How airsoft and BB gun magazines work

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. Today he tells us how airsoft and BB magazines work.

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

Okay — take it away 45Bravo!

Ian McKee
Writing as 45Bravo

How Airsoft and detachable BB gun magazines work

This report covers:

  • It’s a replica thing
  • Low/mid capacity
  • Most of them are very similar
  • Magazine capacities
  • High capacity
  • It’s high capacity clockwork!
  • Summary
  • Coming in the future

It’s a replica thing

A lot of replica air guns have removable magazines to replicate the look and function of the actual firearm they are copied from. 

magazine lineup
From left to right, is a real 5.56/.223 30 round magazine, a 70 round mid-capacity mag, a “20 round” mag that actually holds 150 rounds of airsoft ammo, a 300 round mag, and a 850 round “fatmag”.

Both airsoft and BB guns, use the same magazine design. The only difference being the size of the projectile being used.

As much we would hate to admit it, many of our replica BB guns were first produced as airsoft guns. A LOT more replica airsoft guns are sold, compared to the replica BB gun market, partly because of laws in many countries that have more stringent regulations on BB guns than they do on airsoft. And parents perceive that the plastic airsoft projectile is less dangerous than steel BBs.  

Low/mid capacity

Spring-powered models that have to be manually cocked for every shot, normally have a full sized magazine that holds just 15-30 of the airsoft projectiles in a single column stack, and the magazine sometimes has small metal inserts inside to give the magazine some extra weight. 

low cap mags
Here are two low-capacity airsoft magazines.

Some CO2 BB guns like the Umarex Legends PPK/S, have a small removable stick magazine and keep the CO2 inside the gun, while some designs like the Sig We The People 1911 BB pistol, and the Crosman SBR (short barreled rifle) have a removable full size magazine that holds the CO2 and the BBs together in one removable unit. 

SBR mag
The magazine for Crosman’s short-barreled rifle (SBR).

Most of them are very similar

But no matter how the airguns function, the BB feed mechanism in the magazine is the same, the projectiles are held in a channel, either single stack, or double stacked, and have a spring-driven follower that pushes the projectiles up to the feed lips, ready to be fed into the chamber when needed.

1911 magazines
Do they look similar? The one on the left is from the Sig We The People BB pistol, the other one is from an airsoft 1911 I have used for over 10 years.

1911 magazines detail
This detail shot shows the similarities much better.

Magazine capacities

Airsofters that are into military simulation games (Mil-Sim), like to use a magazine that features a similar capacity as the firearm it replicates. That way the number of their magazine exchanges  plus their load out (the number of magazines they must carry) matches their real world counterparts.

High capacity

Some magazines for automatic electric guns (AEG) use what is called a mid-cap mag, where the channel that holds the projectiles under spring pressure is longer, and may hold 60-100 projectiles. One of the advantages of a mid-cap magazine is since the BBs are under constant spring pressure, they don’t rattle when you run.

midcap and hi-cap mags
There is a spring loaded tab at the top of each magazine to keep the BBs in place until the magazine is loaded into the gun. The mid-cap mag. is on the left.

midcap inside
The BBs are under constant spring pressure while inside the mid-capacity magazine.

The most common type of magazine for the electric guns are high capacity or “high-cap” magazines. They can hold anywhere from 150 to 1000 rounds or more, depending on the size of the reservoir that holds the projectiles before feeding them into the feed channel. 

magazine bottoms
From left to right, is a “20 round” mag that actually holds 150 rounds of airsoft ammo, a 300 round mag, and a 850 round “fatmag”.

It’s high capacity clockwork!   

The high -cap magazines have a hopper that you pour the airsoft BBs into, and normally they have a wheel on the bottom of the magazine that you wind to compress a clockwork style spring that drives the feed mechanism to feed the BBs from the hopper to the gun. 

highcap mag wheel
That toothed wheel (arrow) is wound to compress a spring that pushes the loose BBs up toward the feed lips of the magazine.

As you wind the magazine wheel on the bottom, you hear clicks that are the anti reversing mechanism that keeps the spring from unwinding.  When the magazine is fully wound, a clutch in the winding assembly causes the wheel to “slip” and you hear the clicking sound different. The magazine is fully wound at that point, and you can normally empty the contents of the magazine without winding more. 

Unlike the other magazines that may have the gas stored in them, the high-cap magazines just hold and feed the projectiles. As the gun cycles, it strips off the top projectile, feeding it into the chamber. It doesn’t matter if the gun is electrically operated, or run from compressed air, or CO2 from a remote tank.

mag wheel in magazine
The magazine wheel in the magazine.

high cap mag insides
The insides are all the same, the larger magazine shells just hold more of the projectiles.

As you can see, they all have the same basic components. The highcap magazines hold the projectiles in the open areas and feed them into the feeding channel, and then into the hopup/nozzle area of the gun, as they are fired.

hi-cap mag feeding
Here you see how the hi-cap mag. takes the loose airsoft BBs and organizes them into a feed channel. That spring you wound with the exposed wheel powers this internal mechanism.

