Crosman MAR 177: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman MAR
The MAR177 from Crosman.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Sighting in the MAR
  • Scope?
  • Shorten the front sight post
  • Back to sight in
  • The test
  • Gamo Match
  • Trigger
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Qiang Yuan Olympic
  • H&N Match Green
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the MAR177 for the first time. But before we do — a saga!

Sighting in the MAR

I wanted to shoot the rifle with the iron sights it came with first. To me putting a scope on a military rifle is a bit redneck, unless that rifle is a sniper rifle. 

I shot from 12 feet and the pellet hit the target 2 inches below the aim point. I knew it would climb when I backed up to 10 meters, but it only climbed a quarter inch. Oh, no — I have to adjust the front sight of an AR for elevation. No military person who has carried the M16 likes to adjust its front sight for elevation. It is a slow and tedious process of pressing down a spring loaded pin and turning the front post one click at a time until its where you want it. The rifle was shooting low so I started adjusting the post down. After three clicks the post bottomed out, as in no more adjustment.

Scope?

I then attempted to scope the rifle so the test could continue, but to no avail. I found umpteen things that stood in the way. The Picatinny rail on the receiver is too short to accept most scopes and anything other than a 2-piece ring set. The magazine sits up so high that only high rings will clear and short scopes present a problem because the flare on their objective bells gets in the way of both the magazine and the forearm. Fortunately I learned everything I need to know to scope the rifle when the time comes.

Shorten the front sight post

I didn’t want to alter the front sight post, but it would never work as it is, so I got out a Dremel tool and a small Swiss file and removed about 0.150-inches from the post. The rifle was shooting low so the front sight had to go down. Remember to adjust front sight in the opposite direction of where you want the pellets to go. The post is now down where I had wanted to adjust it in the first place. Perhaps a better BUIS front sight would give more adjustment — I don’t know.

Back to sight in

I knew the rifle would now be close at 10 meters. Lo and behold it was now in the black! With the first pellet it was perfect for height, so I left it where it was for the remainder of the test.

The test

I shot 5-shot groups to speed things up, as well as allowing me to test more pellets. I shot off a sandbag rest at 10 meters with the rifle rested directly on the bag. The A2 stock on my AR prevents me from getting as close to the peephole as I would like. This is where a good 6-position adjustable stock is nice to have.

Gamo Match

The first group we will look at was made by 5 Gamo Match pellets. They went into 0.264-inches at 10 meters. We are off to a good start!

Gamo Match target
Five Gamo match pellets went into 0.264-inches at 10 meters. They are a tad low, so if I were shooting them for score I would have to lower the  front sight just a bit more.

Trigger

I noticed right away that I needed to get used to the Geisselle trigger once again. Maybe that’s because I was now shooting targets and not just testing the velocity, but I think each time I shoot the rifle the trigger needs a short break-in, or I need a brief familiarization. It’s a strange thing, and I’m recording it now so I’m aware of it next time.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Next up were 5 Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets These are sometimes very surprising and today was no exception. They produced the best group of the day — five in 0.152-inches. It was almost a gold dollar (under 0.15-inches, C-T-C) and was most worthy of the trime (under 0.20 C-T-C).

Sig Match target
The MAR177 put 5 Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets in 0.152-inches at 10 meters. This is the only trime-worthy group of the test.

Qiang Yuan Olympic

Next to be tested were 5 Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets. They were almost perfectly centered on target in a group that measures 0.226-inches between centers.

Qiang Yuan Olympic target
Five Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets were close to the center of the bullseye and measure 0.226-inches between centers.

H&N Match Green

The next pellet I tried was the H&N Match Green target pellet. Sometimes these are very accurate. but this time five of them went into a group that measures 0.388-inches between centers. It’s the largest group of this test.

H&N Match Green target
The MAR177 put 5 H&N Match Green pellets into a 0.388-inch group at 10 meters. It’s the largest group of the test.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The last pellet I tested on this day was the 7-grain RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. I actually fired it first, but I wasn’t settled down and the group was not indicative of what the rifle can do. So I shot a second 5 of them at the end of the test and got a 0.247-inch group. That is representative of what the MAR177 can do with this pellet.

R10 Match Pistol target
Five RWS Match Pistol pellets went into 0.247-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion

I’m pleased with the results of today’s test, though I don’t think I have found the best pellet yet. The magazine is breaking in and now seats in the receiver quite easily. And most pellets drop all the way into the chambers of the mag without any help.

I think the time I spent working on the sights distracted me a little and I would like to have another go at this, now that I have the sights where they need to be. I would really like to find the best pellet.

I do plan on shooting with a scope, as well, but I want that to be a separate test, after I have finished with the open sights.

Summary

The MAR177 is proving to be as interesting as I remembered. I think it can do even better and I hope to see it soon.


SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft gun: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Virtus AGE right
SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG right side.

This report covers:

  • Spring piston
  • Battery basics
  • Avalon gearbox
  • Replacement M110 spring
  • This gun
  • Sights
  • Magazine
  • Velocity
  • Hop Up?
  • At what price?
  • Discussion
  • Summary

I did a search in the blog archives and could not find another report I had written about automatic electric airsoft guns (AEG). I have done some large articles about AEG in the past for Shotgun News and for my own newsletter. I even wrote two articles for Pyramyd Air about the basics of batteries for airsoft guns — one in 2008 and the other in 2009. Those articles are still good today — 10 and 11 years later.

Spring piston

An AEG is a spring-piston gun whose piston is retracted (cocked) and loosed by a mechanical gearbox that’s powered by a small high-torque electric motor. To power the motor a battery is contained somewhere inside the gun. There is a great animation of how an AEG works on Wiki.

