What’s it gonna be today?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The beginning
  • Walther LGR
  • HOWEVER!
  • Diana model 10
  • What is a Diana 10?
  • The grips
  • The top spacer
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Power
  • Summary

Today is a special treat. We are going to go back into my distant past and see something that was pivotal in my life. It was, and yet this one wasn’t. This is something that made me the airgunner I have become, and I have been telling you about it on this blog for many years. I have and yet I haven’t. Read on, Grasshopper.

The beginning

The year was 1976 (I think), and I was walking with my first wife and son through Rothenburg ob der Tauber — a walled medieval town next to the Tauber river in northern Bavaria, Germany. Rothenburg is a tourist town today, because it is so well preserved and colorful. I enjoyed going there with my little family on my time off and just walking around seeing the sites!

One day, however, something different happened. Up a side street I saw the sign for a gun store. Now, ANY gun store in Germany would catch my attention, but one in Rothenburg just had to be special, like everything else in that quaint old town. So, we wandered in and looked around.

Walther LGR

The owner spoke good English, so there was no problem communicating. And he saw right away that I was a gun guy. So all barriers came down. He saw my eyes alight on a Walther LGR target rifle, which he brought down and handed to me. It was the first 10-meter air rifle I had ever seen! I was blown away, and the owner could see it. When he told me how the gun was charged to shoot I was even more flabbergasted. I think he was, too, and he just wanted to show off his special toy. If you want to see what I’m talking about, read this three-part report.

But like I said — I was a family man with a young family. I didn’t have the kind of money the LGR was commanding, and although I had a credit card I had learned by that time that the bills always come due. So — looky and even touchy but no takey home.

HOWEVER!

Then I spotted a brown leather briefcase in one of his glass sales cases. Inside, resting in bright yellow foam was an air pistol I had never seen. That one was every bit as exotic as the LGR, plus it had a price tag of less than half that of the rifle! This the family man could do (his wife said).

Diana model 10

That pistol was a .177-caliber Diana model 10 ten-meter target pistol. I didn’t know what 10-meter target was at the time, and it was just about a decade from becoming an Olympic sport (rifle in 1984 and pistol in ’88). Europeans had their matches going, but I was unaware of them.

The pistol, though, spoke for itself! And today I will let it speak to all of you. What I bought in that German gun store that day was a Diana model 10. But Robert Beeman sold it as the Beeman 900. It was at the top of a line of Dianas that Beeman Precision Arms once sold.

Diana 10
This is what a Diana model 10 pistol looks like in its case.

The gun I recently purchased from an estate and am testing for you now wasn’t marked as a Diana model 10. It was marked as a Beeman model 900. And there was no case, no manual and no tools.

Beeman 900 marks
This is how the test pistol is marked.

According to the Blue Book of Airguns (the new edition of which will be available again before the end of this year — stocking stuffer), The first model 900s were marked Beeman’s Original Model 10. “Original,” if you remember your airgun history, is what the German Diana company had to mark their guns for a time after WW II, because Milbro in Scotland was awarded the rights to manufacture airguns using the Diana name.

So, Beeman sold it as a model 900. They also sold the Diana model 6 that was closely related as their model 800 and the 6M target configuration that was even closer as the model 850. But their 900 is a Diana 10, The same as that 10 I bought in Rothenburg.

What is a Diana 10?

The Diana model 10 is a 10-meter target pistol from the 1970s. At the time it was in competition with the FWB model 65 and Walther’s LP 3. The 10 is a breakbarrel spring-piston target pistol that uses the Giss counter-recoiling pistons to cancel recoil. You feel a pulse of energy with the shot but no movement from the gun. 

This is the air pistol I used to convert my gun-hating father-in-law from California into an airgunner. That story is worth reading if you have the time.

The earliest model 10s had a lump at the muzzle end of a synthetic spring-loaded barrel jacket. The shooter pulled the jacket forward and rotated it 90 degrees until the lump was above the front sight. The lump was your hand’s protection when you broke the barrel to cock the pistol. It sounds awkward, but after 10 shots everyone becomes a pro.

Beeman 900 lump down
The lump is down most of the time.

Beeman 900 lump up
Rotate the lump up to protect your hand when you want to cock the pistol.

The grips

The grips are a set of walnut panels with a palm swell on the right side. The palm shelf at the bottom of the grip slides up to make the grip tight, because 10-meter competition is shot with one hand, only. The shelf can also be tipped up in back to make it even tighter and the Diana 10 grip has a feature I have never seen on another 10-meter pistol. Believe me — I have looked!

Beeman 900 grip
The Diana 10 /Beeman 900 grip is extremely adjustable to grab the shooter’s hand and hold it tight!

The top rear of the palm shelf can be slid back just a trifle to wedge into the shooter’s wrist joint, making this grip the most positive one I have ever felt. And I’m a 10-meter pistol shooter, so believe me — I have tried a lot of grips! But wait — there’s more!

The top spacer

There is also a spacer on top of the grip where the top of the hand touches the spring tube. This spacer pushes down on the top of your hand to make the Diana 10 grip the tightest one ever created! You don’t grab this pistol, you put it on. It can actually hurt to hold the gun for a full 60-shot match, but the gun is going nowhere your arm doesn’t allow. You don’t hold this pistol— it holds you!