The major downside of a high capacity magazine, if you are playing in an airsoft game, is once you start shooting, there is open space in the hopper area of the magazine, and the bbs rattle when you run. So when you run from cover to cover, you sound like you have a half empty container of Tic Tacs in your pocket.   

By these photos, you would think all airsoft guns are based on the AR-15/M4 platform, but you would be wrong. These were just the magazines I had on hand. Magazines of all capacities can be had for any replica, AK47 & AK74, FN-p90, HKMP5, FNFAL, HKG3, MP7, Thompson M1A1, M14 (ALL of these replica machine guns, and others not listed do come with the giggle switch here in America.)

Summary

If you can think it, it has probably been made into an airsoft gun, with magazines and gearboxes adapted to feed it and fire it. 

Airsoft replicas are available from a Mosin Nagant 91/30, to an electrically operated M134 multi barreled minigun!

M134 minigun
Here is a $3,840 M134 airsoft minigun!

Coming in the future

In a future article, we will cover airsoft gearbox types, and other types of airsoft power plants. 

Cheers,

Ian


The Benjamin Cayden: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Cayden
Benjamin Cayden sidelever repeater.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Adjusting the power
  • DonnyFL Ronin silencer
  • Velocity on high power
  • Velocity on medium power
  • Velocity on low power
  • The trigger
  • Crosman Premiers
  • Shot count
  • Summary

This was a fun test because the Benjamin Cayden gives me lots of things to do. Some, like adjustable power, are things I have dealt with in the past and I’ve figured out good ways to handle them. Others, like the sound of the unmoderated gun firing, are not things I usually deal with. And I have a new sound meter to collect data on that! Let’s get right into the test.

The test

Since the Cayden has adjustable power I thought I would test it with a single pellet and the setting on high, medium and low. That would give us a good idea about the power range as well as the stability at all power ranges. I will also keep track of the reservoir pressure and try to get a shot count, though. as we go.

Adjusting the power

When I got the rifle the power was set high, but not as high as it will go. That was the first thing to do and I discovered that the power adjustment knob doesn’t stick out far enough for me to adjust the power. It’s too close to the wood in the stock for me to get a hold on it, and it turns with some resistance. I had to use the needle-nosed pliers on my Gerber Crucial multi-tool. I worked as carefully as I know how but of course I scratched some of the finish on the knob and the surrounding wood. I set the power as high as it will go and loaded the 12-shot rotary magazine with 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. These 18.13-grain pellets seem ideal for the Cayden’s power level. There are no detents in the power adjustment knob, so the settings can be set wherever you like between both limits. 

The first shot was fired with the rifle exactly as it came from the box. All I did was fill it to 3,000 psi, load the magazine and start shooting. I set my smart phone with the sound meter app up three feet to the left of the muzzle and fired. The sound was loud for sure, but not as loud as I had been anticipating. I would rate it a 4.2 on the 5-point Pyramyd Air noise scale. My sound meter recorded it as 108 dB.

my Cayden
The Cayden I am testing came with straight grain. It’s still handsome! To attach a silencer the muzzle brake must be removed.

Cayden sound unsilencedThe full-power shot registered 108 dB on my sound meter 3 feet from the muzzle.

DonnyFL Ronin silencer

Cameron Brinkerhoff of AirForce Airguns loaned me a DonnyFL Ronin silencer to use with the Cayden. It’s 2-inches in diameter and 6.5 inches long. The rifle looks different with it installed.

Cayden silencer
As you see, the DonnyFL Ronin silencer is large. And it works!

With the silencer installed, the muzzle report from the Cayden on full power was 85.6 dB. That’s a 22.4 dB reduction, which is about what a normal silencer can do. But the Cayden isn’t that loud to begin with, and at 85.6 it’s quieter than most lower-powered breakbarrel spring rifles. It turns the Cayden into a suburban back yard air rifle. On lower power it is even quieter, and we will soon see what we get with lower power.

Cayden silenced
With the DonnyFL silencer installed the report was quieted to 85.6 dB.

Velocity on high power

Let’s see what this Cayden rifle gives us. Ten of the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets averaged 857 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 850 to a high of 865 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 15 f.p.s., which isn’t bad! At the average velocity this pellet generates 29.57 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Velocity on medium power

Next I turned the power down to about halfway between low and high. At that setting ten of the same JSB Jumbo Heavy pellets averaged 715 f.p.s. The low was 703 and the high was 724 so the spread was 21 f.p.s. It’s still close enough for good accuracy at targets out to 35 yards, at least. At the average velocity the pellet generates 20.59 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Velocity on low power

Next I dialed the power to as low as it would go. That still required my needle-nosed pliers. The lowest setting the same JSB pellet averaged 432 f.p.s. The spread ranged from 405 to a high of 444 f.p.s. which is 39 f.p.s. difference. That will work for close-in targets, but beyond 20 yards or so you might want to set the power a little higher. At the average velocity the pellet now produces 7.51 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That is a broad range of adjustability! At the end of this test the reservoir that started at 3,000 psi registered 2,500 psi.