Battery basics

Two things to know about AEG batteries — their milliampere-hour (mAh) rating and their voltage. The higher the milliamp-hours, the longer the battery lasts, which equates to the number of shots the gun gives on a charge. The higher the voltage, the faster the electric motor spins, which equates to rounds per second, because the principal reason for the existence of an AEG is to give full-auto capability.

The gun I am testing has a stick-type lithium polymer (lipo) battery that’s rated at 1100 mAh, which is on the low end, and 11.1Volts, which is quite high. That means a fast-firing gun that will need a recharge sooner than one that has a battery with a higher mAh rating.

Virtus AEG battery
The Virtus stick battery goes in the forearm. The yellow connector connects to the gun’s motor. The white connector is for the charger. The battery must be installed and removed again for every charge.

Stick-type batteries are designed to fit inside tight spaces within forearms. Sometimes there is enough room to stuff in an aftermarket battery with a higher mAh rating for longer operation. Sig says this 11.1V battery is the maximum allowable, but that refers to the volts, only. They don’t address the mAh. I will look into that for you. The thing you don’t want to do is use a battery with a significantly higher voltage, because the gearbox may not take the additional strain of faster operation. The thing is — this battery is already running close to the top in voltage, so you aren’t likely to do that. And then there is the gearbox.

Avalon gearbox

The MCX Virtus AEG has an Avalon gearbox with upgraded steel bearings. The gears are metal as well. I have built up airsoft gearboxes this way in the past, exchanging metal gears for plastic or Nylon, but this one comes to you ready to go.

Replacement M110 spring

The gun comes with an M120 mainspring installed and a replacement M110 spring to swap in if you like. The M110 spring will give a lower velocity (30 to 60 f.p.s. slower for a given weight BB) but put less strain on the motor and less drain on the battery. If you are doing a drill inside close quarters, the 110 spring is the one to have. It will give you longer operating time. If you are outside the M120 is the way to go. Sig has made swapping this spring very easy, and I will test the gun with both springs. I believe at this point that the M110 spring will allow the motor to run cooler longer in the full auto mode. We will see as we go.

This gun

All right, I’m going to stop the tech discussion right there. There is a lot more to tell you, but now I want to shift your attention to the gun I am testing. The MCX Virtus AEG is a close replica of Sig’s MCX Virtus SBR firearm — their short-barreled rifle version of the Virtus. The airsoft gun’s receiver is CNC-machined metal and has M-LOK-compatible slots for accessories in the metal handguard. The metal stock telescopes to three positions and locks solidly in all three. It removes quickly to change the mainspring for power changes.

The gun weighs 6 lbs. 9 oz with a battery and an empty magazine. The length runs from 25-3/4- to 29-inches overall.

This is a select-fire airsoft gun with an ambidextrous thumb switch for Safe, Semi and Full Auto. If you are used to the M16/M4/AR-15, the switch is exactly where you expect it to be and the selection works exactly the same way. 

Sights

The MCX Virtus comes without sights. On a gun like this they would be back-up iron sights (BUIS). I will mount a dot sight for testing and, since Sig sent me the Romeo5 XDR, that’s the one I will mount. The gun has a M1913 Picatinny rail that runs 16 inches along the top of the receiver and handguard to augment the M-LOK slots on both sides and the bottom of the forearm. Mounting optics and accessories should prove no problem. Before you go crazy, though, remember that this is a close-quarters battle gun. Sights, a laser and a light are about all you want. Yes, thermal imaging, a rangerfinder and a bipod are nice options, but not when you are clearing rooms!

Magazine

The gun has a 120-round magazine that fits into the receiver just like an AR mag would. The release is in the same place and works the same so, once again, those who are familiar with the Armalite platform will be at home with the MCX Virtus.

Virtus AEG mag speedloader
Virtus magazine above and speedloader below.

Sig gives you a speedloader to fill the mag. The gun is rated for 0.20-gram BBs, and, as I have with other guns, I will test it with different BBs and different weights.

Battery box

Like most stick batteries in full-auto AEGs, the battery on the Virtus lives inside the forearm. Unlike many AEGs, the Virtus forearm slides off easily with the removal of a single captive pin. I have fought M4 handguard keepers for days, trying to install and remove batteries! There seems to be plenty of room inside the forearm of this one for larger batteries, but I have asked Sig if a higher mAh rated battery is acceptable, since they do not want you to use one with higher voltage. I understand the operational difference between volts and amperage, but I still want to hear from them.

Velocity

As it comes Sig rates the gun at up to 370 f.p.s. That would be with the M120 spring installed and using a 0.20-gram BB. Naturally I will test that with a lot of ammo, and then install the M110 spring and test it, as well. It looks like I have a lot of testing ahead of me!

Hop Up?

An airsoft gun in this price range has to have Hop Up. This one is mounted on the steel bolt. Dial the toothed wheel up or down to adjust the backspin on the BB.

And this answers another question — does the dust cover really work? Yes, it does — just like the firearm. The forward assist, however, is just for show. It is spring-loaded but is cosmetic, only. I still remember tap, tap, pull, tap as the mnemonic for a jammed M16 — because in my day they always did.

Virtus AEG receiver
The dust cover is up. At the left you can see the spring-loaded forward assist.

Virtus AEG Hop-Up
Retract the bolt to see the Hop-Up adjustment (arrow).

At what price?

On the Sig website they have the MCX Virtus AEG in stock at the full retail of $459.99. All the dealers I checked with who list them minus the battery and charger for $399.99 were sold out. Hmmm — might there be an axiom there?