The top spacer can be removed from the pistol, for those who can’t tolerate it. Or you can just adjust the palm shelf down until the grip is nice and comfy. The little shelf on the rear of the palm shelf doesn’t have to be deployed. Heck, you can even hold a model 10 with two hands if you want to blaspheme the sport of 10-meter pistol! But a hand that has to be massaged after a match belongs on a winner! Hoo-rrrrah!

Seriously, guys, 10 meter rifle shooters have an expensive fitted leather jacket and pants that bind them up like sausages. They can’t gain more than 5 pounds or this stuff no longer fits. They also have expensive shooting shoes, and a heavy leather shooting glove and kneeling rolls for their legs. All the leather is in “their colors.” They bring two cases on wheels to the competition — one for their rifle and the other for all their stuff.

Ten-meter pistol shooters show up in jeans and a tee shirt. That pistol grip is their one interface and believe me, it matters a lot to them!

Sights

Naturally the sights on the model 10 are adjustable. But they adjust in ways most of you have never seen. The front sight adjusts for width! Instead of different inserts, the sight swivels to be wider or narrower within the range of adjustment. Or take it off and there is another lower and skinnier blade waiting.

The pistol also came originally with several different rear sight notches. Install the one you like and then adjust the width of the front post to suit. Unfortunately someone has painted this front blade with orange phosphorescent paint! No doubt it was to see the front post better, but when the target is illuminated correctly in a match, a dark black post is best. I have to do something to fix it.

Beeman 900 front sight
By turning that front blade you change its width in the rear notch. Remove it altogether for a skinny front blade. Gotta get rid of that orange paint though!

Beeman 900 rear sight
This photo not only shows the rear sight, it also shows the top spacer that puts additional pressure on the hand holding the pistol. I believe it can be removed.

Trigger

I know you want to know about the trigger, but I plan to cover it next time. It adjusts for first stage length, second stage weight and I think overtravel. The front of the blade also cants to the right, because this pistol is made for right-hand shooters. A left-hand grip does exist, so I have to believe the trigger blade face will also cant to the left.

Beeman 900 trigger
We’ll talk about the trigger adjustments next time, but you can see how many there are! I bet you all know what that one with the red sealant on it is! It’s the sear engagement! No touchie!

Power

The Diana 10 is a powerhouse among early 10-meter pistols. I remember velocities in the 450-475 f.p.s. range. Unfortunately, Diana put in seals made from a synthetic material that degraded over time and all of them have to be replaced at some point. New seals should last a lifetime.

I was told that this pistol shoots in the 370s with RWS Hobbys, so it may need a reseal. That’s an expensive proposition because of timing the Giss system, so I will hold off as long as possible. We will find out more when we test velocity.

Summary

That’s it for our first look. There is more to see before we get to velocity, and after that we get to see the accuracy. I can’t wait!


Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

M1A
Springfield Armory M1A.

This report covers:

  • What is the  M14?
  • M14 magazine 
  • M1A
  • The pellet rifle
  • Underlever
  • Cocking and the safety
  • Safety is manual
  • Loading
  • Summary

The Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle is here! This is the air rifle many of you have been waiting for, and mine just arrived. Let’s take a look.

What is the  M14?

The M14 is a U.S. battle rifle that was the primary personal rifle from 1958 until 1968. It was the successor to the M1 Garand (U.S. Rifle caliber .30 M1) that was the U.S. battle rifle from 1936 until being replaced by the M14 in March of 1958. Where the Garand was semiautomatic only, the M14 was made to be a select-fire rifle, though not that many of them were ever set up that way. It took some training and skill to control the rifle in the full-auto mode, because the recoil of the 7.62X51 mm cartridge was substantial. Because of the rifle’s look many assumed it was another BAR, but at only half the weight, it wasn’t.

It just so happens that old B.B. Pelletier qualified expert on the M14, which gave him the opportunity to qualify (expert again, mostly due to luck) on the brand-new M16. Most M16s and their ammo were being sent to Vietnam in 1968 when I qualified in basic training at ROTC summer camp in Fort Lewis, Washington. They had limited rifles and ammo, so only those who qualified expert with the M14 got to qualify with the M16.

From that experience I can tell you this — the M14 was a real battle rifle. The M16 that I shot was an underdeveloped toy — at least at that time! Time and further development have turned the M16 platform into a proven battle rifle, BUT — the M14 lingers on in U.S. military service as a special rifle when certain things are required. Its 7.62X51 mm round (military version of the .308 Winchester) hits harder and more accurately at longer ranges than the 5.56 mm round of the M16.

M14 magazine 

The biggest difference between the Garand and the M14 was the M14’s 20-round magazine. The Garand has an 8-shot magazine that’s built into the rifle. It is very difficult to add cartridges to that mag while it’s still loaded. When the last round is ejected the en bloc clip — a steel spring that holds the eight .30-06 rounds together, also comes out of the rifle with a distinctive ping. There is a rumor that the enemy would wait to hear the ping and then attack, knowing that the soldier was reloading, but that was just a myth. Nobody could hear that ping in the noise of combat unless there were extraordinary circumstances.