The trigger

First I must remark that the safety DOES NOT set automatically. Thank you, Crosman, for that! Secondly, the safety is very easy to operate with the trigger finger. It’s exactly what I want to see on a hunting air rifle.

Next, I played with the trigger some without firing the rifle before this test started. I was prepared not to like it and to dive into all the adjustments. But there aren’t any, other than the location of the curved trigger shoe can be swiveled around the trigger post.

Cayden trigger
The trigger shoe can be rotated after loosening a small Allen screw on the opposite side.

The trigger is two-stage. The first stage is very short and stage two that was creepy during my evaluation before this test has transformed into a crisp 2 lbs. 13 oz. break.

Actually there is one unannounced trigger adjustment. I found out about it too late to get it into this report, but I will look at it for you in the next report.

More velocity testing

To this point I had fired 30 shots — 10 at each power setting. I wanted to test a different pellet on high power but was the rifle still shooting as powerfully as before? I shot one more JSB Jumbo Heavy pellet at it went out at 861 f.p.s. That’s spot on!

Crosman Premiers

I now loaded 10 Crosman Premiers into the magazine and fired a string. They averaged 946 f.p.s. The low was 939 and the high was 952 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 13 f.p.s. At the average velocity this 14.3-grain pellet produced 28.42 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Shot count

The pressure in the reservoir now reads 2,200 psi. That should be close to the point that the rifle needs to be refilled.  So I shot another string of JSB 18.13-grain pellets on high power to see where things were. Let’s look at it.

Shot……….Vel.
1……….….852
2……….….855
3……….….852
4……….….850
5…….…….854
6……….….852
7……….….847
8…….…….845
9……….….842
10…………839
11………….833
12………….834

The Cayden has fallen off the power curve at shot 7. I didn’t tell you that I also fired two blank shots on high power to measure the trigger pull. So, on this fill, doing all we have done, the Cayden has given us 54 shots.

Summary

The first thing I need to tell you is the power adjustmernt knob hasa freed up. It did so after the first 30 shots. It’s still not easy, but I no longer need tools.

We are not finished with the velocity test. Part 3 will be a continuation, because there is a lot to learn about this rifle. How large a pellet can be shot? What is the most power we can get? How slow can it shoot and still keep the shots under a 30 f.p.s. spread? Stay tuned.


Tell BB gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BB gun
This military-looking BB gun is large and good-looking!

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Lead balls only
  • The test
  • 4.4mm copper-plated lead balls
  • Trigger pull
  • 4.4mm Punktkugeln
  • H&N 4.45mm lead ball
  • What we know
  • The last step
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the Tell BB gun. I think this is going to be a very interesting report, so let’s get started.

Lead balls only

I waited to do this test because I was considering what to do about the inaccuracy of steel BBs. At two feet they were spreading out to three inches apart. That would mean that at 5 meters (16 feet) the spread would be several FEET. I thought about shooting them closer to the target but what’s the point? If they are that inaccurate I’m never going to shoot them anyway. So I decided to run this accuracy test at the standard 5-meter distance with larger lead balls.

The test

I shot from a seated position, 5 meters from the target. I used the UTG Monopod to rest the gun on. I used a 6-o’clock hold on the bull.

4.4mm copper-plated lead balls

The first balls I shot were the 4.4mm copper-plated lead balls that I bought to shoot in my Haenel 310. I measured a couple of them after the test and they measure 0.1715 to 0.172-inches in diameter. That’s about the same as the Daisy Premium Grade steel BBs I tested in Part 2. I thought they were larger than that. According to my caliper 4.4mm is 0.1735-inches. My conversion software says 4.4mm is 0.1732-inches. Well, these balls don’t measure that wide.

I shot just 4 times at the target and stopped when 4 balls went into 5.57-inches between centers. I could see these balls were not that accurate and I stopped before I had an accident.

Trigger pull

The Tell trigger is two-stage and works well some of the time. The rest of the time it fires before I am ready, so the hold has to be perfect. The trigger is light, but too vague for good work.

copper ball
Four 4.4mm copper-plated balls went into 5.57-inches at 5 meters and I stopped shooting them. When I measured the balls they were smaller than advertised.

This is such a robust gun that I was hoping it would be as accurate as a Daisy 499. It sure is fun to shoot!

4.4mm Punktkugeln

The next ball I shot was another 4.4mm lead ball, but these measured a little larger than the others. They are a very uniform 4.4mm in diameter and my caliper says they measure 0.173-inches. The slight difference between these 4.4mm balls and when I just set the caliper at 4.4mm and pushed the button to convert from millimeters to inches confuses me, but that’s what it is.

This time all 10 balls stayed on the paper target at 5 meters. They went high and to the right of the bull and I can’t do anything about that because the gun’s sight doesn’t adjust very much. So, I just shot the group. Ten balls went into 3.7-inches, c-t-c at five meters. That’s a big group, for sure, but it’s ten shots instead of four.