Discussion

This is not a kid’s toy AEG. This one is serious, and Sig intended it to be. It’s heavy, solid and cold to the touch. The rest of what it is will have to wait for the next report.

Summary

We are starting to test a real high-end AEG here. This test will be thorough and long, for there is a lot to look at!


A little about o-rings

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

o-rings
An assortment of o-rings.

This report covers:

  • History
  • Flexibility is key
  • O-ring failure
  • O-rings as a face seal
  • O-ring-assortments
  • Hardness
  • Some o-ring facts
  • The seats or channels they sit in help o-rings work!
  • O-rings used other ways
  • Summary

An o-ring is a donut-shaped elastomer (pliable) seal that performs sealing functions for hydraulics and gasses. Airguns use o-rings a lot, and for different purposes. They help us enjoy our hobby with a minimum of fuss. But what do we know about them?

History

The first patent for an o-ring was by the Swedish inventor, J.O. Lundberg. It was granted in 1896. Not much is known about him, but Danish machinist, Neils Christensen who came to the U.S. in 1891, patented the o-ring in this country in 1937. No doubt his work originated from his development of a superior air brake that Westinghouse, a leader in air brake technology since George Westinghouse invented the first fail-safe railroad air brake in 1869, gained control of. In World War II the U.S. government declared the o-ring a critical mechanical seal technology and gave it to numerous manufacturers, paying Christensen a stipend of $75,000 for his rights. Long after the war was over and he had passed away his family received another $100,000

Flexibility is key

For an o-ring to work it usually needs to be flexible. One of the most noteworthy failures of an o-ring that was not flexible was the space shuttle Challenger disaster in January, 1986. Caltech physicist and Nobel laureate, Richard Feynman demonstrated that the cold experienced during launch as the rocket rose had hardened the large o-ring that sealed the right solid rocket booster to the point that it crumbled in failure. Let’s see why flexibility is so important.

o-ring
An o-ring sealed two adjoining parts (top and bottom)

o-ring under pressure
When under pressure (gas is coming from the left in this drawing), the o-ring deforms and presses against the tiny opening at the upper right, sealing it tight.

In both drawings I have made the clearances between the parts larger than it should be, to make it easier to see.

O-ring failure

O-rings don’t just fail in aerospace applications. We have seen them fail from rigidity in airguns, too. Read the report titled Crosman Mark I and II reseal to learn a lot more about them. In those two reports we saw how a hardened o-ring crumbles when it’s removed, and how a fresh one reseals the airgun instantly.

Another way an o-ring can fail is if it extrudes (gets squeezed through) the opening it is trying to seal. That happens when the ring material is too soft for the application or the tolerances between parts are too great or the o-ring channel is cut improperly.

O-rings as a face seal

We also see o-rings used as face seals in some airguns. One common use is as the breech seal of a breakbarrel airgun. I have shown you this many times as I rebuilt Diana air rifles over the years. The most recent was the Diana 27S, whose breech seal had hardened from the passage of time. When I replaced it with a fresh o-ring the rifle gained some velocity, though not the 300+ f.p.s. I initially thought.

Diana 27S breech seal
Diana breech seal.

Not all breakbarrel breech seals are o-rings, even though they may look like they are. Weihrauch has used specially designed breech seals that appear to be o-rings when they are installed, but when you examine one outside the airgun you see a big difference.

Weihrauch breech seals
Weihrauch breech seals look like o-rings when they are in the gun, but they are not.

O-ring-assortments

Beware, because here comes The Great Enabler! Several months ago I realized I was buying o-rings one at a time for projects as I needed them. That’s not the wisest thing for a dedicated airgunner to do. So I went online and searched for assortments of o-rings. I found many and it came down to two things — what did I need and how much did I want to spend? For me this is a business expense, so yes it comes out of my pocket — sort of. But when I buy something like this I get to spend it before Uncle Sam can.

When you need an o-ring they are specified by their internal diameter (ID) and the diameter of the ring material. The outside diameter (OD) of the o-ring is just given for informational purposes, because when you think about it, the ID and ring material size determine the OD automatically.

I bought an SAE assortment and a metric assortment, but because they are pliable , they will interchange if they are close. If you want to get really picky, o-rings come in aerospace standard 568 (AS568) and ISO 3601 sizes. They also come in a wide variety of materials with Buna (Nitrile), Neoprene, Urethane, Viton, Teflon (PTFE) and Silicone being some of the most common. Airgunners tend to use Buna, Teflon and Urethane. Buna is more pliable and Urethane is more resistant to tearing and abrasion.

Hardness

A lot of people use the term durometer when referring to o-rings without understanding it. A durometer is a test instrument that measures a nonmetallic material’s resistance to puncture and abrasion. The Shore scale is used. When we talk about o-rings I see the term 90 durometer tossed around a lot. A 90-durometer rating only has real meaning when matched to the Shore hardness scale to which it applies. On the Shore 00 scale a 90 rating is medium hard, while on the Shore D scale a 90 rating is extra hard — almost as hard as it gets! Your car’s tires are a zero to 10 on the Shore D scale and a 90 on the Shore 00 scale.

Some o-ring facts

1. To perform correctly, a hard o-ring needs tighter tolerances than a softer o-ring.
2. An o-ring usually needs lubrication to do its job – but not always.
3. When an o-ring seals something, it only needs to be finger-tight.
4. An o-ring can look fine yet hide a tear or a puncture that will leak under pressure.
5. An o-ring can look ratty yet still seal perfectly.
6. The durometer rating of an o-ring can change over time, as it hardens.

The seats or channels they sit in help o-rings work!

