cartridge. Press down on the button (arrow) and slide it off.

Springfield XD-M floorplate off
The magazine’s floorplate comes off and the CO2 cartridge end cap is accessible.

Once the floorplate is off the end cap is unscrewed by a large Allen wrench that comes in the box and a new cartridge is dropped in. Obviously the piercing pin is deep inside the grip, so I inverted the pistol and dropped in three drops of Crosman Pellgunoil before inserting the cartridge and screwing the cap down. I never heard the slightest puff of gas, and the cartridge pierced perfectly. And the floorplate went right back on.

Not a small pistol

I have to comment that the Compact XD-M is not a small pistol. In fact, it is on the large side. A little bigger around than a classic M1911A1 grip, by a few millimeters. Mostly that’s due to the width of the firearm double stack magazine, which the BB gun faithfully copies. My point is, this BB pistol is for regular-size to larger paws. Not giants, perhaps, but larger hands for sure.

The loading assist — doesn’t!

There is no lockdown for the spring-loaded magazine follower. Instead a loading assist tool is provided. You use it to hold the follower down to load the BBs. I found it very inconvenient and fiddly, and after dropping it many times I abandoned it.It’s easy enough to hold the follower down with a fingernail, but this needs to be addressed!

 Springfield XD-M loading assist
This little piece of plastic does nothing to assist loading!

Velocity Air Venturi Steel BB

This gun is sold by Air Venturi, so I tested their BB first. Ten shots averaged 288 f.p.s. The low was 284 and the high was 290 f.p.s., which is a difference of 6 f.p.s. Two shots failed to register on the skyscreens, so this string actually took 12 shots.

I waited a minimum of 10 second between shots and sometimes a lot more. I tell you that because the CO2 cools the gun as it flows, lowering the gas pressure and slowing down the BBs. Though I must say this gun doesn’t have that problem as much as most CO2 pistols.

Dust Devils

Next up were Air Venturi Dust Devils. At 4.35-grains (though I measured them in Part one at 4.6 grains)  these BBs are slightly lighter than conventional steel BBs. Through the XD-M they averaged 287 f.p.s., though the spread was much larger. It went from a low of 276 to a high of 297 f.p.s. — a difference of 21 f.p.s.

Slide does not remain open

In this string two shots failed to register and the slide did not remain open after the last shot, so another blank shot was fired at the end. On that blank shot, though, the slide did stay back. To get the 10 shots that registered on the chronograph I had to shoot 13 shots. I’m telling you this because I’m doing the shot count as I go.

Smart Shot

We know that the lead Smart Shot BB is heavier, so it will go slower, but in a CO2 gun it won’t be as different as it would in a spring-piston BB gun. Smart Shot averaged 252 f.p.s. in the XD-M. The spread went from a low of 248 to a high of 259 f.p.s. — a difference of 11 f.p.s. There were no failures to record any velocity on this string and, although the slide did not remain back after the last shot, I did not pull the trigger again. 

Shot count

At the end of the last string there were 35 shots on the CO2 cartridge. I wondered if the gun was still shooting at its best, so I fired another string of Air Venturi BBs. Nine of the 10 shots registered, giving an average of 282 f.p.s. In the first string the average was 288 f.p.s.

The low for this string was 276 and the high was 287 f.p.s. The high was the very first shot and the low was the last shot, so the gas is starting to run out. But the power is still good, so I continued shooting Air Venturi BBs. There are now 45 shots on the CO2 cartridge.

The next string is indicative of gas pressure decline. I will show the entire string.

Shot……..Vel.
1…………277
2…………276
3…………273
4…………273
5…………271
6…………268
7…………265
8…………261
9…………258
10………..257

Yes, the gas is definitely running out. But the slide still cocks the pistol and still does not remain open after the last shot. There are now 55 shots on this CO2 cartridge. Since the gun seemed to be shooting okay, I shot four more times. Let’s look.

Shot……..Vel.
1…………254
2…………DNR
3…………247
4…………244

After these shots (shot 59 was the last one fired) I shot 9 more blank shots and the gas exhausted itself. The slide continued to blow back right to the end, though not far enough to cock the pistol on the last couple shots. From that data I’m saying there are about 50-55 good shots on a CO2 cartridge.

Blowback

The pistol does have a full blowback slide. It imparts a smart push to the hand that simulates recoil pretty well, though nothing like the force of even a .380 ACP cartridge. It’s more like a .22 Short.

Trigger pull

The two stage trigger is single-action. Stage one takes one pound and stage two breaks crisply at 2 lbs. 14 oz. For an action BB pistol that is right there with the best of them.

Evaluation

The XD-M pistol is very realistic. It has a beautiful trigger. The Compact model that I am testing is on the large side. 

The blowback is realistic. The slide does not remain open after the last shot. That is probably a magazine issue that will vary from mag to mag.

Summary

So far so good. The pistol behaves like a good copy should. Of course we are waiting to see the accuracy, and with a trigger as nice as this I hope this pistol can drive tacks!


The Webley Hurricane: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hurricane
Webley Hurricane.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Air Arms Falcons
  • HOWEVER
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • What is the Oh, oh?
  • Galling
  • Wrong lubrication
  • Change in direction
  • What’s next?

Today I’m going to test my Webley Hurricane’s velocity. Like I said in Part 1, I have never tested the Hurricane in my standard way. This series is an attempt to correct  that. However — I have tested the Hurricane’s velocity before and I recorded the results. I will now show a table of those results that I recorded in August of 2014, so I can do some baseline testing as I start the velocity test.

table

As you can see from the table, Air Arms Falcon pellets are the fastest and also the most consistent in the Hurricane. If I shoot 10 more today, how will those results compare to the numbers I got six years ago?

Air Arms Falcons

This time 10 Falcons averaged 461 f.p.s., compared to 466 f.p.s. in the table. The spread went from a low of 456 to a high of 466, making a difference of 10 f.p.s. In the table it’s 7 f.p.s. I would say the pistol is performing pretty much as it did 6 years ago.

HOWEVER

There is a “however”. I noticed when cocking the pistol that the piston or something seems to be galling as the piston is withdrawn. The cocking effort is shaky and rough, like metal is scraping metal. I don’t like it.

H&N Finale Match Light

The next pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Light. This wadcutter wasn’t around in 2014 when I last tested the pistol. I only shot 5 shots because the third time I cocked the Hurricane for this string the HOWEVER became an Oh, oh!

The average velocity was 416 f.p.s. The high was 422 and the low, which happened after the Oh, oh started, was 412 f.p.s. This test ends now.