4.4mm lead ball
Ten 4.4mm lead balls made this 3.7-inch group at 5 meters. It’s large but all 10 shots are on the paper. I didn’t use the dime because why would I?

Okay, I was seeing an increase in accuracy as the size of the ball increased. So I went to a larger ball.  I had a tin of H&N 4.45mm balls and had tested them in the Part 2 velocity test. Now I shot them at the target.

H&N 4.45mm lead ball

Ten 4.45mm lead balls went into a group that measures 3.06-inches between centers. As before a diameter increase in the ball produced a smaller group. There is something to be learned here.

This time 9 of 10 balls were on the paper and one was slightly off to the right. I photographed the target in situ for you.

4.45 in situ
One ball at the high right just missed the target paper. And two balls went through the same hole. Ten 4.45mm lead balls measure 3.06-inches between centers at 5 meters.

4.45
Same target with just the shots that hit the paper. Nine of 10 4.45mm balls are in this 3.06-inch group. The ball that missed the paper did not enlarge the group.

What we know

So far we have learned that the larger the ball, the more accurate this gun shoots. But what is larger than 4.45mm? Why 4.5mm, of course. I loaded 10 Beeman Perfect rounds into the gun and shot the next target. This was the first ball that did not fall into the barrel all the way to the breech. I used a .177 Dewey cleaning rod to press the ball all the way down. But after 5 shots the balls began to fall all the way down by themselves. I still used the rod to check that each ball was all the way down.

Ten Beeman Perfect Rounds went into a group measuring 1.96-inches between centers at 5 meters. Another group reduction with a larger ball!

Beeman rounds
Now we are getting somewhere. Ten 4.5mm Beeman perfect rounds made this 1.96-inch group at 5 meters.

The last step

Okay, have I gone as far as I can go? Not quite. Because I shoot and write about zimmerstutzens, I have acquired a small sample of different size lead balls over the years. One ball is a 4.55mm size. It’s called a number 12 ball, which is the new size designation. The old size number was 9.

number 12 balls
I had a tin of 4.55mm balls.

And, look what they did. Ten balls went into 0.877-inches at 5 meters.

4.55 group
Ten 4.55mm balls in 0.877-inches at 5 meters.

I think the last group confirms what I suspected. The shot tube prefers larger balls. I can’t do anything about the shot placement that is still high and right, but the grouping is a clear indication of what this BB gun wants.

Summary

This was an interesting test, because we got to watch as the tolerances shrunk, so did the groups. That is an important lesson for anyone who is involved in smoothbore shooting.


Walther LP2 target pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Walther LP2 left
Walther LP2 single stroke pneumatic target pistol.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • LP2 valve weak?
  • Differences between the LP2 and LP3
  • Velocity
  • RWS Hobby
  • Gamo Match
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Trigger
  • Pumping effort
  • LP3 velocity
  • Accuracy
  • Summary

As you learned in Part 1, my new/old Walther LP2 target pistol did not work when I got it. So I sent it to Scott Pilkington for repairs. Scott had to disassemble it first to see what it needed and then order the parts. I received the pistol back this Wednesday and it is now working fine — thanks, Scott!

LP2 valve weak?

I have always heard that the LP2 has a weak valve that’s subject to failure. It was apparently corrected when the LP3 came out. Whether that is true or not I can’t say, because this is the first working LP2 I have seen and handled. I have owned two LP3s in the past. The first was the model that had the full target grips and the second one had the sporter grips that look like the grips on this LP2. I have seen several LP2s at airgun shows but they were always non-functional.

Differences between the LP2 and LP3

I mentioned in Part One that the LP3 replaced the LP2. John McCaslin loaned me his LP3 for comparison. Now let’s look at some of the differences.

LP2 and 3
LP2 above and LP3 below. The 3 has the optional target grips.

valve access
Not only was the valve changed in the LP3, the method of access was, too. LP2 above and 3 below.

barrel profile
The barrel profile changed, as well. LP2 on the left. The LP3 round barrel is less expensive to profile.

Velocity

This is velocity day, so let’s get started. I know the LP2 powerplant is weak, so I will shoot lighter pellets and also no lead-free pellets, as they can stick in the bore of a weaker airgun.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I tried was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. Four of the first 5 shots were in the 330 f.p.s. range, with one going out at 290. That was on the low side of what I expected. But the Hobby pellet has a large skirt and I wondered whether that was slowing the pellet. So the next 10 shots were all seated deep with a ballpoint pen.

Hobby deep
A ballpoint pen seated each Hobby pellet about a quarter-inch into the breech.

When I did that the velocity increased by over 20 f.p.s. The average of 10 deep-seated Hobbys was 354 f.p.s. The low was 342 and the high was 364 f.,p.s. That’s a spread of 22 f.p.s. I know it’s not very fast, but it’s about what I expected from this pistol. It’s in the Daisy 777 range and perfectly acceptable.