If the seats are too wide or too deep, the o-ring will not seal the joint as intended. Also, the shape of the o-ring seat or channel is somewhat important. While there is a lot of room for slop with an o-ring (that is one of their endearing qualities), you can’t get away with murder. A perfectly square channel with no radius in the corners may present sharp edges to the o-ring under pressure. It can cut the o-ring, causing it to fail quickly!

O-rings used other ways

Besides seals we find other uses for o-rings in airguns. Sometimes they are used to hold things together — sort of like precision rubber bands. I find that a lot in silencers. And a number of rotary magazines use o-rings to hold the pellets inside in place. I’m sure they are used in other ways, as well. We owe a lot to the common o-ring

Summary

There is a lot more to know than what I have presented today. These have just been some of the basics about o-rings. We deal with them so much I thought it would be nice if we knew a few things about them.


Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier-

Sen-X AR-6
Sen_X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Sights
  • Dot sight
  • Vibration
  • Safety
  • Hunting limb
  • Sight-in
  • Group
  • Damage to one arrow
  • Stopped at this point
  • Observations
  • Fletching
  • Next test
  • Summary

Wow! It has taken me a looooong time to return to the Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow. Most of the reason for the delay was the weather that never quite cooperated, but when I tried to do a test at the end of February the problem became something else altogether.

Sights

In Part 2 I showed you that the sights on the bow are primitive. There is a front post, but in the rear there is nothing to align it with except the silver spring latch on the magazine cover. There is a red laser built into the AR-6, but it cannot be seen in daylight beyond about 10 feet. With just those crude sights I managed to shoot the bow fairly well, but I wondered what better sights would do.

Dot sight

The sight I selected for the AR-6 was the UTG Reflex Micro dot. Pyramyd Air sells the red one but I have a green one that I use because a green dot is easier for me to see. The crossbow has a Picatinny rail on the front where this sight fits easily. I picked this sight for its small size. It seems to be made for this crossbow. I thought to have it sighted in within a few shots.

AR-6-with-dot
The UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight is perfectly sized to fit the AR-6 crossbow.

I sighted-in the dot sight at about 12-15 feet. Once the dot was doing well there I backed up to 10 meters and shot a magazine’s worth of confirmation shots. Then I backed up to what I now know is 18 meters.

At 18 meters the crossbow hit fairly well on the point of aim. Two arrows went together pretty close. But on the third shot I missed the arrow stop/bag altogether — something I had not done in all my previous testing of three crossbows, plus an Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun firing Air Venturi Air Bolts. All of that put over 200 shots into that bag! I heard the AR-6 arrow hit the fence behind the bag. It did not stick in the cedar wood of the fence slat, but bounced off and landed on the lawn. When I examined the arrow I could see it had bent from the force of the impact.

AR-6-bent-arrow
The metal shaft of the arrow bent from impact.

How could I have missed a target that had seemed so easy so many times before? Was the dot sight loose? I grabbed it and shook it and it was still mounted solid. But the bow limb wasn’t! It wobbled and slid in its slot, which it’s not supposed to do. If you recall in Part 1 I told you that I had to assemble the AR-6 before I could shoot it . The bow limb (what many would call the bow) had to be secured to the bow deck with a large Allen screw.

AR-6-Allen-screw
A large Allen screw holds the bow limb tight to the bow deck.

This fault came up suddenly and unexpectedly, though I imagine there were signs beforehand, if I had been looking for them. But now the bow limb was moving around like I knew it wasn’t supposed to and I remembered there being some steel shims in front of and behind the limb where the Allen screw contacted. I found the shims on the ground where I was shooting.

Vibration

The AR-6 is a completely mechanical contrivance. Every time it fires the bow limb springs forward as far as the bowstring will permit and then stops suddenly, sending vibration throughout the entire assembly. I did not appreciate that. I know that spring piston airguns vibrate, but crossbows vibrate, too. And they need the same attention to tightening their screws as do springers — especially this large one that holds the bow limb in place.

At first I was concerned that I might not get the limb back into perfect alignment. Then I remembered that I had assembled it only a few weeks before and the process is very straightforward. There are marks and guidelines on the limb and the deck to assist you.

Safety

A bigger concern for me was safety. I had never missed the arrow bag/trap before, in spite of testing numerous crossbows and arrow shooters. Two people I allowed to shoot my Sub-1 crossbow and the Wing Shot had missed the bag, but I found out afterward that neither of them understood how they should be aiming them. It’s funny how they won’t tell you beforehand that they don’t understand what you have told them to do, but after the shot goes bad they open up!

Now, I was the one who wondered whether I knew how to shoot the thing. Sure I got it together again and it seemed tight, but I had also done that before, when I assembled it out of the box the first time. Oh, woe is me! And then the hunting limb arrived from Pyramyd Air!

Hunting limb

The hunting limb increases the power of the AR-6 to about 12 foot-pounds. That doesn’t sound like much until you consider that the target limb I am testing produces a little over 8 foot pounds (8.31 foot-pounds, according to the description on the website). Then you realize the hunting limb boosts the power by almost 50 percent. Here I am languishing in fear of the target bow and there is still a more powerful bow to test. Buck up, BB. Time to get with it!

Well, weather and equipment issues slowed me down again until last Friday. Then I got a perfect day to shoot and took full advantage of it.

Sight-in

I sighted-in the dot sight again, since I had to remount the bow limb. Again I shot from 12-15 feet, then 10 meters and finally from the same 18 meters as before. When I was finished the bow was shooting to the point of aim at 18 meters.

I had used the same arrows for all earlier shooting, as well as sighting-in this time. The fletching on those arrows was pretty much gone.