The M14’s 20-round magazine can be removed at any time and topped off. Or leave it in the rifle and load it with stripper clips that connect to the top of the rifle’s receiver, similar to the way the K98 Mauser rifle is loaded. Either way it’s far easier to top off an M14 than reload the Garand. Oldtimers can tell the difference between the Garand and the M14 by the magazine of the latter that hangs down.

M1A

So why is there an M1A? It’s because American civilians cannot own fully automatic weapons without going through special legal procedures and I’m not certain that an M14 ever qualified for those. Since any M14 could potentially be converted to full auto, it was a special case that had to be dealt with individually. To satisfy the need for a civilian rifle to compete in military matches, the M1A was born. It’s almost identical to the M14, except it cannot receive the parts to make it full auto without modifications.

The M1A pellet rifle

And that background brings us to today’s topic, the Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle. It is licensed by Springfield Armory, but it was developed under joint cooperation with the folks at Air Venturi. Springfield Armory is the company that brought the M1A to the world in 1974.

Springfield Armory offers the full-sized M1A firearm with a walnut stock. And that is the first difference knowledgeable shooters will notice about the pellet rifle. The stock on this underlever is made from some kind of Asian hardwood that resembles beech. The finish is a very matte dark brown. The upper handguard is a brown synthetic that resembles the fiberglass handguard on the firearm.

Underlever

This is an underlever air rifle, and no, it’s not a reskinned Diana 460 Magnum. You would never get it for a retail of $200 if it was. It’s similar to the Diana in several ways because both rifles are underlevers, but it’s also far from a direct copy.

M1A underlever
The underlever pulls down and back to cock the rifle and open the loading port. Note that the upper handguard slides forward to expose the loading port.

This rifle comes in both .177 and .22 calibers. I asked to test the .22 because of the power output (1,000 f.p.s. in .177 and 800 f.p.s. in .22), as well as for easier loading. More on that in a bit.

I sat in on a design discussion with Air Venturi at the SHOT Show this year. The rifle was almost complete, but I was asked for my input.  I have to admit I was blown away by the realism of the rifle! I was told they wanted to keep the retail price at $200, so the folding metal buttplate that is so characteristic of an M14 was not an option. It looks like the buttplate on this rifle folds, but it doesn’t. Shooters unfamiliar with the M14 won’t miss it, and there are more of them around than us old silverbacks. There is a rubber pad on the butt to keep the rifle firmly on your shoulder.

The underlever has an extension rod that pulls out to increase the leverage. And, what is so neat is you can leave it pulled out because the designers made the extension fit into the bottom of the muzzle brake/front sight assembly when the lever is stored.

M1A lever in
The cocking lever can be pushed in like this.

M1A lever out
… or it can be extended and still used and stored that way. Genius!

Cocking and the safety

The M1A cocks with 35 lbs. of effort, according to the description. You know I will check that for you. I do use the extended lever to cock the rifle.

But there is more to cocking. I test-fired the rifle the first time and it shot well. But it wouldn’t cock for me on the next try. I tried it many times. Each time I felt the sear slipping off as I relaxed pressure on the cocking lever. This was confusing until I looked at the safety. It works in the reverse direction of an M1A, M14 or M1 Garand safety. Pull it back into the triggerguard to make the rifle ready to fire and push it forward through the triggerguard to make the rifle safe. I had been working it backwards! And that was apparently what kept the rifle from cocking.

M1A safety
The M1A pellet rifle safety works in the reverse direction of the M1A firearm safety. Push the safety back into the triggerguard to make the rifle ready to fire and forward to make it safe.

Once I cycled the safety on and off again several times and then pulled it back towards  the trigger to make the rifle ready to fire, the cocking problem was gone. I tell you this in case anyone who is familiar with an M1A, Garand or M14 makes the same mistake.

Safety is manual

The safety is manual. It stays where it’s put until you move it. And that’s the way we like it! Let the shooter be responsible for his own safety. With the cocking effort it’s unlikely that a child will cock this rifle. So long as the shooter has been trained in proper gun handling techniques and practices them, everything should be fine.

Loading

When the rifle is cocked the upper handguard slides forward to expose the loading port. I have normal-sized hands for an adult and I find this rifle somewhat difficult to load. The trick is to balance it on your knee or on a table with the muzzle pointing straight up. The pellet can then be balanced on your thumb for loading. It isn’t perfect, but you soon grow accustomed to it. I suspect that loading will be more difficult for people with sausage fingers.

M1A loading port
The upper handguard slides forward as the rifle is cocked. This exposes the loading port.

Summary

I will end this report here but there is much more introduction to come in part 2. At that time I will discuss and show the sights, the scope mount that comes with the rifle, the trigger and more details about this fascinating new spring-piston air rifle. We will start testing velocity in part 3.

The Springfield Armory M1A pellet rifle is many things. It’s a lookalike airgun. It’s a spring-piston rifle that’s hopefully very accurate. It has good power so it can be used for some hunting. It has adjustable sights plus a scope mount. And all of this comes to you at a fantastic price! With the holidays coming I would watch this blog and perhaps put this one on my short list!


The Benjamin Cayden: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Cayden
Benjamin Cayden sidelever repeater.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Accuracy
  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • Turned on the lights!
  • Air Arms 16-grain dome
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53 mm heads
  • Air Arms 18-grain domes
  • JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
  • Discussion
  • Personal note
  • Summary

Crosman managers — call your people together (except those assembling, of course). Tell them you have a winner in the Benjamin Cayden!  What an air rifle! I like the sidelever. I like the magazine. I like that it gets lots of shots on a 3,000 psi fill. I guess I just like the Cayden. Today I will tell everybody more about what I like.