What is the Oh, oh?

The Oh, oh is what happened during the test of the H&N Finale Match Light pellet. On the third try the cocking went from stiff and jerky to a major issue. I had to use too much force to cock the gun. I didn’t measure it, but 50-60 pounds seems about right. The powerplant feels dry. Obviously something is very wrong with this Hurricane. I can feel galling and it’s getting much worst.

Galling

Galling has several meanings, but they all boil down to two parts rubbing together in an uncomfortable way. If we are talking about skin parts, you have chafing and redness from irritation. For metal parts it means two parts that are engaging (touching) and losing metal from friction. It can be caused by a lack of lubrication, or by using the wrong lubrication, or the parts are not aligned as they are supposed to be. Or it can mean all three.

Wrong lubrication

You can understand a lack of lubrication and a misalignment of parts, but what does using the wrong lubricant look like? A classic example of using the wrong lubrication is when you use silicone chamber oil as a lubricant between two metal parts. Silicone chamber oil is designed to seal very tight spaces, such as the edges of a fast-moving synthetic piston seal when a spring gun fires. It works great for that. But between two metal parts that are rubbing against each other under pressure, silicone chamber oil doesn’t have enough surface tension to do the job. It gets squeezed out of the way and the parts act as though there is no lube at all.

Change in direction

I didn’t anticipate this, but now this report has taken a different turn. I’m going to disassemble the pistol and discover what is wrong so I can correct it. Galling should leave evidence in the form of shiny places wherever metal has been removed. Find them and then look for the part(s ) that have rubbed them shiny and lube both parts with a good lube.

Thankfully reader Derrick told us about a good blog on Hurricane disassembly on Another Airgun Blog. He pointed it out to us in the comments for Part 1. And, there is also a downloadable Webley Tempest manual with full disassembly instructions on the Pyramyd Air website. I printed it out. And I will do my part to show you how the Hurricane gets stripped.

There is another blog there about smoothing the trigger. My trigger is smooth and reasonably light, but as long as I’m in there I will look at it.

Now, a Hurricane is not built like the Webley pistols of old. My straight grip Senior from the 1930s was put together in a classic and time-honored fashion with screws and threaded parts, and I showed you a trick or two for disassembly when I took it apart. Well, this Hurricane is put together with lots of roll pins (hisssss) and the parts are named strange things by Webley. For example, in the Tempest manual the plastic grip panels that need to be removed are called Stocksides????? That’s a name a British Millennial Valley Girl would have made up! Old BB is a-gonna straighten all that out for you as he does this.

What’s next?

I have ordered a set of roll-pin punches that I have needed for decades. If I’m doing this I’m going to do it right! As far as the lubes go, I’ll have to wait to see the condition of the insides of the gun, but moly paste is on my mind right now. And, I have a fresh tube of White Lithium grease that you guys made me buy, so the spring will get lubed, as well. I say you made me buy it but the truth is the last time I popped the lid off my vintage 1966 can of M1 Garand Special Purpose Grease, the “white” grease inside had turned brown, with oil separating out. Don’t gotta tell me twice!

I’m sorry for a failed test today, but I think we are all going to learn a lot more from this than if the pistol had functioned normally. So you see, Yogi, sometimes even mundane things like retesting the velocity can be exciting!


The Haenel 311 target rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Haenel 311
Haenel 311 target rifle.

History of airguns:

This report covers:

Not the Hurricane today
So what?
Haenel target rifles
The 312
The 311
Different way to oil the piston seal
Construction
Sights
Trigger
Summary

Not the Hurricane today

I was going to do a Part 2 velocity test with the Webley Hurricane today but this is Friday and I wanted to give you guys something to talk about over the weekend. Velocity tests of airguns I have tested before aren’t usually that exciting, so I looked for a different topic for today.

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but I have forgotten something. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true. I have forgotten that my Haenel 311 bolt-action target rifle from East Germany shot the smallest 5-shot group I ever shot at 10 meters. Let me show you.

Haenel 311 target rifle Gamo Match group
At 10 meters the Haenel 311 put five Gamo Match pellets through a hole so small that I could not measure it. 

Thinking that group was a fluke, I shot a second 5-shot group of Gamo Match. This time the group measured 0.163-inches between centers and was probably closer to representative of what the rifle can do. And even that one is a very good group.

Haenel 311 target rifle Gamo Match group 3
After the 10-meter first group I shot this one that measures 0.163-inches between centers. It’s still a very nice group.

So what?

Here is what is driving this series of tests. In Part 2 of the report on peep sights this week I said, “The Haenel 311 rifle that this sight is mounted on is a taploader that works via a bolt action. As far as accuracy at 10 meters goes it is a junior class target rifle at its best, and probably not even that.”

Then I got curious and looked at the test I did on the 311 in 2011. Lo and behold — those targets above materialized and I realized I owed the Haenel 311 an apology! What’s even stranger is the pellet that was used in that test — the  Gamo Match that several of you have asked me to try! So I think it’s time to take another good look at this East German target rifle.

Haenel target rifles

Haenel made several target air rifles. Some are so rare that you only read about them and never see one up close. But of the common ones the 310 is a bolt action round ball shooter that’s rifled. It’s a repeater that feeds from a tiny spring-loaded magazine that’s housed on the bottom of the stock. They came into the U.S. in boatloads after the Berlin wall came down and I snagged several at about $60 each. They are way higher now.

Haenel 310
The Haenel 310 is a rifled ball-shooter. The triangular projection ahead of the triggerguard is the anchor point for the bolt that serves as the cocking lever.

The 312

An important step up from the 310 are the 311 and 312 target rifles. The 312 is the better of the two. It’s a sidelever that has a sliding compression chamber to expose the breech. Its rear sight is larger and beefier than the one on my 311, but that could be due to the time when the specific guns were made. Or it could be a difference that always was there. I don’t know. The 312 was always more money than the 311 and today I think it brings about $350 if it has the sights and works.

The 311

The 311 is the oddball that I’m covering today. They originally cost about $75-80 when they were coming in but today they are much higher. However they are more common than the 312 and don’t quite command the same price.

The rifle began production in 1964, which was at the height of the Cold War. Production ended in the early 1990s.

The 311 is a 10-meter target rifle, but it is so different from any other 10-meter rifle that it’s very difficult to categorize. The cocking effort is very difficult — owing to the short cocking lever — so this is not a three-position rifle in anyone’s book. It’s meant for offhand shooting, alone. Even then, the shooter must take care where he points the muzzle while he struggles with the cocking lever. It takes 33 lbs. of force to cock my 311, and applying it through the 3-inch bolt handle isn’t easy. In the offhand position, I would shoulder the rifle and simply pull the handle back, using my shoulder to hold the rifle in place. It sounds easy, but after a couple shots you start feeling the strain. I will test the effort again in Part 2 but I doubt it has changed over the years.