AR-6-fletching
The same arrows, shot perhaps 15-20 times each, had lost much of their fletching.

So, I decided to use 4 new arrows to shoot at 18 meters. Would they shoot to the same place as the arrows I used for sight-in? Only one way to find out! Watch the video.

Group

Three arrows went into 2.552-inches at 18 meters. The fourth arrow opened the group to 3.827-inches. All of this was shot offhand, as you saw in the video.

Damage to one arrow

The arrows sank deep into the target bag. The first shot went in beyond the beginning of the fletching and peeled back both synthetic “feathers” of either side of the arrow. I think there are now so many holes in the target bag that the smaller AR-6 arrows have an easier time sinking in.

AR-6-fletching damaged
This new arrow sank into the target bag deep enough to peel back the synthetic fletching on the first shot.

Stopped at this point

I ended the test at this point. Though the film shows only the final 4 shots, I shot about 15 other times to get the crossbow sighted in. At this point in this series I have made several observations.

Observations

The new arrows shot to a lower point than the ones with damaged fletching. I need to correct the dot sight to account for that.

The fletching on the arrows is subject to damage from penetrating the target bag too deeply. I now have many straight arrow shafts that are in need of repair. I will also look for ways to mitigate the damage, if possible.

The new arrows hit lower on target than the old arrows with damaged fletching. This is possibly because the full fletching creates higher drag on each arrow. I should shoot this bow again and adjust for the new arrows.

After 19 shots the Allen screw is still tight and the bow limb is still locked in place. I need to continue to check that from now on.

Fletching

The word fletching means feathers, which were used on arrows in times past to create high drag and spin. The synthetic fletchings found on the AR-6 are called vanes and are sold by many places, along with the glue to hold them to the arrow shaft. This is something I need to research so I can repair my damaged arrows. I will tell you about it as I go.

Next test

I plan to shoot the bow again with fresh new arrows and adjust the dot sight to hit with them. I believe I can shoot 5 arrows offhand into a group smaller than three inches from 18 meters. That will be the completion of my sight-in with the dot sight.

After that I plan to switch the bow limb to the hunting limb that also came with a new bowstring. Then I will run the same tests that I have with this bow limb, except I will start with the dot sight mounted.

Summary

I did discover that my AR-6  works fine with 5 arrows or less in the magazine, but if I load a 6th arrow that it is supposed to work with, it malfunctions. That was probably my fault, because I accidentally bent the magazine spring that holds the arrows down and feeds them, when I closed the mag cover with the spring not inside. I could probably fix it but I don’t mind using it as is, and it does work just fine with 5 arrows.

The AR-6 crossbow pistol is a blast to shoot. It is to crossbows what the Diana 27 is the pellet rifles. There are many that are more powerful, but none that are more fun. I don’t think it has to justify itself by being a hunting arm. Can’t something exist just for the fun of shooting?


Crosman MAR 177: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman MAR
The MAR177 from Crosman.

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Baseline with Hobbys
  • Today’s test
  • What is the average?
  • Second page of numbers
  • What does “estimate 601” on page 2 mean?
  • But — what is the average velocity?
  • Photos
  • Pressure gauge and fill pressure
  • Big lesson
  • Balanced valve
  • How do I know the ending air pressure?
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Loading problems
  • Loudness
  • Summary

Today I test the velocity of the MAR177 I’m reviewing, and I have a baseline from the 2012 test I did, with which to compare it. Some of you asked me what velocity to expect. Well, it is all in the 6-part review I did on the first MAR177. Look at Part 3 of that series for the velocity test. 

Baseline with Hobbys

In that 2012 test I got an average of 609 f.p.s. from RWS Hobbys and the velocity varied by 32 f.p.s. The low was 593 f.p.s. and the high was 625 f.p.s. I got a shot count of 124 shots on one fill.

Today’s test

Today I shot 160 Hobbys on a fill. The fill pressure ranged from a high of 3200 psi to a low of about 2200 psi — according to my accurate carbon fiber tank gauge. Those starting and ending pressures are well above the pressure range of the first gun (which was 2900 psi to 1600 psi).

In those 160 shots my highest velocity was shot number 106 that registered 604 f.p.s. My lowest velocity was shots number 156 that registered 571 f.p.s. That is a spread of 33 f.p.s. for 160 shots. However, I thought the rifle fell off the power curve on shot number 145, where the velocity was 578 f.p.s. If I take the first 140 shots, the low was 580 f.p.s and the high was 604 f.p.s. That is a spread of 24 f.p.s. I can live with that.

What is the average?

I didn’t tell you the average velocity for Hobby pellets, did I?  The reason I didn’t is because of the huge amount of data I collected. Let me show you.

50 shots
These are the velocities of the first 50 shots.

100 shots
Shots 51-100.

150 shots
Shots 101-150.

160 shots
Shots 151-160.

There is no way I am entering that data into WordPress, because when I edit, the software makes me highlight EACH NUMBER, click backspace/delete and then hold down the Shift key and click Return! For EACH NUMBER!!!

If you are reading this on a smartphone you had best learn how to scroll because I am going to refer to those numbers A LOT!

Second page of numbers

Let’s look at shots number 91 and 92 at the top right of the second page. Why is the velocity 492 f.p.s.? Because I double-loaded a pellet by mistake! So — yes, it is possible to load more than 1 pellet, and I disregarded that velocity for this test. The average for that column is the lower 8 shots.

What does “estimate 601” on page 2 mean?