Gamo Match

Gamo Match wadcutters weigh 7.56 grains. Ten of them were seated deep and averaged 336 f.p.s. with a low of 325 and a high of 350 The spread was 25 f.p.s. 

Sometimes Gamo Match pellets are surprisingly accurate and I hope this is one of the times. I did note while deep-seating them that that their skirts are smaller and they fit in the breech easier than the Hobbys.

H&N Finale Match Light

The last pellet I tested was the 7.87-grain H&N Finale Match Light wadcutter. They fit the breech about the same as the Gamo Match and I deep-seated them with a ballpoint pen as well. 

Ten pellets averaged 339 f.p.s. with a spread from 318 to 350 f.p.s. — a difference of 32 f.p.s. Eliminate that one slow pellet and the other 9 stayed in 11 f.p.s. (339-350 f.p.s.).

Trigger

The LP2 trigger is adjustable for letoff weight (the point at which the pistol fires), length of first stage, weight of first stage and overtravel. In all it’s a dandy trigger that was probably world-class in its day.

On the pistol I’m testing I lightened the trigger pull until stage two broke at exactly 1 pound.  It’s as crisp as a glass rod breaking, so even though it’s too light for competition, I’m leaving it where it is.

Pumping effort

The Walther LP-series pistols have always pumped hard — or at least that’s what I always thought. But when I measured the pumping effort for this one on my bathroom scale I was shocked. This one takes just 15 lbs. of effort to pump. I would have thought it was over 30 pounds. I guess the difficulty is because of the short pump lever.

LP3 velocity

Just for fun I also shot 10 RWS Hobby pellets with the LP3. I will show you the whole string because of what happened.

Shot………Vel.
1………….342
2………….340
3………….344
5………….351
6………….394 — WHAT?
7………….391
8………….395
9………….387
10………..349

I guess the piston seal needed to warm up. Or something. This is the hottest LP3 I have even seen.

Accuracy

No, this is not accuracy day. But there is something to see.

The pistol I bought came in the original serial-numbered box with two original owner’s manuals — one in English and the other in German. The one in German has a test target that shows what to expect and it’s serial-numbered to the gun, as well. I measure that group at 0.145-inches between centers.

test group
The test group that came with my LP2 measures 0.145-inches between centers.

Summary

Of course we still have to test this pistol for accuracy, so it remains to be seen what old BB can do with it. 


How to mount a scope: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Rest of the story
  • Why did it shoot high?
  • Today
  • One last remark
  • “Level” the scope
  • You cant
  • The bottom line
  • Other than springers
  • What’s next?

Rest of the story

In Part One we learned how to properly mount a scope on a spring-piston air rifle. Today I’ll start by telling you what happened with my friend’s Gamo Whisper that I scoped in that report. I shimmed the tube on the rear scope ring because my friend told me his rifle was shooting all over the place. To me that’s code for the scope is adjusted too high. The majority of them are. He had taken the scope off before bringing me the rifle so I was just guessing. Thinking I knew the problem,  I shimmed the new scope in the rear. Then I gave it back to my friend.

A week later he called and said he had shot it at a box 150 feet away and didn’t hit it. So I walked him through the 10-foot sight-in. He did it and called back — the gun shot 2-inches high at 10 feet — not two inches low like I said it would. Oh, oh!

To cut to the chase he had to shim under the front ring instead. When he did that he was on target at 10 feet again. And also at 30 feet — so I know his gun will be good.

Why did it shoot high?

If you are following this you already know why his Gamo shot high at 10-feet. Gamos don’t normally do that. Almost no spring rifles do. They almost always droop, which means to shoot low. Why is this one shooting high? Unless the bore is drilled off-center there is only one real cause for that — the barrel is bent upward. How did that happen? Either the trigger was pulled with the gun broken open or someone let go of the barrel before the gun was cocked. That results in a bent barrel every time. I’m not 100 percent certain of that, but at this time it’s another good guess.

bent barrel
When a breakbarrel is closed too fast, the barrel bends up like this.

What can be done?

If the upward bend is not too severe you can compensate for it by shimming the front ring of the scope mount. My friend has done this and says it’s okay. You can also bend the barrel straight again. I described how to do this and showed the results in a 5-part report

I hope to hear more about this rifle from my friend. If I do I will tell you what I learn.

Today

Today we are going to finish mounting the scope on our rifle. In Part 1 we got it on the rifle and slanted down, which works for about 90 percent of all breakbarrels. The one-piece scope rings were properly anchored to the Gamo’s scope base, so the mount should remain where we put it.

I positioned the scope as far to the rear as possible, because that was a complaint my friend had with his old scope — the one that came mounted on the rifle from the factory. The eyepiece of that scope was mounted so far forward that the image my friend saw wasn’t the full-sized image the scope was capable of producing. It bugged him so much that he stopped shooting his rifle. When I showed him my ASP20 breakbarrel with the scope properly mounted he saw the difference right away.