Accuracy

Today is the second accuracy test and I’m moving back to 25 yards. I also boosted the power up as high as it will go, because the Cayden uses air so sparingly.

The test

I’m shooting off a sandbag rest from 25 yards. I decided not to adjust the scope today, as long as the shots land reasonably close to where I’m aiming. I shot 10 shot groups with each of 4 different pellets.

Sight-in

I had not planned to sight in the rifle again because I didn’t think it was necessary. But the first two shots hit the target a inch and a quarter above the aim point. They were also loud. Then I remembered — the Cayden is the rifle on which I used the DonnyFL silencer. In fact I bought it for the Cayden! So I stopped shooting and installed the silencer. The next shot dropped by almost an inch and the following shot went through the same hole. That answered several questions in the first 4 shots.

First — the Cayden shoots just as well with the silencer installed — perhaps better. And second, the POI does change when the silencer is on. If I was a rich guy I would just leave it on the Cayden, but this isn’t my rifle. It has to go back with its factory muzzle brake, so I don’t need to be misplacing that! What I’m telling you is sight in your Cayden with the rifle set up the way you intend shooting it.

Turned on the lights!

Remember in Part 3 I told you that I am using what we discovered to be an obsolete UTG SWAT 4-16 scope? I told you that scope has an etched glass reticle. Well after the first two shots I turned on the reticle and it became much easier to see over the bulls! Etched-glass reticles do not illuminate the interior of the scope tube when they are on. Only the tiny crosshair at the center of the reticle lights up, and that’s perfect for precise aiming!

Air Arms 16-grain dome

The first pellet I tested was the Air Arms 16-grain dome that has no other name. I mention that because I am also testing a different Air Arms dome today. I only load 10 pellets into the 12-shot magazine, to keep my groups to 10 shots.

Ten shots went into a somewhat vertical 0.474-inch group at 25 yards. And I did shoot all 10 shots. I reloaded the magazine after the first two shots went high, so I could finish the group.

Cayden AA 16-grain group
The two shots above the group were shot with the factory muzzle brake on. Then I removed it and installed the DonnyFL silencer and shot the 10-shot group below. It measures 0.474-inches between centers.

H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53 mm heads

Next up was a pellet I didn’t shoot at 10 meters — the H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53 mm head. These are heavier, and since I was shooting on full power I figured they would be ones to try.

Ten shots went into 0.438-inches at 25 yards. They landed a little to the left, but still on the bull at which I was aiming. 

Cayden Baracuda Match 553 group
The Cayden put 10 H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 5.53 mm heads into a 0.438-inch group at 25 yards.

Air Arms 18-grain domes

Next up was another pellet I hadn’t tried in the Cayden yet — the Air Arms dome that weighs 18 grains. These proved to be phenomenal! Ten of them went into 0.284-inches at 25 yards. It was the best group of the test!

Cayden AA 18-grain group
Air Arms 18-grain domes were just the ticket! Ten of them went into 0.284-inches at 25 yards.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

The last pellet I tested was the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy that weighs 18.13-grains. These did quite well, too. Ten of them went into 0.315-inches between centers at 25 yards.

Cayden JSB Exact Jumbo group
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo pellets went into 0.315-inches at 25 yards.

Discussion

What is not to like? The trigger that I will admit isn’t as refined as a Marauder trigger, is still very good.  The sidelever works perfectly. The power is quite adjustable and the Cayden gets a lot of shots on a fill. I shot 42 full-power shots in this test and the manometer (onboard pressure gauge) still reads 2300 psi, meaning there is probably another full magazine of 12 shots — all on max power!

The Cayden is stable. It has no barrel issues (moving when bumped). It is attractive, with the Turkish walnut stock, and don’t forget that cheekpiece adjusts.

Personal note

I love my job, but some airguns are easier to write about and test than others. The Cayden was easy because it did everything Crosman said it would. That makes it so much easier for me. And, I like shooting accurate airguns!

Summary

I know it sounds like I’m finished, but I’m not. This rifle has earned its way into a 50-yard test! The problem is, there are some other airguns ahead of it and at this time of year getting a 50-yard range without a windstorm isn’t that easy. Still, I will push it up in the line because I want to test at least one more of the Benjamin Craftsman Collection — perhaps a .25-caliber Kratos. Wouldn’t that be fun?


CCI .22 long rifle Quiet test

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • CCI Quiet
  • CCI Quiet Semi-Auto
  • CCI Subsonic Hollowpoint
  • Discussion
  • Remington model 37 Rangemaster
  • Ruger 10/22 rifle
  • CCI Quiet accuracy
  • CCI Subsonic Hollowpoint accuracy
  • Quiet Semi-Auto accuracy
  • Summary

When I started reporting the sounds airguns make, using my new smart phone app that is a sound meter, readers asked me how the sounds of a PCP compare to a .22 long rifle cartridge. The Ataman AP16 pistol that is part of the Godfather’s Gold Gun Giveaway registered 108 decibels on the meter, but a CCI .22 CB Short — a .22 short round with very little powder — registered 112 dB. 