The 311’s articulated bolt rotates up and forms the top half of a longer cocking lever. You can see how it works in the picture. You rock the bolt back to cock the rifle and, typical of these bolts, the effort to cock is not light.

Haenel 311 bolt
Swing the bolt up like this and pull back to cock the rifle. It is a rocking motion, with the anchor underneath the stock, as mentioned.

The 311 is a taploader, which is what drove me to make my comment about accuracy. And in truth with most pellets I don’t get accuracy that’s any better than a Daisy 853 would give. That’s a 5-shot group of around a quarter-inch between centers at 10 meters. But the Gamo Match performance makes me want to test the rifle with other pellets that are new to the market — and there are a bunch of them.

Haenel 311 target rilfe loading tap
Rotate the tap lever forward and the top opens to accept one pellet, loaded nose-first.

Different way to oil the piston seal

With a loading tap there are a couple of ways to oil the piston seal. One is to open the tap, drop 5 or so drops of oil in, close the tap and stand the rifle on its butt for several hours to let the oil drain back and saturate the piston seal. I believe the piston seal is leather because Haenel used leather seals on similar rifles like the 303-8 Super breakbarrel target rifle that I reported on in 2009. 

A second good way to oil the piston seal is to stand the rifle on its butt and pour the oil down from the muzzle. Use an extra drop or two because the barrel will retain some if you oil this way.

You can use silicone chamber oil if you wish. I use Crosman Pellgunoil, which is 20-weight motor oil with an o-ring preservative. The muzzle velocity is so low that you don’t need to use silicone chamber oil if you don’t want to.

Construction

The rifle is larger than a youth target rifle. It’s 43-3/4-inches long with a barrel that’s 16-1/2- inches. The pull measures 13-7/8-inches, which is very long for a target rifle. My rifle weighs exactly 8 pounds. The stock is plain hardwood that looks like beech. The pistol grip is checkered with coarse hand-cut diamonds. The forearm is rectangular and tall, with finger grooves on each side. In all the 311 is closer to a vintage adult target rifle of the 1960s than it is to a youth target rifle.

Sights

You have already seen the 311’s rear peep sight. Here it is again.

Haenel peep
The Haenel peep sight is as nice as any top-grade peep. It just looks odd in a swept-back way.

The front sight is somewhat conventional, but constructed in a different and unique way. Like the AirForce front sight the Haenel stands on a tall pillar. Unlike the AirForce sight the Haenel does not adjust for height.

Haenel 3411 target rifle front sight
The 311 front sight stands tall on a pillar, but does not adjust for height. It does accept interchangeable inserts that measure a non-standard 15mm in diameter.

I have one more sight that very few Haenel 311 owners know about. It’s an intermediate rear sporting sight. Many European gallery rifles and Zimmerstutzens had intermediate sporting sights like this that were used for certain sports where the peep sight was not allowed. All 311s have a raised dovetail base just behind the loading tap for this sight but very few people have ever seen the sight itself. I received it with my rifle when I purchased it and considered myself very fortunate. I have never seen another.

Haenel 311 target rifle sporting sight
Here is something you don’t see every day — Haenel’s sporting rear sight. It clamps to a raised dovetail base just behind the loading tap. Only one rear sight may be used at one time, as they get in each other’s way.

Trigger

The trigger is one place where the Haenel pedigree shines through. It’s a multi-lever unit that breaks cleanly and lightly if not crisply.

Here’s a warning to all you would-be tuners. Many years ago I wanted to quiet the vibration of my 311 action, so I started what I thought would be a simple disassembly. When I got inside the trigger, however, the job proved to be anything but simple. I the assembled the gun with the automatic safety out of whack and have lived with it ever since. When I cock the rifle I have to pull the safety back to set it, then push it forward to make the rifle ready to fire. The 311 is not the rifle to take apart unless you have a lot of patience and perhaps a spare rifle to look at when it’s time to put it back together.

Summary

This should be an interesting look at a target rifle few airgunners have ever seen. And we begin with a pellet that should prove accurate. I think we are in for a lot of fun.


What is a BB gun?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Intro
  • Wow!
  • Red Ryder
  • BBs have changed
  • Safer BBs
  • Modern BB guns
  • Conclusion

Intro

This blog went live on March second, 2005. Two days later, on March 4, I wrote this report that I am reprinting today in total — just as it was published then. After you read it, I have a few updates at the end.

A BB gun is the fundamental starting point in our hobby. We shoot them, talk about them, collect them, and, for most of us, just hearing the term “BB gun” evokes a flood of memories. But what we think of when we think of BB guns depends largely on how old we are and where we came from.

The most common BB gun known today has got to be Daisy’s Red Ryder. It was the first BB gun many of us had or wanted and, since it has been around almost continuously since its introduction in 1938, that includes nearly every airgunner alive today.

Contrary to the spiel Ralphie rattled off in the movie A Christmas Story, the Red Ryder is not a “200-shot carbine-action range-model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.” Author Jean Shepherd got confused when he remembered the Red Ryders of his youth and not only clipped a bunch of shots from the magazine capacity, he also added the compass and sundial that were only found on the Buck Jones pump BB guns. But we forgave him because of the thousands of pleasant memories he brought to life. Daisy even made a special Christmas Story Red Ryder that DID have a compass and sundial, though they put them on the correct side of the stock (the left) for right-handers. Little Ralphie’s gun was built in reverse for his left-handed operation.

If you are under 40, the Red Ryder may not hold the same fascination it does for older kids. You may, in fact, remember one or two other airguns with equal fondness. One is Crosman’s M1 Carbine, a very close copy of the military firearm that was made popular in the 1960s and ’70s. It was a powerful BB gun that cocked by pushing in on the barrel to compress the mainspring. That took some effort, so smaller kids couldn’t do it, which was good because the carbine was very powerful for its size.

The other gun you may remember is still made by Crosman – the ever-popular model 760 Pumpmaster. Millions of them have been sold since introduction in 1966, the same year the M1 Carbine hit the street. The name was Powermaster back then, a tribute to the easy, short pump stroke that develops magnum power with incredible ease. Millions of boys, along with more than a few girls, fondly remember their 760s.