Most variable scopes you buy today have an eye-relief of 2.5 to 2.75-inches. You don’t measure this with a ruler. You mount the rifle to your shoulder until it is comfortable and then slide the scope back and forth in the loose rings until the image seen is ideal. There were some comments in Part 1 that my eye relief and my friend’s are probably not the same. That may be true but there is some tolerance either way for small differences. So I positioned the scope as far to the rear as it would go. It worked for me and I have since learned that it also works for him.

One last remark

Mount the scope so it is positioned right when the rifle is on your shoulder. It won’t be right when you shoot off a bench because you will be holding the rifle differently. But unless you plan to only shoot off a bench, position the scope for the shoulder. Now it’s time do do something that very few shooters understand.

“Level” the scope

Along with many others I used to jump through many hoops to “level” my scopes. I put quotes around the word level because there is no such thing. Leveling a scope is impossible — it can’t be done! Because what are you leveling it with? The receiver? And how do you level that?

I have explained this hundreds of times and some people never seem to catch on to what I’m saying. Let me ask you this — can you level a ball bearing? Some may think I’m asking if a ball bearing can be placed on a level surface so it doesn’t roll in any direction, but that’s not what I am asking. I’m asking if you can level the ball bearing itself.

It doesn’t make any sense when you think about it that way, does it? Of course not! A spherical object like a ball bearing has no relationship with the concept of being level. You can level a foundation. You can level a driveway. You can level a recreational vehicle. But you can’t level a scope — to a rifle.

Besides — level isn’t what you want. What you want is for the scope to look right to you when you mount the rifle to your shoulder to fire. For that to happen, only one thing is required. The vertical crosshair of the scope must appear to bisect the center of the rifle when you look through it.

align scope
Align the scope (rotate it in the rings) until the vertical reticle seems to bisect the rifle when you look through it.

When someone else does this you may find that the scope doesn’t look level to you. That’s because you don’t hold your head against the stock on the same angle as the other person. This is another reason that it is impossible to level a scope — because it depends on how you look through it, and each person is different.

You cant

“I can’t what?

Not you can’t —YOU cant — as in you tilt! Most people only cant (their heads) slightly when they shoulder a rifle, but some are very pronounced. How much you tilt your head when you shoulder a rifle determines whether the scope looks level to you.

The bottom line

I could have told you to hang a plumb bob at 50 yards and cover the line with the vertical reticle. I used to do that. Since the line is completely vertical I knew the scope had to be “level”. Ah, yes, but what about the rifle underneath? How do I level it? Well, with any luck the bottom of the forearm just in front of the trigger guard was flat and, when laid on a flat and level surface, it agreed with the scope aligned over a plumb line.

Other than springers

So far I have only been referring to spring-piston rifles. With other powerplants we encounter different challenges. Both the precharged and CO2 powerplants share the same things, because the principal feature they offer is repeatability. That brings in additional scope clearance issues.

S510 scoped
This Air Arms S510 illustrates the problem of scoping a repeater very well. The scope has to clear the rotary magazine that can be seen sticking up above the flat receiver. The dimensions of the scope put its turret exactly over the magazine. This forces two things — high scope rings and two-piece scope rings.

The good news is that, except for big bore airguns, PCPs and CO2 guns have no real recoil. So all the work we did in Part One to anchor the scope rings to the rifle is not necessary.

What’s next?

Next we eliminate cant. That is a subject of its own and one that deserves its own report.


What do YOU want?: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • In an air rifle
  • The marketing
  • Not my idea
  • Last visit
  • So what?
  • The $100 PCP
  • What do YOU want to see in an air rifle?
  • Over to you
  • Summary

In an air rifle

It was February 2006. I’ll never forget standing in the office of Crosman’s CEO, Ken D’Arcy after making my pitch about a single shot precharged pneumatic air rifle that only filled to 2,000 psi.  I was on fire that day, because Ed Schultz had taken my idea and in three days had prototyped two rifles — one in .177 and the other in .22. To his surprise — it worked! He had turned two Crosman 2260 CO2 rifles into prototypes of what the company would eventually call the Benjamin Discovery. [Note: Crosmnan has changed the rifle to a Sheridan 2260.] He was getting 20 shots at almost 1,000 f.p.s. in the .177 and he hadn’t even tweaked the valve yet!

After my presentation and toward the end of the day D’Arcy looked at me and asked me one question. Did I think they could sell a thousand of the rifles in the first year? I had no idea, but I said I thought they could sell two thousand. The idea was sound — it all depended on their marketing.

The marketing

Fully two-thirds of my idea was how to market this new air rifle. It was 2006 and PCPs in general were still looked at as “the dark side.” Crosman had imported some expensive PCPs from England and tried to sell them without success several years before. They had no name in the PCP world.

My idea was to put everything the shooter needed into one box and to price it at $250 out the door. It would have the rifle, a hand pump, a small tin of good pellets (this was Crosman, so I was thinking Premiers) and a bunch of good literature. Not only would there be a solid owner’s manual that I would help write; there would also be a “Welcome to the World of Precharged Airguns” pamphlet that explained how the rifle worked. That would dovetail with online tutorials on how to fill the rifle with either a pump or a scuba tank, an explanation of how the scuba tank would last a long time because the gun was only filled to 2,000 psi, and an explanation of how just 2,000 psi was enough to propel a .177 pellet to 1,000 f.p.s.