Reader Dave said he thought the CCI .22 long rifle Quiet was quieter than his PCP, and he sent me a box to try for you. He actually sent three different low-noise long rifle cartridges and today I will tell you how they all performed.

cartridges
CCI Quiet on the left, then CCI Quiet Semi-Auto with CCI Subsonic for suppressors on the right.

CCI Quiet

The first cartridge we look at is the CCI Quiet. It is a .22 long rifle cartridge with a 40-grain lead bullet going out at 710 f.p.s. That is the same velocity as the CCI CB Short with its 29-grain bullet. The CB Short produced 112 dB with the meter three feet to the left of the muzzle. With the meter in the same place for the Quiet the meter registered 105.4 dB

Quiet discharge
The CCI Quiet produced 105.4 dB from a 24-inch barrel. Sorry for the blur. The camera was hand-held.

CCI Quiet Semi-Auto

We’ll look at the CCI Quiet Semi-Auto next. This cartridge has a 45-grain bullet and goes just a little faster than the standard Quiet round, at 835 f.p.s. A semiautomatic action needs a bigger push to open the bolt, and the standard Quiet round can’t do it reliably.

I tested the discharge of this cartridge in the same Remington Model 33 bolt-action single shot as the rest of the cartridges. This one registered 109.2 dB — just a little louder than the Quiet round. And although I had my electronic hearing protectors on during the testing, I could tell this one was more powerful just by the push it made when it fired.

Quiet SA discharge
The Quiet Semi-Auto was louder than the Quiet cartridge, at 109.2 dB. Sorry for the blur.

CCI Subsonic Hollowpoint

The last cartridge I tested was a CCI .22 long rifle Subsonic Hollowpoint. The package indicates it is made for guns with silencers. It puts out a 45-grain lead bullet at 970 f.p.s. at the muzzle. It’s the most powerful of the three cartridges I’m testing and, at 94+ foot-pounds, it’s close to the power of a standard speed .22 long rifle cartridge.

I expected this cartridge to be the loudest of the three and it was, though not by that much. It registered 110.9 dB on the sound meter.

Subsonic HP discharge
The Subsonic hollowpoint pushed the sound meter to 110.9 dB.

Discussion

My eyes (and ears) were opened by this little test. All three of these quiet CCI long rifle cartridges made less noise than the CCI CB Short, and the CCI Quiet cartridge was quieter than the Ataman AP 16 pistol! I would not have predicted that.

But quiet sound is nothing without accuracy, so last Friday I went to AirForce Airguns test range and tested all three cartridges for accuracy at 25 yards. I used a Remington model 37 Rangemaster bolt action target rifle for two of the cartridges, and a Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic rifle for the third. Let’s look at each rifle now.

Remington model 37 Rangemaster

The model 37 Rangemaster was Remington’s answer to the Winchester model 52. The rifle weighs about 12+ pounds and the 24-power Redfield target scope mounted on it adds another 2 pounds. The scope parallax adjusts down to 25 yards.

Remington model 37
Remington model 37 Rangemaster is a vintage world-class target rifle.

The later model 37s like mine had what Remington referred to as the “Miracle Trigger.” When you squeeze the blade no movement can be felt. The rifle simply fires when enough pressure is applied. There is no overtravel to adjust because the trigger blade has no travel, whatsoever. Some target shooters consider this trigger to be the best they have ever felt. I wouldn’t go that far. It’s just a very good target trigger.

Ruger 10/22 rifle

The 37 is the rifle that shot both the CCI Quiet and the CCI Subsonic Hollowpoint cartridges. Now let’s peek at the Ruger 10/22 rifle.

Ruger 10/22 rifle
The 10/22 is a rifle, not a carbine. It has proven to be extremely accurate.

Now we’ll look at the accuracy of all three cartridges. The first two are shot from the Remington and the last one is from the 10/22.

CCI Quiet accuracy

I shot at 25 yards using a 10-meter air rifle target. The rifle was rested in a rifle rest that has adjustable movements in both elevation and windage directions, via long screws.

The first shot with the Quiets landed 3.1 inches below the aim point and slightly to the right. I thought I would have to adjust the scope when I saw it. I didn’t want to hit the 10-ring and destroy my aim point, but I did want to land somewhere inside the bull I aimed at.

I was surprised when shot 2 hit the paper more than an inch and a half higher. Shot three was even higher — just outside the bull I was aiming at, so I decided to shoot a 5-shot group from there. Five Quiet bullets went into 0.527-inches between centers at 25 yards.

Quiet group
The first CCI Quiet hit over three inches low, but by shot three the rifle was grouping on the bull I aimed at. The top 5 shots are in a 0.527-inch group at 25 yards.

In the past this Remington model 37 has put 5 CCI standard speed rounds into 0.375-inches at 50 yards. That should give you a good idea of the rifle’s capability. Naturally one 5-shot group isn’t the final word, but for the sake of this test, I will accept it.

CCI Subsonic Hollowpoint accuracy

Next I shot 5 CCI Subsonic Hollowpoints. The scope was not adjusted. Five bullets went into 0.325-inches at 25 yards. That’s the sort of accuracy I expect from this rifle.

Subsonic group
The Remington model 37 put 5 CCI Subsonic Hollowpoints into this 0.325-inch group.