We still haven’t answered the title question, but here comes a bit of confusion. One of the coolest BB guns ever made is the fantastic Russian Drozd. It shoots .177 lead balls that are SO EASY to call BBs, and yet they are not the same steel BBs that are correct for Red Ryders and 760s. They are both larger and softer, being made from pure lead instead of mild steel. The Drozd has a rifled bore of true .177 specifications, so it shoots round lead balls both accurately and with great force! But, if you put steel BBs, which are both smaller and much harder, in your Drozd, you can jam the feed mechanism and ruin the rifled barrel.

So, have I answered the question yet? Not really, because I haven’t even touched on the latest BB-type gun – the airsoft gun. Maybe this is a good place to stop for now, though, because airsoft deserves a decent discussion (or two) of its own.

Wow!

Things were certainly much simpler (and shorter) on Day Three of this blog! I use that many words in some of my intros today — like I just did in this one.

And things have changed in the past 15 years. The Drozd is no longer available new, though I do know of a large cache of new-old-stock guns, along with a bunch of very desirable NOS Blackbirds!

The Crosman 760 is still being made, though we recently had a test of the upgraded gun — the Crosman 760 Pumpmaster Classic. In fact, I’m still testing that one and need to put a dot sight on for the next test. Maybe I’ll use the Romeo5-XDR. Wouldn’t that be strange — testing a $35 airgun with a $300 sight? 🙂

Red Ryder

The Red Ryder is still with us, of course. And Daisy has released several Christmas Story commemorative Red Ryders for those folks who don’t want to drop $500 to buy an original 1983 Christmas Story gun. Yes, they are easily that much and more, when you can find one.

But recently Daisy came out with a Red Ryder that is sized for adults! Yep, they finally officially recognized that many of their fans have voted for the past 30-40 years.

BBs have changed

The common steel BB that in 2005 was still in it’s humdrum era, has suddenly blossomed in glorious splendor! For starters, the airgun world has recognized that a BB is supposed to be uniform in size and shape. The rusty broken-down BB manufacturing lines that were built more than a half-century ago and produced steel spheres of dubious size and roundness are almost gone. Hint, hint, Crosman. They have been replaced by modern machinery and selection methods that give us BBs of world-class quality! Daisy once bragged about their U.S.-based BB-making capability. Now they buy them from China like everyone else, and we benefit from greater quality control.

I wrote about a BB gun insert that Hammerli made in the 1950s for the Swiss K31 rifle. That insert was supposed to turn the K31 into a decent training rifle for troops. It was a great concept because the soldiers got to shoot their own assigned rifles and become used to their weight, the trigger and the sights. Today that could all be done so much better and cheaper if airgun manufacturers would only realize it. The pellet-shooting Crosman MAR 177 that sold for $600 a decade ago could be remade as an accurate BB gun insert system for AR-15s, M16s and M4s today. Think of all the military could do with savings like that! Of course they would have to wear protection to keep from shooting out their eyes, but from the pictures I see, they already are. [By the way, and the manufacturers all know this — there are tens of millions of AR-15s and copycat rifles in the world. Make an adaptor that is a cheap, safe, close-range BB-shooter for them and you can retire — your fortune is made. You see, gentle readers — AR-15 owners don’t think twice about spending money on their rifles!]

Just so everybody gets it — BB Pelletier just gave away a huge marketing idea to whichever airgun manufacturer is smart enough to capitalize on it. I’m betting on a race between Crosman and Sig. Crosman, because Ed Schultz works there now, and Sig because they can be smart about the market when they try.

Safer BBs

Now we come to two different but fabulous inventions that are revolutionizing the BB gun industry today. The lead BB that has existed for more than 80 years was recognized and is now being sold as H&N’s Smart Shot. Heck — they were making lead balls in that size already; someone just needed to explain the marketing opportunity to them. Rename and repackage the product and suddenly their slow sales to a couple hundred faithful Zimmerstutzen shooters are kick-started to far greater levels!

And then there is the Dust Devil. Now in its second generation, the Dust Devil will feed through magazines that rely on magnets, is accurate and when it hits a hard target it shatters into dust. No more bounceback! No more shooting out your eyes! Mothers of America — you need a new slogan. How about “Texting reduces verbal fluidity”? Too verbose? Maybe “Thumbs make you dumb”, or something like that?

Modern BB guns

And now we come to the BB guns of today. Compared to 2005 we have guns with incredible accuracy, beautiful functionality and other performance aspects. The M1 Carbine from Springfield Armory is fast-firing and hyper accurate with the right BB. The Lil’ Duke from Air Venturi is accurate, powerful and affordable. The Legends Cowboy Lever Action BB gun from Umarex is probably the most accurate BB gun I have tested, short of the all-time champion Daisy 499, and I’m just getting started!

The Legends MP40 BB gun from Umarex is so realistic that I had to buy one for myself! I actually bought a lot of these new BB guns. The Legends P08 (Luger) pistol with blowback is another champ! And don’t forget the Crosman DPMS that gives you both accuracy as well as full-auto capability.

And, by the way, I’m not letting you off the hook, Diana. You promised me an American version of the model 30 bolt-action gallery gun that shoots conventional steel BBs! Since steel and lead BBs are way better today are you concerned the new gun may outshoot your existing European Diana 30? Buck up and take one for the team!

Conclusion

I could go on, but I won’t. The world of BB guns has changed more in the past 15 years than it did in the previous 50. We are truly living in the golden age of BB guns.

And now, in the immortal words of Porky Pig, “I believe we have reached the end of our scheduled entertainment, ladies and gentlemen.”


Gamo Swarm Fusion 10X Gen II air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight in
  • Falcon group
  • Discussion
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
  • Discussion 2
  • JSB Exact RS dome
  • Discussion 3
  • Second group of JSB Exact RS
  • Third group of JSB Exact RS
  • Summary

Today I mount the 3-9X40 Gamo scope and shoot the Fusion 10X from 25 yards. It will be an interesting test.

Mounting the scope

The scope that’s bundled with the rifle comes with a one-piece mount already attached. All you have to do is loosen the three Torx screw on the scope mount base with the wrench provided and clamp the mount to the 11mm dovetail base on the rifle. The mount has a scope stop pin that fits into the rear hole in the base and locks the mount from moving under recoil. I had the scope on and ready to go in 10 minutes.

The test

I shot off a rest at 25 yards. I used pellets that showed potential in Part 3’s test with open sights, except I had run out of H&N Match Green pellets, so I substituted something else.

I shot with a modified artillery hold, since I learned in Part 3 that the rifle likes that best. I actually modified my hold as the test progressed and I will tell you about it as we go. Let’s get started!