Not my idea

Folks — the Benjamin Discovery was not my idea. I would love to be able to claim it, but the idea really came from Larry Durham and Tim McMurray. They built a field target rifle called the USFT that got a large number of shots from a very low-pressure fill.

USFT
My USFT from Tim McMurray filled to 1,600 psi and got 55 shots of 10.6-grain Beeman Kodiaks at just under 900 f.p.s.

USFT
The test target Tim sent with my rifle. It’s 25 Beeman Kodiak Match pellets in 0.663-inches at 51 yards.

USFT best target
My first time out with the USFT my best 5-shot group at 50 yards was 0.335-inches, c-t-c.

What I’m telling you is I am not the inventor of the Benjamin Discovery. I just saw a great idea and took it to some folks who could do something with it.

As I was about to leave Crosman for the airport that same day, Ed Schultz showed me a rack of walnut stocks that were in-process. Some were finished, some were awaiting finish and some were raw lumber waiting to be turned into stocks. He told me there were 4,000 stocks that had been for a special 2260 project that was cancelled. He said he was of a mind to put them on the first Discoverys. Imagine getting a budget PCP package that included a rifle with a walnut stock!

Well, in 2007 Crosman did exactly that — they put a walnut stock on the first Discoverys. I have one that I bought (no — they didn’t give me a rifle, but I was paid for this project) from my buddy, Mac, at one of the last Virginia airgun shows. Toward the end of that first year I noticed that they had switched to beech stocks, so I reckoned what I had told Ken D’Arcy the year before held up.

Last visit

I went back to Crosman one last time to discuss the project and was shown their first rifling machine for the Discovery. Ed also told me they were testing the first rifles for holding by filling them and watching them for 24 hours. They knew they had to do it right from the start or risk sniping from the internet peanut gallery. I told Ken D’Arcy that in two years Crosman, a company known for kid’s guns and CO2 guns, would be a household name in the PCP world.

So what?

Okay, that was an idea that I got to see all the way through to fruition. There were changes along the way, as there always must be, but Crosman remained true to the core idea. And it worked better than I hoped. The next year they brought out the Marauder that they had been planning all along. But they took my advice and launched the Discovery first to establish a reputation in the world of PCPs. Today there are airgunners who are unaware that Crosman came into the game as late as 2007.

The $100 PCP

In 2014 I did a 6-part series where I tested an airgun Dennis Quackenbush made up for me. He took a Crosman 2100B and turned it into a PCP. I asked him to hold the cost as low as he could and when he was done we both felt it was possible to build a precharged pneumatic that could retail for one-hundred dollars.

At the 2016 SHOT Show, Crosman surprised me with their Maximus — a new PCP that retailed for $200. Guess what — it still does today — over four years later!

Maximus
The Maximus looks similar to the Benjamin Discovery and will retail for under $200. A complete package with a pump and pellets will retail for about $430.

The Maximus is probably the big reason the Discovery is no longer made. They don’t need two budget PCPs and the Maximus was cheaper. It also had their new barrel that is more accurate by virtue of being reamed before rifling. So 2007 to 2016 is a nine year period in which Crosman went from being the maker of airguns for kids to one of the top makers of PCPs in the world! — nine years!

What do YOU want to see in an air rifle?

That’s a long intro for the title subject, which is — if you had your way, what sort of air rifle would you like to see? I’ll get you started. I would like to see a Sig ASP20 with some changes.

Keep the barrel, but shorten it by 4 inches. Keep the gas spring, but let out some air so the rifle with the shorter barrel cocks with 20 pounds of force. If necessary, put a longer muzzle brake on the barrel to increase the length for leverage but not the weight. Lighten the synthetic stock by a significant amount and thin its profile at the grip and forearm where the hands fall. Keep the trigger and safety exactly as they are.

What you are giving me is a 12-13 foot-pound breakbarrel air rifle that’s 1.5 pounds lighter and a lot easier to cock and to hold. And, now that it’s all that, folks will want open sights. 

When Ed Schultz was still at Sig I gave him an idea for an open front sight that would be revolutionary in the world of airguns. It’s been in use in the firearms world for the past 80 years, but I haven’t seen it on an airgun yet. With that dandy Picatinney rail that’s on the rifle right now Sig could offer an adjustable rear sight that would attach easily. I recommend offering a peep , but it could also be a conventional notch if it could be extended forward far enough for the eye to see.

There you are, Sig. That’s a new SKU for you that won’t cost you very much engineering time to create. I bet an engineer could knock out a prototype in a week, if his time was dedicated.

Over to you

Now it’s your turn. Tell us what air rifle you would like to see. Here is a tip. Companies are not likely to get out a clean sheet of paper for anything. When they do that, they are looking at heavy 6-figure investments. Give them something that’s easy for them to do — but for some reason they haven’t done it yet. What if we sliced the loaf of bread before selling it — that kind if thing.