Quiet Semi-Auto accuracy

The last cartridge I tested was the CCI Quiet Semi-Auto. I tested it in a Ruger 10/22 rifle. I own both a 10/22 carbine that is not accurate and the rifle with a 20-inch barrel that is. My rifle is scoped with a vintage steel Weaver V9-IIW, a 3-9 variable with a 32 mm objective lens. 

I shot a 5-shot group of the Semi-Auto cartridges at 25 yards and got a 0.535-inch group. That’s okay but nothing special.

Quiet SA group
Five shots of Quiet Semi-Auto ammo from the 10/22 went into 0.535-inches at 25 yards.

That was when it dawned on me that this scope is variable and I had shot it on 3 power! So I adjusted the power up to 9 and then discovered that the minimum parallax distance is 50 yards. The bull was blurry on 9 power, but I shot another 5-shot group anyway. It measures 0.807-inches between centers at 25 yards. It’s the largest 5-shot group of the test.

1Quiet SA group 9X
Running the scope at 9-power did not help things. The target was blurry and the group is the largest of the test — five shots in 0.807-inches.

What to do? Three power was too low for precision and nine power made the target blurry. I split the difference and went to 6-power. That sharpened the target considerably. This time 5 shots went into 0.499-inches.

Quiet SA group 6X
Six power proved to be the baby-bear magnification for this scope at 25 yards. Five bullets went into 0.499-inches at 25 yards. The target was sharp and the group is the smallest of the three I fired with this cartridge.

Summary

Dave was right about the CCI Quiet. It is quieter than a lot of PCPs. And to my surprise it’s quieter than the CCI CB Short that shoots a 29-grain bullet at the same 710 f.p.s. as the Quiet’s 40-grainer.

It’s not super-accurate — at least not in my Remington 37 target rifle. But it’s about as good as the CB caps I tested for you in 2011. Those were tested in my Winder target rifle that’s chambered for shorts.

Not that any of this ammo is available in the U.S. at this time. They are being made but they are being snapped up as soon as they come to market. You can request the dealer to alert you when a shipment becomes available and that’s about the best you can hope for until things change.


1896 New King Single Shot: Part 4

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

1896 King
1896 New King single shot BB gun.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • 4.55 mm lead ball
  • Moved to 10 feet
  • The first “group”
  • Second thing I did wrong
  • Correction
  • 4.50 mm ball
  • Marksman BBs
  • Summary

I couldn’t resist! I just had to know how this old girl shot. So today we will find out together.

The test

I started the test at 5 meters, like all BB gun tests. I rested the gun on the UTG monopod and I sat in a chair. I vowed to push all the balls down the barrel with the cleaning rod, but I changed that one time while the test was underway. Let’s get started!

4.55 mm lead ball

First to be tested was the 4.55 mm lead ball that comes as close as possible to the 0.180-inch BB caliber. It measures 0.179-inches in diameter. I fired the first shot and the sound from downrange was not what I expected. So I went and examined the target. There were no holes in the target!

Moved to 10 feet

I then moved my chair so the muzzle of the gun would be about 10 feet from the target. This time the ball hit the paper target, but it did so 1.3-inches below and 1.7-inches to the left of the bull. I had been taking a 6 o’clock hold, which was obviously too low on the target, so I tried to hold for the target’s center for the remainder of the shots. There was a second problem I will mention after I show you this group, but I hadn’t discovered it yet.

The first “group”

1896 King 455 group
At first glance all the shots seem to be in the same vicinity, though not in an especially good group. But that’s deceiving. There is a nick on the target’s edge below and to the right of the dime. And to the left of the Official Competition logo is another hole. This is ten shots in 3.121-inches AT 10 FEET!

Second thing I did wrong

I mentioned that I did something else wrong on the first target and it was how I sighted the gun. The rear notch is extremely wide and the front sight is very low and small, so what I did was hold the tip of the front sight at the bottom of the rear notch. This is called  holding a fine bead when you shoot a muzzleloader and the shape of the rear notch made me do it instinctively. Let me show you.

fine bead
This is a fine bead that I used with the 1896 King. It was set to shoot too low!

Correction

For the next target I tried something different. I started shooting with a high rear sight hold in the center of the bull, but both the first two shots landed low. They are down by the writing at the bottom of the target. So I needed a higher aim point.

I drew a cross above the bullseye to use as an aim point, and I held the front sight up as far in the rear notch as I could. The sight isn’t tall enough to go all the way to the top of the rear notch without some of the barrel showing as well. But I did the best I could. You will see the results of that on the next target.

4.50 mm ball

This time I shot the 4.50 mm lead ball from H&N. With the new sight picture and sight alignment the shots were hitting around the bull!

I could hear that the BBs were rolling all the way down the shot tube, so on the fourth or fifth shot I tried not pushing the cleaning rod down the bore. Big mistake! That one shot landed low and outside the others. Back to the cleaning rod. I shot 10 of these balls with the new sight picture and got a group that measures 3.711-inches between centers. If I hadn’t dropped that one shot the group measures 2.337-inches between centers. But remember — it’s from 10 feet.

1896 King 450 group
When I aimed at the center of the cross on top this is where the 4.50 mm BBs landed. I shot 10 BBs, aiming at the cross. The lowest shot on the left was when I did not push the BB into the breech with the cleaning rod and it opened the group by more than one inch.