Sight in

I sighted in from 12 feet with Air Arms Falcon pellets. The first shot hit the paper at my aim point, which means it will climb higher as I move back, so I backed up to 10 meters and fired a second shot. Shot two was higher and also to the left. It was close enough to the aim point that I backed up to 25 yards to refine the sight picture. It took a couple more shots to get the rifle shooting where I wanted and then I fired the first group. While most of my groups today will be 10 shots, this first one was only 5 because I was also testing whether loading single pellets or loading all 10 into the magazine worked best.

I’m not going to show the first 5-shot group because it overlapped a couple sighters and isn’t easy to see. But now I loaded the magazine with 10 of the same Falcon pellets and shot a group.

Falcon group

The ten-shot group of Falcons was revealing! It was looking to be a good group until the final four  shots. The group grew from 0.475-inches between centers to 1.554-inches. 

Falcon group
Ten Falcon pellets went into 1.554-inches at 25 yards. The first 6 of them are in 0.475-inches.

Discussion

Before we move on I need to tell you what I think is happening. First, I believe the hold is the most essential part of accuracy with the Fusion 10X. Unfortunately it has a thumbhole stock that cannot be held as loosely as I would like, but a loose artillery hold is a key to the rifle’s accuracy.

Next, I don’t think there is a large difference between loading pellets one at a time and loading the entire 10-shot magazine. And the way the Fusion 10X works, using the magazine is certainly easier. I finished the test shooting from the magazine.

The scope is reasonably clear at 25 yards. I adjusted the eyepiece until the crosshairs were sharp through my everyday glasses, and I could see them on top of the 25-yard bullseyes.

For a bundled scope this one isn’t bad. And the fact that it comes with the mount already installed on the scope is a plus for those who don’t like mounting their own optics.

Finally, I don’t believe that Falcon pellets are necessarily the best in this rifle. I will try some other types. I did not adjust the scope after this group.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets

Next to be tried were ten RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. These landed low and left of the bull. The group measures 1.397-inches between centers and once more there is a tighter cluster of five in the center of the group. There were not shot in succession, but for each of them I was extra-careful to hold the rifle lightly. Now I am learning something!

R10 group
Ten RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 1.397-inches at 25 yards. The aim point was the bullseye at the upper right.

Discussion 2

Okay, I think I have it figured out. The Gamo Fusion 10X is very sensitive to how it is held. It is also pretty accurate, but only when the hold is right. The pellet probably does not make as much difference as it will appear in this test, but I did move on to the JSB Exact RS dome.

I also believe that feeding pellets from the magazine does not detract from the accuracy. Maybe I’m talking ahead of my test results now, so let’s move on and I will show you.

JSB Exact RS dome

I had left the scope adjusted where it was after my first 5-shot group and both the second and third 10-shot groups and now I could see the Fusion 10X was shooting too low and left. So I adjusted it 5 clicks up and two to the right. Ooops! Should have waited to shoot the JSB Exact RS domed pellets first. Because the 10 JSB pellets landed to the right of the bull. The elevation seemed correct but the windage was off to the right.

Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.046-inches — BUT only the first three shots are high and horizontal. I then slid my off hand out to the end of the cocking slot and shot the next 7 shots into a group that measures 0.648-inches between centers. For 25 yards that’s not that bad! In fact this group was so impressive to me that I drew a circle around the last 7 shots, to separate them from the first three shots.

RS group 1
The first group of 10 JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.046-inches between centers. The final 7 shots that I really concentrated on are in 0.648-inches, which is inside the circle.

Discussion 3

You must be wondering why I couldn’t REALLY concentrate on the first three shots, if I knew what was happening. Let me explain. When you shoot with the artillery hold there is a final step that is sometimes critical, and other times not. Before you squeeze off the shot you close your eyes and relax, then open your eyes and see where the crosshairs are. If they have moved from where you want to hit, you make small adjustments of your hands and elbows and then do it again. You keep doing it until the crosshairs are still on target after you open your eyes. Then you take the shot.  This takes time and a LOT of concentration, but as you shoot a rifle more and more, it starts to become second nature.

It takes a lot of concentration for every shot, but I can do it when I have to. And with this rifle it seems necessary.

Second group of JSB Exact RS

JSB Exact RS pellets seemed like a good pellet to test, so I adjusted the scope three clicks to the right and two clicks up and shot a second 10-shot group. I did my very best this time and 10 JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.959-inches at 25 yards. That’s not enough different from the last group to say much of anything.

RS group 2
The Fusion 10X put 10 JSB Exact RS pellets into 0.959-inches at 25 yards. This group is a little more to the left and a little higher, but not much!

That was the best I could do. But my conscience still argued that I should have done better. I was tired but still functional, so I shot one final group. This time it was just five shots. I figured I could hold it together that long. I adjusted the scope up two clicks and right three clicks.

Third group of JSB Exact RS

This time I pulled out all the stops on each shot. And it worked! I was able to put five pellets into a group that measures 0.495-inches at 25 yards. To tell the truth I wanted to shoot a second five shots, but I was concerned I wouldn’t have anything to show you. Other airgunners shoot five shot groups as a matter of course, so there you are!

RS group 3
The Fusion 10X put five RS pellets into 0.495-inches at 25 yards.

Summary

The Gamo Swarm Fusion 10X GenII repeating pellet rifle is a remarkable airgun. It is smooth, accurate and has a reasonably nice trigger. Its GenII 10-shot magazine lies flat for a low profile, yet the rifle feeds very reliably. It’s easy to load and even easy to fire single-shot without removing the magazine.

This gas spring-powered breakbarrel rifle is easy to cock. It’s not a mega-magnum by any stretch, but it’s a good honest .177 that develops almost 15 foot-pounds. Yet I can cock it easily with one hand.

The rifle is lightweight, yet does not vibrate or recoil very much when it fires. And all of this comes to you with a scope for under $300. Gamo has done very well with this one.


Peep sights: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Target-grade peep sights
  • Different peep sights
  • FWB 300S peep
  • Walther peep
  • AirForce Peep
  • East German Haenel 311 sight
  • Not much change
  • What about sloppy peeps?
  • The “GAMO” peep
  • Daisy plastic peep
  • Summary

Today I get to play a little. One of the reasons I wrote this report that is turning into a series was to talk about target-grade peep sights. I didn’t do that in Part 1, so today is my day.