By the time I had fired 70 shots I saw the velocity start to rise and, at the time, I thought this rifle was going to average in the 600s with Hobbys. So I wrote my estimate of what the third column velocity average would be before shooting the string and then I took a picture of that page — so you could see that I was just guessing. And I missed the average velocity by 5 f.p.s.

estimate
I estimated what the next string’s average velocity would be.

But — what is the average velocity?

I’m not going to enter all those numbers again and find the average. But, if I take the averages for each string of shots from number 1 to 140 and combine them to find the average for all of those averages, that number is 594 f.p.s. I’m calling that the average velocity at which this MAR177 shoots 140 RWS Hobby pellets — with a low of 580 to a high of 604 f.p.s. It’s very close to the true average, if not right on. At that average velocity Hobbys developed 5.49 foot-pounds of energy.

The first MAR I tested in 2012 averaged 609 f.p.s. with Hobbys over 124 shots on one fill and this one averages 594 f.p.s. over 140 shots on a fill. The first MAR177 varied velocity of Hobbys by 32 f.p.s. over its range, this one varies 24 f.p.s. over its range. The first gun was faster and this one gets more shots per fill and is more consistent. But the tests of both guns give you a good idea of how the MAR177 performs.

Photos

Normally there aren’t any photos on velocity day. This time I took 22 photos — 18 of the pressure gauge before and after every ten shots. I will now show you a few of those but I won’t overload you.

Pressure gauge and fill pressure

I’ve already said that the valve in this MAR177 uses higher pressure than the first one I tested. It also uses higher pressure than the manual recommends. The manual says that 2900 psi is the maximum fill pressure. I filled to 3200 psi this time to get both the top and bottom of the power curve. That was the pressure I saw on my carbon fiber tank gauge when the fill was complete. Look at what the onboard gauge said.

fill
The onboard gauge read this when my accurate tank gauge said 3,200 psi. The needle is close to 3400 psi.

first string
After the first 10 shots the gauge read this.

50 shots
After 50 shots the gauge read like this.

100 shots
After 100 shots the gauge read like this.

140 shots
After 140 shots the gauge read like this. I am calling this the end of the power curve. This is as low as I will let the onboard gauge get when shooting the MAR.

160 shots
After 160 shots on one fill, this is what the onboard gauge read. 

Big lesson

This gauge illustrates a really big lesson. Do not go by what the small onboard gauge on your PCP says, unless you have tested it and know it’s right. When I worked at AirForce I took all the complaint calls and after the Condor came out many of them were complaining that the Condor wasn’t giving them all the performance they paid for. How did they know? They pressurized their rifle to 3,000 psi on their tank’s gauge (AirForce rifles did not have gauges on them in those days) and the velocity was way too low. I told them to keep shooting the rifle until the velocity increased to over 1,200 f.p.s. with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers and then I told them how to determine how much pressure their rifle needed to get that speed. Some were happy with that, but others insisted that they weren’t getting what they paid for if the gun did not perform at 3,000 psi. I had no good answer for them.

Their rifles got 20 good shots with .22-caliber Premiers at over 1,200 f.p.s. and yet they thought they were getting shortchanged because the gun wasn’t doing it at 3,000 psi on their gauge. Did they think they would get MORE shots at that velocity with the higher pressure? No, they wouldn’t. Some even knew that because they had tested the rifle before calling in.

What they were saying, in effect, was their new C8 Corvette may be capable of going 194 m.p.h., according to a calibrated radar gun, but when they do, the speedometer in the car only reads 177 m.p.h. Well — which do you want, a 194 m.p.h. car with a speedo that’s not quite right and sells for under $60,000, or a 194 m.p.h. car whose precision speedometer also reads 194 m.p.h. , making the car retail for $74,000? Some guys can adapt and others can’t.

There — I got that off my chest. Until someone else says the same thing.

Balanced valve

What you are seeing with the MAR177 is the result of a balanced valve. Did Crosman set it up just for me? Not unless they have a Wayback machine or a crystal ball! I bought this New Old Stock air rifle off Ebay five years after Crosman stopped making them. This is what can be done with a PCP when: 

1. The engineer knows what he is doing, and 
2. The velocity is kept low.

How do I know the ending air pressure?

Okay, smart guys. Wanna tell BB how he knows that the ending air pressure (after 140 shots) is really 2,200 psi and not what it says on the gun’s gauge (just under 2100 psi)? This is a test and you will be graded. Do not look on anyone else’s paper.

Air Arms Falcons

I tested Air Arms Falcon pellets next. This time I pressurized the rifle to 2900 psi (using my carbon fiber tank gauge) and only shot a string of 10 for each pellet that follows. I’ll start with the Falcon.

Ten Falcon pellets averaged 611 f.p.s. The low was 590 and the high was 617, so a difference of 27 f.p.s. At the average velocity Falcons developed 6.08 foot-pounds of energy.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

Next to be tested were 10 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. They averaged 619 f.p.s. with a spread from 609 to 627 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 18 f.p.s. At the average velocity the R10 Match Pistol pellet develops 5.96 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

H&N Finale Match Light

The last pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Light. It was also the heaviest pellet. They averaged 592 f.p.s. with a spread that went from 586 to 598 f.p.s. — a difference of 12 f.p.s. At the average velocity this 7.87-grain pellet developed 6.13 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Loading problems

While I was testing the last three pellets I encountered a problem with loading some of the pellets. Even the Falcon domes did it. If I held the rifle with the muzzle pointed up, sometimes the pellets would jam as I tried to close the bolt. I played with this for a while before discovering that if the rifle is held level it never happens. Just hold the rifle like you are shooting at a target and it feeds fine!