Marksman BBs

Do you remember the Marksman BBs that measure 0.176-inches in diameter and are too large for the majority of BB guns? Reader Michael asked whether I had considered testing them and I told him I might, though I thought their small size would make them inaccurate. Well, it did! I can’t tell you the size of a 10-shot group because 10 BBs did not hit the target paper, but the centers of the nine that did are 7-1/4-inches apart! And this is from 10 feet!

1896 King Marksman group
The Marksman oversized BBs did not do well in this gun. Only nine of 10 hit the paper and they are about 7-1/4-inches apart.

Summary

That concludes our look at the 1896 New King BB gun from Markham. I said in Part 2 I thought it could have been more powerful when new. It may have been, and having proper 0.180-inch BB shot might make a tremendous difference in accuracy, given what 0.179-inch balls were able to do. But all of that is just conjecture at this point.

What I do know is the barrel  is still not perfectly straight. As it is this little gun cocks easily and is a joy to shoot. Plus it’s nice to look at. I guess that’s all we can hope for.


1896 New King Single Shot: Part 3

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

1896 King
1896 New King single shot BB gun.

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Straightening the barrel
  • 4.55 mm BBs dropped to bottom
  • It also shoots 4.5 mm balls
  • 4.55 mm lead balls
  • Velocity
  • Muzzle energy
  • Oops!
  • 4.50 mm lead balls
  • Discussion
  • What does today’s test give us? 
  • Summary

Today I tell you how straightening the barrel of this century-old BB gun went and then we look at its performance. Last time I shot a single BB out at 157 f.p.s. What will she do today?

Straightening the barrel

Boy, did I ever have a lot of helpers ready to school me on how to straighten this solid brass shot tube! The way some of you talked you would think this thing is going into a NASA satellite!

I straightened the shot tube exactly as I described to you in Part 2, by laying it on a flat steel table (on my vise) and tapping it gently with the wide head of a plastic hammer.

The photo I showed you made it look like there was a single bend in the tube. The truth was the tube was bent in numerous places. It was twisted subtly into a serpentine shape.

I have some experience doing things this way, and in less than 10 minutes I had it much straighter. I also cleaned the inside of the shot tube with a wire bore brush. It’s not perfect, and I doubt it ever will be, but it’s better than it was.

4.55 mm BBs dropped to bottom

After straightening and cleaning the 4.55 mm lead balls dropped all the way down the shot tube to the place where the tube tapers smaller. After maybe 10 shots, though, the BBs began stopping a couple inches up from the bottom and remained that way for a while. I still had to seat the BB into the tapered place with a cleaning rod, but now they all shoot out. And I picked up one additional thing by straightening and cleaning the shot tube.

It also shoots 4.5 mm balls

Now that the ball goes into the tapered place in the shot tube, I can also load 4.50 mm lead balls. They are lighter than the 4.55 mm balls. But, better than that, they are widely available. Where the 4.55 MM balls are expensive and hard to find, the 4.50 mm balls are standard airgun ammunition.

4.55 mm lead balls

These are number 12 zimmerstutzen balls. If you don’t know what that means, read my article on zimmerstutzens. After straightening and cleaning the bore they were stopping about two inches from the bottom of the shot tube. Before I straightened and cleaned the barrel they had been stopping about two inches from the muzzle, so there was definite improvement.

Velocity

The one shot I got with these balls in Part 2 was recorded at 157 f.p.s. That was before the barrel was straightened and cleaned. Today five shots averaged 159 f.p.s. They ranged from a low of 157 to a high of 161 f.p.s. — a difference of 4 f.p.s.

Just for fun I then dropped a ball into the shot tube and did not press it in with a cleaning rod. It did seem to fall all the way into the tapered breech. It came out at 154 f.p.s.

Muzzle energy

The 4.55 mm lead balls weigh from 8.5 to 8.7 grains If we take 8.6 grains as the average, at 159 f.p.s. this little BB gun generates 0.48 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That’s less than a lot of airsoft guns!

Oops!

This little BB gun is not perfect. While I was shooting the 4.55 mm balls, the entire shot tube came out of the gun on one shot! It apparently works free, now that I have removed it so many times and also oiled the airgun liberally.

4.50 mm lead balls

Next I shot H&N 4.50 mm lead balls. Pyramyd Air isn’t stocking them at present, but they do have Gamo 4.50 mm lead balls. The H&N balls I shot weighed a very uniform 8.3 grains. They all seemed to drop into the taper in the shot tube, but to keep both tests the same I also pushed them lightly into the breech with the cleaning rod and discovered that they were already there!

These balls averaged 159 f.p.s. for 5 shots, as well. Their velocity ranged from a low of 157 to a high of 161 f.p.s. a difference of 4 f.p.s. But their lighter weight gave a muzzle energy of 0.47 foot-pounds.

Just for fun I then dropped one of these smaller balls into the muzzle and shot it without pushing it into the breech with the cleaning rod. That one registered 157 f.p.s. on the chronograph. So it does reach the breech.

Discussion

The smaller lead ball may not go faster because there is more room inside the bore for the air to blow past the ball. I don’t want to try any smaller balls because I think accuracy will suffer. Remember that we learned that lesson while testing the Tell BB gun.