Target-grade peep sights

The first target-grade peep sight I saw was on the Winchester model 52 target rifle on which I learned to shoot. I was impressed by what could be done with such a sight. The first airgun target peep sight I saw was probably on an Anschütz 250 target rifle I once owned. It was large and had crisp adjustment knobs to move the peephole where I wanted. The size of the sight was impressive and I think I equated that size to precision. It was precise, but not for the reason I thought.

To be precise a peep sight needs two things. The first is a rock-solid platform that moves in two directions — and ONLY two directions. One is up/down and the other is left/right. Good sporting peeps also have that, so what more do target sights need?

The other thing they need is a very fine fine thread on each adjustment screw. A sporting peep tries to accommodate a wide range of adjustments for elevation. That way it can support a larger (higher) trajectory than would be needed for a rifle shooting known ammunition at a known distance. The target peep only needs a narrow range of elevation adjustment, because the distance is always the same — 10 meters for air rifles and 50 feet for smallbore rimfire target rifles. And the velocity of the round is also kept within a narrow range of numbers — 550-650 f.p.s. for 10-meter rifles and 1,000-1,050 f.p.,s. for rimfires. That keeps the possible height of the projectile’s arc constrained.

That is the reason it is so difficult to sight in a precision target air rifle at a distance of, say, 50 yards. Take a Feinwerkbau 300S, for example. It was designed to shoot at 10 meters, which is 33 feet. It has a known muzzle velocity of 610 to 650 f.p.s., when shot with the pellets for which it was designed. But you want to shoot it out to 150 feet and you wonder why it prints so low on the target paper. You are shooting more than 4.5 times farther than the rifle was designed to shoot and its makers made the rear sight adjustable within a narrow range at 33 feet to accommodate different types of ammunition.

Target shooters are the people for whom the rifle was designed and they are concerned with moving the strike of a pellet by a quarter the diameter of a pellet. Since the 300S was deigned to shoot .177 pellets, only, that’s a move of just 0.04425-inches or 1.124-mm. But you are wanting to move the elevation up by 11.5-inches at 50 yards! That’s not going to work, is it?

Yes things can be done to correct this, but that’s not the subject of today’s report. We are looking at peep sights the way they were designed.

Different peep sights

Let’s look now at several different target-grade peep sights, to see how they compare. Most of these will be vintage sights, but I will address that after we look at them.

FWB 300S peep

I’m going to show just one FWB peep sight, but FWB changed this sight many times over the years that the models 110, 150 and 300 target rifles were in existence. So, the next one you see may differ a little or a lot from this one, depending on when it was made.

FWB 300 peep
The peep sight on my FWB 300s has a Gehmann filter set on the back to change the colors seen by the shooter. It also changes the size of the peephole. With that device the shooter can adjust to the lighting conditions at any target range.

The FWB 300 peep moves a block that contains the peephole in both directions. There are actually two blocks that are held together by a long dovetail. That way the sight can control the amount of slop when changing adjustment directions to almost zero. Spring-loaded detents that are controlled by tiny ball bearings work with this arrangement to keep the slop to a minimum. I will discuss slop in peep sights at the end of the report.

Walther peep

The Walther peep I will show is from the same timeframe as the FWB. Walther established a good design and then kept on producing it for decades as target rifles came and went. This one is probably from the late 1960s, but it looks very similar to the same sight made in the 1950s and ’70s.

Walther peep
Walther’s high-grade target peep uses the same two sliding blocks as FWB, only Walther’s overall look is circular instead of square. Walther also put the windage adjustment knob on the left side of the unit, while FWB put it on the right. The eyepieces are interchangeable and accept other devices like the Gehmann unit seen above.

Everybody wants their peep sight to be unique, so they can tout it as the best. But they also cannot afford to not accept the popular accessories like the Gehmann units shown above. So the peepholes tend to have threads that are common across most competing brands.

Everybody also needs their sight to accept the rubber eyeshade that nearly all top competitors use. So the outside diameter of the peep disk also has to be pretty common.

AirForce Peep

Now, AirForce airguns makes both a rear peep and a front globe that accepts interchangeable inserts. These are both made for the Edge target rifle. I was not with the company when the Edge was designed, but I did help them with the final pre-production shakedown. I was flabbergasted when I discovered that AirForce had designed and then produced a world-class peep sight all on their own!

AirForce peep
The AirForce peep is made for the Edge youth target rifle, but it is fully the equal of other world-class peeps.

In fact, I was so impressed by the AirForce peep that when it came out I told all of you that it was as good as any other world-class peep for about $100 less. Today the separation in price is even larger! I will put it up against a $600 FWB peep sight and expect similar performance. That’s a $458 separation! Now, I’m not telling you to put one on your $3,000 FWB 800X target rifle. What I’m telling you is you can stop looking for an FWB replacement sight on Ebay for your own target rifle, because the AirForce sight has you covered.

The AirForce sight is modern, which means they got away from making those expensive-to-machine sliding dovetail casement parts — JUST LIKE FEINWERKBAU DID! But AirForce went one step farther. They put the entire adjustable sight assembly — the one that adjusts in tiny increments — on a sliding vertical post. If you have one of these you really can adjust that FWB 300S to shoot at 50 yards! The $600 FWB peep doesn’t even have that function today.

AirForce peep post
The entire unit can slide up or down on that post.

East German Haenel 311 sight

Okay, we have looked at world-class peep sights today. Where does the one on the Haenel 311 “target rifle” fit in? Well, in my opinion, this is an instance where the sight is more capable than the rifle it’s mounted on. The sight is fully up to world-class standards as far as adjustment is concerned. Maybe it looks a little odd to unaccustomed eyes, but the adjustments are as precise as those on a Walther or Anschütz sight

Haenel peep
I see some similarity between the Haenel peep sight and the one from Walther. I left the rubber eyecup on because it has hardened and I am afraid of splitting it if I try to remove it.

The Haenel 311 rifle that this sight is mounted on is a taploader that works via a bolt action. As far as accuracy at 10 meters goes it is a junior class target rifle at its best, and probably not even that, but the sight can hold its own on any target rifle. Being built in a Communist regime, the designers used what was available, not necessarily what was best-suited to the rifle.

Not much change

We have looked at high-grade peep sights but, except for the AirForce peep, they are all vintage. You need to know that nothing much has changed in peeps since these sights were made and used. Modern peep sights look different but they have all the same basic functions are what we have seen today. Front sights have changed a lot over the years, but not rear sights.

What about sloppy peeps?

Are there “sloppy” peep sights? Yes, there are.

Do they even work? Yes, they can work perfectly. And some sights you may think are sloppy really aren’t.