Loudness

Sorry to tell you this guys but this MAR177 rates a 1.8 on the Pyramyd Air loudness scale. It is one of the quietest air rifles I have ever tested. A Red Ryder is quieter, but not by much!

Summary

So far this old gem is performing well. It’s even better than I remember — thanks mostly to my Geissele trigger, but also to the efficient use of air.

The first accuracy test comes next. I can’t wait!


The Webley Hurricane: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hurricane
Webley Hurricane

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Remember
  • The test
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy 
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • Firing behavior
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Gamo Match
  • H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head
  • Summary

Today we see the accuracy of the Webley Hurricane. I have to tell you, this has never been a particularly accurate airgun in the past, so I’m not looking for much today. I will do my best though.

Remember…

No — I am not carrying Mr. Spock’s katra — Star Trek III, The Search for Spock. I want you to remember what I am trying to do with this report.

One thing I’m especially interested in with the Hurricane is how well the Extreme Weapons Grease performs. I used it on all the places where there was galling of the metal. You can read about that in Part 3. Normally I would have used moly grease, but I had a small tube of this stuff that was given to me at some SHOT Show and I decided to see if it was really up to the task. So I’m watching how smoothly the pistol cocks.

The test

For this test I shot from a rest at 10 meters. Many years ago I learned that the Hurricane likes a two-hand hold with the forearms resting on a sandbag for stability. That was the way I held the airgun throughout this entire test.  I wore 1.25+ reading glasses that let me see the front sight sharp and still let me see the 10-meter pistol bull well enough from 10 meters. Let’s get on with it.

H&N Finale Match Light

First up for no special reason were H&N Finale Match Light pellets. To my recollection I have never shot these pellets in this gun before. I pulled the first shot and marked it on the target. The next shot went into the bottom of the bull and then the final three dropped below the bull in a smaller group. It felt like I was getting accustomed to the pistol so I fired a second five shots, expecting to see a small group with the last three of the first group. Instead what I got was a splatter pattern. Ten Finale Match Light pellets went into 1.817-inches at 10 meters. It’s not a great start, but at least we are shooting.

Finale Light group
Ten H&N Finale Match Light pellets went into 1.817-inches at 10 meters. I circled the shot that was a called pull.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy 

The second pellet I tested was the all-tin Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet. From this point on I am only shooting 5 shots per target. Five of these went into 1.404-inches at 10 meters. As you can see they hit the target a lot higher and slightly to the left.

Sig Alloy group
The Webley Hurricane put five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets in 1.404-inches at 10 meters.

Air Arms Falcon

Next to be tried were five Air Arms Falcon pellets. They went into a vertical group that measured 1.815-inches between centers. It’s almost as big as the 10-shot group of Finale Match Light pellets. This is not the pellet for the Hurricane.

Falcon group
Five Air Arms Falcons went into a vertical 1.815-inch group at 10 meters.

Firing behavior

At this point I must note that the Hurricane fires smoother than before. Not a lot smoother because it never was that rough, but without any vibration whatsoever! That is new. It also cocks without the hint of galling. Cocking is very smooth, though no lighter than before — except when the galling became real pronounced right before I tuned it. I am very satisfied with the way it now performs.

The trigger feels a little lighter. I did lube it with moly when the gun was apart. Now there is just a hint of creep and then the trigger breaks cleanly. It was quite easy to get used to, and once I did I was shooting as well as I’m able.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

Next up were five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. They went into a group that measures 1.51-inches between centers. It’s low on the paper but centered on the bull.

R10 Pistol group
Five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 1.51-inches at 10 meters.

Gamo Match

I just got a tin of these Gamo Match pellets from Pyramyd Air, so let’s see how they do in a Hurricane. Five went into 2.215-inches at 10 meters. That’s the largest group of the test — even larger than the group of 10 H&N Match Light pellets I shot at the beginning! I guess Gamo Match pellets are out!

Gamo Match group
Wow! Gamo match are not so good. five in 2.215-inches at 10 meters.

Well, I was let down. Yes the best of these groups are as good as the groups I got before, but as sweet as this pistol is now shooting, I was hoping for something a little better. Because I shot mostly 5-shot groups in this test I was still fresh enough for one more, so I selected a pellet that is probably the wrong-est pellet for a pistol of this power that there is.

H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head

The last pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head. They are way too heavy for an air pistol of this power! What could the Hurricane do with them? Well, they landed an inch below the bullseye and in line with the center. Five are in a group that measures 1.346-inches between centers. It’s the smallest group of the test!

Baracuda group
Five H&N Baracudas made this 1.346-inch group at 10 meters.

The Hurricane put 5 H&N Baracuda pellets into a 1.346-inch group at 10 meters. It’s the smallest group of the test, and smaller than the best group I shot perviously with this pistol, though I don’t have measurements for that group. It was a 10-shot group of RWS Hobbys and it looks like about a 2.2-inch group. Who is to say what happened years ago with a different pellet and a different number of shots, but today’s results look better than that group that was formerly the best.

Webley Hurricane Hobby
Years ago this 2.2-inch group of ten Hobbys was the best I could do with this Hurricane.

Summary

Well, this was a thorough test of the Webley Hurricane. And this one involved a teardown and lube tune. We learned that Tune in a Tube doesn’t take that much velocity away when it is used lightly, but it does require something of a break-in afterward.

We also learned that the grease known as Extreme Weapons Grease is a tough product that stands up to pressure during operation. Or at least it has stood up so far.

All said and done, the Webley Hurricane is a fine air pistol. Now that I know how to take one apart, I may look for others to tune. Or perhaps a Tempest?