Summary

Want to affect the world of airguns? Then stop tipping over the porta-potties and help us empty the garbage cans!


The Benjamin Cayden: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Cayden
Benjamin Cayden sidelever repeater.

This report covers:

  • News from Benjamin
  • Craftsman Collection
  • Price
  • Description
  • Fill
  • Barrel not shrouded
  • Summary

News from Benjamin

I was contacted last week by the Crosman Corporation, They asked me if I would like to test one of the three new precharged pneumatic rifles from their Benjamin Craftsman Collection. You may recall that I showed you all three new rifles in Part 4 of my SHOT Show report, back in January. I asked to test the new Benjamin Cayden.

Cayden-1
The Cayden is a conventional-looking sidelever bolt-action PCP.

The Cayden looks conventional. The Akela is a bullpup repeater and the Kratos is a bottle-fed PCP. Both are repeaters like the Cayden and they all three come in .22-caliber. The Kratos bottle gun also comes in .25-caliber — the only one of the three that does.

Akela-Kratos
The Akela (top) and Kratos are the other two new PCP rifles in Benjamin’s Craftsman Collection.

Crosman’s product manager, Phillip Guadalupe contacted me with some information I requested and could not find on the Crosman website. First of all, what is the Craftsman Collection?

Craftsman Collection

Right now Benjamin’s Craftsman’s Collection consists of the three rifle just mentioned. They are produced in Turkey exclusively for Benjamin. Benjamin conducted a survey to find out what their customers really wanted in a precharged rifle. The Foster quick-disconnect fitting for filling the rifle was a given, as were American-style quick-disconnect sling mounts. Seventy percent of those polled asked for a sidelever to operate the bolt, and I will throw my vote in there, too.

I was surprised to learn that 60 percent of those polled wanted a rifle with a removable air bottle. That would not have been my choice, but I can’t argue with 60 percent. That Kratos bottle holds 480 cc of air, where the Cayden’s reservoir that doesn’t remove holds 280 cc, yet both rifles are said to get up to 60 shots on a fill, with maximum power in the 32 foot-pounds realm. But only the bottle gun is offered in .25 caliber. All three are offered in .22. So these are hunting rifles, without a doubt.

All three rifles have genuine Turkish walnut stocks. The survey said Crosman customers were looking for an upgraded rifle — something without a synthetic stock or a plain beech stock. Turkish walnut is certainly the right way to go!

Price

Crosman won’t say this but I sure can. With the current market heat from the price-point PCP arena, any new precharged air rifle has to have a very good price — especially here in America! The days of average PCPs retailing for $1,000+ are over. The Cayden we are looking at retails at $550. The Akela sells for $600 and the Kratos goes for $630. Just from an appearance and feature standpoint all three rifles look like a good value to me.

Description

The Cayden is a .22-caliber 12-shot repeater, and you get 2 magazines with the rifle. The bolt operates by a lever on the right side of the receiver. The grip is ambidextrous, but the sidelever cannot be switched to the left side of the receiver. The 12-shot circular magazine inserts and is removed from the right side of the receiver, though it sticks out on the left.

The rifle is 40.76-inches overall with a 20.87-inch rifled barrel. The weight is 7.95 lbs., with a small allowance for a variation of the wood. There are no open sights. The receiver has a Picatinney rail on the top that’s split into two segments by the magazine. This design indicates 2-piece scope mounts.

Cayden sidelever
The Cayden sidelever stays on the right side of the receiver.

The cheekpiece is adjustable. That allows you to get a better sight picture through the scope that’s required. The Turkish walnut stock is stippled at the pistol grip. The stippling extends to the forearm. I will report on the feel of the rifle in part 2, but as I remember from the SHOT Show, it feels great!

Fill

The Cayden is filled to 3,000 psi. That was smart of Crosman, because higher pressures are still taxing for many shooters. The company says you can expect up to 60 shots from a fill. The reason they say “up to” is because the power is adjustable.

Cayden power adjuster
On the left of the receiver is the power adjustment scale that tells where the rifle is set.

Cayden power adjuster knob
On the right side of the receiver is the knob for adjusting power.

There is no regulator. In Part 2 we will see how stable the Cayden powerplant really is.

Barrel not shrouded

The Cayden barrel isn’t shrouded. The muzzle brake is threaded and removable, so presumably an aftermarket silencer could be attached.

Summary

This is a chance to evaluate a new PCP from Benjamin that isn’t based in the Marauder. I know you will be interested in shot count, the power adjustment, the rifle’s report that is sure to be loud and the trigger. Of course accuracy will be above all other things.

Already the jungle drums are asking why Crosman had to go outside the country for these three rifles. I think the answer is obvious — to get them into the marketplace. People need to realize that developing a new air rifle isn’t a 12-month task. Each new platform absorbs the time of a great many people. Even products acquired from other companies take time to develop and mature.  Let’s evaluate these new rifles on their own merits.