The “GAMO” peep

First of all, Gamo probably never made this peep sight. If they did, the Chinese knocked it off and began producing it for cheap many years ago.

I really don’t know if Gamo ever produced the peep sight that carries their name, but regardless of who did, how does it stack up? Well, I can see some cost-cutting measures, but they aren’t necessarily bad ones. Think of them as an advance in how a peep sight can be made, rather than doing things on the cheap. In my experience the “Gamo” peep sight is very good and precise. I put the quotes around the name Gamo because a lot of airgunners still refer to this sight by that name, regardless of where it came from.

For years after the Gamo 126 target rifle stopped being made, Gamo was still selling this peep sight. Somewhere along the way the Gamo name slid off the sight and you now find it in many places — sold under many names. The rear sight on the Crosman Challenger PCP is one place you’ll see it and the Air Venturi target sight is another. Gamo and Daisy did a lot of business together before Gamo bought the Daisy company outright, so you will see the Gamo peep offered on some Daisy target rifles as an upgrade, and it is standard on the 753.

Gamo peep
This Gamo peep is mounted on a Gamo 126 target rifle. It was also mounted on several other lower-priced target rifles like the Daisy 853. It is a basic target peep that is very good.

AV peep
Air Venturi’s peep sight is one of many of the same Gamo design.

Daisy plastic peep

Okay, I am now dropping to the bottom of the barrel for target peeps. For decades Daisy has offered a 5899 peep sight for airguns like their 853 and even for the 499. It is a good workable peep, but it’s made mostly of plastic parts and this one has slop. How much slop varies from sight to sight and also with how much each sight has been used. They become looser the more they are used.

Daisy plastic peep
Daisy’s plastic peep works well if you know it’s foibles.

After you adjust one of these sights you need to shoot a group to see where the sight really went. And, when you reverse directions — going from a right adjustment to a left adjustment, you will often have to adjust as many as three clicks just to get the slop out of the mechanism and get the sight ready to move in the other direction. Shooters who have their own rifles get used to this and soon make good adjustments the first time they try. But coaches of teams that have many rifles can become confused when going from sight to sight. And coaches often make the sight adjustments for the newer shooters.

People have said the same thing about the Gamo sight — that is has slop, but in my limited experience it doesn’t have as much, if any at all. If these sights are mounted on an air rifle that is reasonably accurate you can get the sight dialed in very well. My recent test of the Gamo 126 demonstrated that. But if the rifle isn’t that accurate it will take longer to adjust the sight, since it’s never clear exactly where the rifle is shooting.

Summary

We have looked at high-grade target peeps today and we’re still not done looking at peep sights. There are still oddities to see, like the sight on a Daisy Number 25 pump BB gun, and perhaps the tube peeps that have been outlawed for international competition. Reader Kevin knows a lot about them as he has or has had several. What about the peep sights used by Buffalo hunters?  Then there are Zimmerstutzen sights and BSF air rifle peeps the size of satellite dishes. I might even throw in some cheap peeps found on vintage .22 rifles, just for fun. I think there is still more ground to cover.


The Webley Hurricane: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hurricane
Webley Hurricane.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • The Webley Premier
  • Webley Junior
  • Premier Mark II changes to Hurricane
  • Webley Premier Mark III
  • Quick fix?
  • The Hurricane
  • So?
  • Webley Tempest
  • There is more…
  • Back to the Hurricane
  • Cocking
  • What to expect
  • Summary

Today I begin a report that I thought I had already written. But when I looked in the archive I find that I have never reported on this pistol in the traditional way. I have included it in other reports and I have referred to it many times but I have never done a full report on the Webley Hurricane.

History

Because of my oversight I have decided to spend additional time covering part of the history of Webley air pistols and the things that lead up to the Hurricane. This will be from my perspective, because there are probably several different stories about how the Hurricane came to be.

The Webley Premier

In 1964 Webley replaced the Mark I and Senior pistols with the new Premier. It was an all-steel pistol that had the same build quality as the models it replaced. The bluing was up to Webley standards, which is to say very good. In all respects that first Premier was a high quality air pistol. But changes were coming. This was a time when costs were being examined carefully, to see where savings could be found — and what the market would tolerate along those lines.

The Premier replaced two pistols with one, which was a savings of many small parts. It also streamlined the Webley pistol line, because when you sell just one thing instead of two, specialized associated items like boxes and manuals are reduced, not to mention many small parts. For instance you no longer need two sets of grips — just the set that fits the new pistol.

Premier catalog
From the first Beeman catalog that was published in 1974, the Webley Premier was all-steel and blued.

Webley Junior

Webley also had a Junior pistol in their lineup at this same time, and over the next 12 years they made subtle changes in the construction of that pistol. The most dramatic change was when they switched from a steel frame to one made from aluminum — or aluminium as the UK calls it. It was just as good a material as steel from a performance standpoint, but enthusiasts noticed the change right away. The black epoxy resin paint that replaced the blued steel certainly did nothing to hide the change!

When I came on board as a semi-serious airgunner in 1976 these changes were starting to invade the marketplace, so I had a front-row seat for all that transpired. Ironically, I was living in Erlangen, Germany, at the time. Erlangen was the home of BSF airguns, a fact I didn’t discover until about 15-20 years after returning to the US and leaving the Army! Yes, there I was in my quarters in Erlangen, pouring over the first edition of Airgun Digest and lamenting a situation that was out of my control (living in Germany, where Beeman airguns were not available), all the  while I was stumbling past the plant that produced some of the finest airguns I never heard of! I’m in the middle of the strawberry patch, complaining that they aren’t cherries! Today’s report is my penance for that.

The Webley Junior Mark II and the Premier Mark II

I returned to the US in 1977 and promptly visited the Beeman company in Santa Rosa. I picked up their catalog and also an FWB 124 that was the hottest pellet rifle in existence, according to Robert Beeman. Years later when I started writing about airguns and began learning about them I discovered that the HW35, The Diana 45 and the BSF S55/60/70 were all in contention for the title of baddest pellet rifle in the world. In truth the HW35 was hamstrung by a short piston stroke and only merited an honorable mention. The BSF S55/60/70 was hotter and gave the FWB 124 a run for the money. And, hands down, the Diana 45 was the power champion when it was tuned correctly. Nevertheless, the 124 cocked the easiest and was probably the most accurate, so it took top honors — both then and today.