With airguns home IS the range! — Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Texas star
Shooting in the back yard can be fun when you have action targets like Sig’s Texas Star.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Can you shoot?
  • What to shoot
  • Quiet!
  • What about air pistols?
  • What about PCP and CO2?
  • Power
  • What to shoot
  • Plenty of action targets
  • Make them yourself
  • Get out

Are you bored out of your gourd with the quarantine restrictions? Have you seen enough TV for two lifetimes. Come on, then. Let’s go outside!

Today we move outside with our Home is the Range airgun shooting. And not into a spacious yard that most of us would like to have — maybe one that abuts a thousand square miles of BLM land. I know some of you have a place like that, but the rest of us live on postage stamps that are bordered by high fences.

Can you shoot?

The first question you need to answer is whether you can legally shoot in your back yard. This varies for every community around the nation, so all I can say is find out the law where you live.

Some communities will allow airguns to shoot as long as their projectiles don’t cross the property line. That is a reasonable law that keeps neighbors safe, and it’s one that I follow. But I take it a step farther. Don’t think of the fence on your property line as a backstop. Shoot into the ground on your property in such a way that any chance ricochets will hit the fence and stop. That means shooting down. If you own an elevated deck, so much the better! That increases your safety, as long as there aren’t large rocks on your property.

I could go farther, but I think I have made my point. As a shooter safety is your responsibility.

What to shoot

This is where it gets dicey. As my late aunt once said, “Common sense isn’t that common.” I will preach to you readers who will understand, but there is a whole world of others who haven’t got a clue. They think just because it’s an airgun it isn’t real and they are too quick to say, “I didn’t know!” There is no reset button for life. As shooters it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety of others around us.

Quiet!

Shoot something that’s quiet. That’s just respectful. I shoot airguns like my Diana 27 that is barely as loud as a coughing mouse, and you should too. I won’t tell you what powerplant to select, but whatever it is, it needs to be quiet.

For today’s report I invited my neighbor, Denny, to plink with me in the back yard. I let him shoot the Diana 27 and I shot a Walther LGV Challenger that I reviewed for you back in 2013. Both rifles are in .22 caliber, which makes loading the pellets easier, and both are mild airguns. Oddly the Diana 27 sounds louder to me in the video than the Walther, even though the Walther shoots the same JSB Exact RS pellet about 100 f.p.s. faster. You will see what that means when you watch the reaction of the target we both shot.

What about air pistols?

The key word to back yard shooting is quiet, so if you have an air pistol that’s quiet, go ahead. A Webley Tempest would be quiet. But since pistols are so easy to point anywhere, you have to control your range all the more. If it’s just you then it’s easy to control, but every other person who shoots increases the chances for an accident. With pistols the accidents can happen before you can see them coming, so find ways to play safe.

What about PCP and CO2?

You can shoot both precharged pneumatics and CO2 guns, as long as they are quiet. For example, a Crosman 1077 is reasonably quiet. So is a Benjamin Fortitude Gen 2. But don’t let quiet be your only concern. Some PCPs can be very quiet and still extremely powerful. Don’t allow quiet operation to overrule safety.

Power

There is no way to set a power limit for what’s safe in the back yard and what’s not, but I would say that staying under 12 foot-pounds for rifles and 6 foot-pounds for pistols is a good place to start. My LGV Challenger is just under 12 foot-pounds and the Diana 27 (Hy Score 427) is about 7 foot-pounds.

What to shoot

This is where it gets good. Indoors I like to shoot at paper targets because they work well with pellet traps and they don’t allow pellets to scatter around the floor. But outdoors is a different story. This is where action targets come into play.

In the video you will notice that Denny and I are both shooting at an Air Arms sight-in target. There is a large paddle at the bottom and, if you can shoot through the hole in the four square paddles in front of it, the rear paddle will spin. Denny hit it with the Diana and moved it a little, but I smacked it on my first shot and sent it spinning. Then I missed and smacked the upper right quadrant of the target, and you got to see how this action target helps you get sighted-in. These used to be popular on field target courses for checking zeros.

Plenty of action targets

But there are plenty of other airgun targets to choose from for this kind of shooting. I prefer the type you can set and forget because they keep on doing their thing without any attention. That allows you to shoot without interruption. One such target is the Air Venturi Rockin’ Rat. When I tested it I discovered that it wants to be hit hard to react. I tried an 8.5 foot-pound Benjamin Wildfire, thinking I would bounce the rat all around, but it just stood there and took it. Hit this one with at least 12 foot-pounds to get a reaction.

Rockin rat
Air Venturi’s Rockin’ Rat just sits there and takes it! Keep your power at or below 20 foot-pounds, and remember that it takes at least 12 foot-pounds to get it moving.

Air Venturi’s Crazy Eights spinner is a game that is resettable when all the paddles have been flipped up. This is another tyoe of a target you don’t need to attend.

Crazy Eights
Air Venturi’s Crazy Eights is a resetting spinner target.

Make them yourself

Of course if you are handy you can make action targets for yourself. We have seen several of them in this blog — from the dueling tree made by reader New To Old Guns to the spinner made by reader Codeuce.

Or — don’t make anything at all. Shoot at feral aluminum soda cans. We talk about that all the time on this blog. They don’t even need to be soda cans. Other beverages come in aluminum cans, too. Weight the cans with stones to hold them in place, or not.

Shoot at plastic Army men! Though if you do shoot at them I recommend you tether each one to a 10-penny nail with fishing line. Otherwise they can be launched into low earth orbit!

Get out

The point is, there is lots to do outdoors with the right pellet guns. Be safe and considerate, but as Crosman says in their ads — Take it Outside!