by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman MAR
The MAR177 from Crosman.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • What happened?
  • Second group with Sig Match Alloy
  • What to do?
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • The trigger
  • Do triggers affect accuracy?
  • Ten Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • RWS Hobby
  • Qiang Yuan Olympic
  • Discussion
  • The rear sight does adjust!
  • Summary

I finally managed to schedule for a minute past midnight, so that is back to normal. Today’s report is a follow-on from last Friday’s report. I am still testing the Crosman MAR177 target rifle’s accuracy with the sights that came with it. And I learned something big today. I hope it will help all of you with your shooting.

Actually, I learned two big things today. I had a stupident that I hope will help the rest of you.

The test

I said at the end of Part 4 that I wanted to test the MAR again, and perhaps with different pellets. That test happens today.

Once again I shot the rifle from a rest at 10 meters. The test was identical to what I did last Friday, and I started with the pellet that proved to be the best — the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutter.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

This rifle was already sighted in as much as I was going to (read what I think about adjusting M16/AR-15 sights in the Part 4 section titled “Sighting in the MAR”), so I just shot the first group. I was relaxed and ready to shoot. Last Friday the MAR put five of these pellets into 0.152-inches at 10 meters. This time five went into 0.492-inches. Disgraceful!

Sig Match Alloy target
Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy target pellets made this 0.492-inch group at 10 meters. Previously all five pellets had gone into an area the size of the central hole in this group.

What happened?

Am I loosing it? Can I not hold a good group anymore? Am I too old to be shooting? I have to shoot another group to disprove all the unkind thoughts that are running through my mind right now.

Second group with Sig Match Alloy

I concentrated more on the second group. This time I put 5 in 0.339-inches which is better. Better, but not good. If this pellet can put 5 into 0.152-inches it ought to put 10 into 0.20 inches, or so. It shouldn’t just fall apart this way.

Sig Match Alloy target 2
The second target with Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets was better, but not that good. Five pellets are 0.339-inches apart, c-t-c.

Find a Hawke Scope

What to do?

At this point it was looking like the fault rested with me. I decided to try a different pellet, one that worked well in the first MAR. The Air Arms Falcon pellet is a dome that did very well in 2012.

Air Arms Falcon

I shot 5 Falcons into 0.36-inches. While that is no better than the previous group, something remarkable happened during this group. Let’s look at the group first and then I want to talk to you.

Falcon target
Five Air Arms Falcon pellets went into 0.36-inches at 10 meters. Not a particularly great group, but something great happened while I was shooting it.

The trigger

Remember I said in Part 4 that I had to get used to the Geisselle trigger all over again each time I shot the MAR? That was the key! While I was shooting the first group of Falcon pellets I suddenly focused on the trigger and all my problems went away. The Geisselle trigger is what caused the open groups in the first three targets!

The trigger has a very heavy first stage that’s followed by a second stage that breaks with just 8 ounces more pressure. I said earlier that stage two feels crisp, but that was a mistake. Not only is it not crisp, the Geisselle trigger’s second stage is very creepy when compared to a good airgun trigger. For an AR trigger I suppose it’s okay, but I am shooting the MAR like it is a target rifle and the trigger is not helping me one bit. It is fooling me, which is why I have to reacquaint myself with the trigger every time I shoot the MAR.

I discovered that while shooting the third target of 5 Falcons, and I was so certain that I had found the answer that I shot ten Falcons at the next target. They grouped in 0.254-inches, c-t-c. That’s right, TEN pellets landed in a group that is 0.106-inches SMALLER than five of the same pellets shot just before! And that was all because I now knew how to shoot the Geisselle trigger!

Falcon target 2
Ten Falcon pellets went into 0.254-inches at 10 meters, once I used the Geisselle trigger correctly.

Do triggers affect accuracy?

I have always maintained that triggers do not affect accuracy. They only affect how easy it is to be accurate. Well, that is only partially true, and because of that it is entirely wrong. In Part 4 and now again in Part 5, I have twice been fooled by the trigger at the beginning of the test. Once I learned the trick I have been able to snap back and shoot better. This Geisselle trigger has been a harsh learning tool for old BB!

I always thought in terms of triggers with heavy pulls. Shooters complain about Mauser and Springfield military rifle 2-stage triggers that break at 5 and 6 pounds, and I have had no trouble shooting well with them. But this Geisselle trigger has a heavy first stage that conceals a light but very creepy stage two that has been foiling my attempts at accuracy. Now that I knew stage two is creepy I could deal with it, and I did! I treated it just as I would a creepy single-stage trigger.

Ten Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Now that I knew the trigger I fired 10 Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets next. They did so well in Part 4. Well I must have pulled one of the shots because what I got was nine shots in 0.319-inches, with a lone shot opening the group to 0.509-inches — all at 10 meters. It was not a called pull, but I think you can agree that it was me and not the rifle.

Sig Match Alloy target 3
Nine Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 0.319-inches at 10 meters, with the tenth shot opening the group to 0.509-inches.

RWS Hobby

Remember I said I wanted to try some pellets I hadn’t shot before? I have already tried Falcons, so RWS Hobbys were next. Ten of them went into 0.304-inches at 10 meters. That’s surprisingly good for what is considered a practice pellet.

Hobby target
Ten RWS Hobby pellets made this nice round 0.304-inch group at 10 meters.

Qiang Yuan Olympic

The last pellet I tested was the Qiang Yuan Olympic target pellet. They did second-best in the Part 4 test, with 5 going into 0.226-inches. In this test the MAR177 put 10 in 0.255-inches at the same 10 meters.

Chinese Olympic target
Ten Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets went into 0.255-inches — the second smallest group of this test!

Discussion

I learned a valuable lesson about triggers in this test. They can cause inaccuracy in a way I never anticipated. People have been telling me that for years and I always argued against it, but now I see that I was wrong. This Geisselle trigger faked me out with a heavy first stage that concealed a creepy stage two. I was firing before I was ready! And I am not done confessing my mistakes.

The rear sight does adjust!

A reader named Bruce contacted me through my website to tell me that I was mistaken about the rear sight not adjusting. I then argued with him in the comments on the blog. But he was adamant and contacted me a second time off the blog to get my attention. Well, he got it!

I examined the MAR177 rear sight and saw that it clearly does adjust for elevation. Why did I think it didn’t? Was it the manual?

Well, the manual does clearly state that the rear sight adjusts for elevation, but it also goes into a lot of detail about adjusting the front sight. I think I had a flashback to my Army days when I read that and started remembering the bad old days. I ignored the rear sight instructions in the manual and was back at Fort Lewis in 1968 again. Thank you, Bruce, for keeping after me on this. It really does make a huge difference. Now I can shoot from 25 yards as so many readers have asked, and use the open sights as well as a scope.

MAR rear sight
The MAR177 rear sight does, indeed, adjust for elevation. My thanks to reader Bruce, for calling my attention to this fact.

The bottom line is when I make a mistake like this I want it to be brought out. The purpose of this blog is to instruct, period. BB Pelletier is just the imperfect tool that’s used to do it.

Summary

I told you at the beginning of this report that today would be special. I hope it has been. The rear sight oversight is a mistake anyone can make. Now that we are aware of it, the record of the MAR is more complete.

It’s the trigger lesson that really upset me. Oh, I can still work with almost any trigger devised by man. I’m just surprised that it took me so long to figure this one out.

What’s up next? I think next I will back up to 25 yards and give you all what so many have asked for. Now that I can adjust the rear sight, it won’t be difficult to get on target at this distance.