But, what does any of that have to do with Webley pistols? A lot, as it turns out. Because that was the environment at the time. Who was the fastest, the most powerful, the champ? To be cheapening a design at this time in airgun history was disaster because the whole (airgun) world was watching. But that is what Webley did with the Junior pistol. In 1973 they made it the Junior Mark II with an aluminum body instead of steel. It functioned very well, but building it that way flew in the face of tradition! Following that, in 1975 they dropped the all-steel Premier and brought out the Premier Mark II — an aluminum body cast around a steel compression tube and finished with black epoxy paint!

Premier Mark II
The Premier Mark II had an aluminum body that was cast around a steel liner for the compression tube. See the two different diameters of the body? So did the airgunning world.

Design changes usually take time to reach the market. Often the older models have to be flushed out of the system before the changes are fully felt. It can take years to transition, and it was during this same time that I returned to the US as a budding airgunner.

Premier Mark II changes to Hurricane

In 1977, just two years after it was launched, the Premier Mark II was discontinued and was replaced by the Webley Hurricane. Now, that is our subject airgun today, but the history lesson is not over yet.

Webley Premier Mark III

What you may not know is in 1974 Webley built a prototype pistol that had a white nylon body. They called it the Premier Mark III, but wise heads at Webley figured that if the public didn’t like the aluminum Mark II they would hate one made out of plastic. Duh! They then changed the name to Superpremier, but like Coke discovered several years later, the name alone won’t save a faulty idea. Yes — Webley was considering making a plastic air pistol! They retained the shape of the  plastic pistol, but made the new air pistol out of aluminum and called it the Hurricane.

Hurricane
The first announcement of the Webley Hurricane in the Beeman catalog. Notice there are not two diameters of the body?

Quick fix?

The speed with which the Hurricane replaced the Premier Mark II suggests the Premier Mark II had not met with a warm reception. I was there to watch and that is exactly what happened. The two-diameter tube was a big point of contention, so the Hurricane had a plastic sleeve over the smaller part of the tube to smooth out the look.

The Hurricane

The Hurricane was still painted with black epoxy, but its grip is quite different and the back of the frame comes back much farther, hanging over the grip. The rear sight comes way back to the end of the overhang, giving the pistol a longer sight radius. Webley also included a plastic adaptor to fit a scope to the pistol in place of the rear sight — not that I ever would! If you look you will see that the Premier Mark II has the suggestion of the sculpted grip shape, but the shape of the Hurricane grip is exaggerated. And the Hurricane grip has a thumbrest on the left side

The Hurricane front sight is hooded and, if you remove the hood, the sight blade you’ll find underneath is taller than that of the sight on the Premier or Premier Mark II. The rear sight is also larger and more refined. It adjusts in both directions with precision clicks, where the sights on the Premier and Premier Mark II move more crudely by loosening the screws and sliding the sight pieces.

Hurricane rear sight
The Hurricane rear sight has precise click adjustments and a crisp notch. 

So?

So, the Hurricane is more than a simple re-skin of the Premier Mark II. It is a completely different and more sophisticated air pistol. And what I am about to tell you will probably come as a surprise to many of you because it sure did to me!

Webley Tempest

In 1979, two years after the Hurricane came to market, Webley brought out the Tempest — a pistol I have always thought came before the Hurricane. When you look at it you will see the lines of the Premier Mark II, with some of the Hurricane advancements like the grips and the plastic body shroud thrown in. 

Tempest
See how the Tempest carries forward the lines of the Premier Mark II while incorporating some of the features of the Hurricane?

The Tempest rear sight reverts back to the screw and sliding parts, rather than the more advanced adjustments of the Hurricane. And the front sight blade shrinks back down to Premier Mark II height. So the Tempest is a different airgun than the Hurricane. Webley made the separation between the two models obvious. 

There is more…

Yet the story does not end with the Tempest. Remember the Junior Mark II mentioned earlier? Webley stopped producing them in 1977. What took their place for a time was a pistol that Webley called the Typhoon. It was made from 1977 to 1982 and was a lower-powered version of the Hurricane, and yes, there were those at Webley who wanted to call it the Superjunior. Can’t get rid of employees for poor taste, alone, I guess.

So, that’s some of what went on while the Hurricane was gestating at Webley. For many of my facts I credit the book, The Encyclopedia of Spring Air Pistols, by John Griffiths, copyright 2008 by Ashlea Publications.

Back to the Hurricane

The Webley Hurricane is a single shot breakbarrel spring piston air pistol that cocks via an overlever principal that uses the barrel as the cocking lever. The cocking sequence is the same as for all other Webley spring-piston pistols as well as several of their vintage rifles.

Hurricane cocked
Cocking the Hurricane requires unique positioning of the hands.

Cocking

The cocking sequence has to be learned. Once you learn it you will be able to cock all Webley spring-piston air pistols, regardless of the model or date of manufacture. Because of the way the pistol cocks, the piston comes back at your firing hand when the gun fires. It sounds like it would give the impression of recoil, but it truth the pistol just pulses in the hand without any flip of the barrel.

The trigger is not adjustable. It is single stage and mine is very crisp and reasonably light. I will measure it for you in Part 2.

To most airgunners a Hurricane looks large, unless they have a BSF S20 or a BSA Scorpion in their collection. It certainly looms large over most other air pistols. It’s 10-3/8-inches long when the scope mount is not attached, 5-7/8-inches high and weighs 2 lbs. 3 oz. The rifled barrel is about 7 inches long. The Beeman catalog says it’s 8 inches, but that counts the muzzle protector that is not rifled. I only measured the tube with the twisty scratches.

I’ll measure the cocking effort for you in Part 2, but for now let’s just say it isn’t easy. You need to learn the special way to hold your hands to get the most leverage when cocking, and I have known people who simply refused to do it that way. They keep waiting for someone to show them the secret way. Well, first you get a mushroom and bury it by an old rotten log in the moonlight…

What to expect

The Hurricane is one of those airguns around which legends have formed. It is powerful, but perhaps not as powerful as you might imagine. It’s going to shoot lighter pellets in the 450-475 f.p.s. region — just a little less than a Beeman P1.

The Hurricane’s piston travels back toward the shooter when the gun fires. You might expect that to cause a realistic recoil sensation, but it actually doesn’t. The pistol just pulses each time it is fired. You know it has fired but there is no movement in your hand.

The very nice sights give the impression of accuracy, but don’t be fooled. The Hurricane is a plinker — not a target pistol. You’re doing okay if you’re putting a group of 10 under an inch from ten meters.

Summary

That’s a start of the report I have waited 15 years (as of this past March 5th) to write. This time I will cover all the bases with the Hurricane so we will know how it does. Stay tuned!