What does today’s test give us? 

Today’s little test gives us two lead balls to test for accuracy. I believe I will press all the balls down with the cleaning rod, but not hard. I just want to be certain they are all at the breech.

Summary

Well, this little 120-year-old BB gun still works. It may not have been too much more powerful that this when it was new — maybe 200 to 225 f.p.s.?. It cocks easily and is as light as a feather. Ideal for children!


How to mount a scope: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • More scope stuff
  • Swap the rings
  • Spiraling pellets
  • What to do about spiraling pellets
  • Misaligned scope
  • How to correct the misaligned scope
  • Setting up a rifle
  • BB did NOT say all bundled scopes are bad!
  • Scope stiction
  • Sighting-in for one distance
  • Summary

More scope stuff

While we are finished with mounting a scope, there is more to tell. A lot of it does come to the forefront when you mount a scope, so it is germane to this discussion. We have touched on some of it before, but today I hope to tell you how to deal with it.

Swap the rings

This is a trick that can help resolve many of the problems we will see today. It’s also one of the big reasons that I prefer 2-piece rings to 1-piece. Someone asked last time what can be done when the scope’s axis is out of alignment with the barrel. Well, that is often the case. The way you find it out is — after you sight the rifle in you try to shoot at different distances and discover that your pellet is off to one side or the other. What can be done?

If you have 1-piece rings you can sometimes remove them and turn them around, so the ring that was in the rear becomes the front ring. I say you can do this only sometimes because you may be scoping a recoiling spring-piston rifle and you need the scope stop pin that’s built into one end of the mount. If that’s true you can always install a separate scope stop, but that pushes the whole scope mount forward and what does that then do to your eye relief?

With 2-piece rings you can make the same swap as the 1-piece, plus you can also turn either ring around — or both! We like to think that our scope rings are perfectly bored and aligned with their bases, and that’s often true, but when it isn’t it makes installing a scope a lot more difficult.

Spiraling pellets

Do pellets spiral as they travel downrange? I have seen them do it as I watched the target through a scope. I had bright sun behind me to reflect off the pellet skirt when this happened.

The pellet is traveling down range in a spiral path. Their movement is not caused by the wind. I ruled that out because of the tightness of the groups and because the wind was under 3 mph on the day they were shot. That leaves spiraling as the most likely culprit –- assuming I am right in my suspicions. For the sake of discussion, let’s say I am right and the pellets are spiraling.

spiraling pellets
This graphic portrays a pellet that spirals as it travels downrange. Even if you don’t see it through the scope you can see the results of it in the groups that are shot.

The only thing I can think of that would cause spiraling is an unstable (yawing) pellet that precesses around its axis in the direction of the spin. If you have ever seen a washing machine become unbalanced on the the spin cycle and hop around the floor in a certain pattern, you have witnessed the phenomenon of precession. Or, watch a top as it runs down.

pellet yaw

It has been known for over a century that bullets can precess. I believe it was discovered very shortly after elongated bullets were first used in rifled barrels. Years ago, I read an article in The American Rifleman about a test on the brush-bucking ability of a .30 cal. bullet. Once stability was disturbed by a stout branch, the bullet began to precess in the direction of twist in an ever-increasing spiral. Of course, that test is not the same thing that I’m discussing here, as the instability there was induced mechanically down range by the bullet striking a broomstick rather than yaw at the muzzle and differential air pressure. But it does show that bullets can travel in a spiral path.

Bullets (and pellets) can also be made unstable by their twist. Varmint shooters are aware that thin-jacketed bullets have been known to explode in flight from the centrifugal force of their spin. And tumbling, or more probably precession coupled with pronounced yawing, is well-known from the early days of the M-16’s development. I remember that a rifleman had little chance of hitting a man-sized target at 300 yards with early M16 rifles. The bullet design/twist rate combination had not been worked out correctly at that time.

With a right-hand twist, the precession spiral would be clockwise from the shooter’s perspective. I would also expect the spiral to enlarge as the pellet gets further from the muzzle.

Okay–so what does all this toffee-nosed drivel mean to real airgunners? It means that even if you correctly adjust your scope for trajectory, there’s still a big chance you won’t hit that half-inch kill-zone at 15 yards. Not because you’re too high or too low, but because you are too left or too right! If you’re throwing a spiral and your pellet isn’t centered on the line of sight at the range you expect it to be, you could miss.

What to do about spiraling pellets

Don’t shoot them! Find other pellets that don’t spiral, because they don’t all do it. If you can adjust the velocity, such as with a PCP, try that. My experience, though, is that if a pellet spirals from a certain airgun it tends to do it all the time, regardless of what you do.

Misaligned scope

Sometimes the optical axis of the scope is not aligned with the bore. This will give you similar results to the spiraling pellet, with some important exceptions. The first of these is the fact that the pellet will always be on one side of the centerline until it crosses over the line at some distance. Then it will remain on the other side. A spiraling pellet moves back and forth across the centerline.

misaligned scope
When the scope isn’t in line with the bore, this happens. It may be very subtle and difficult to see and the slant can go either way — to the left like this or to the right.

The second exception that the misaligned scope gives is the pellets fly in a normal trajectory. Pellets that spiral do so up against gravity as they fly downrange. The center of the spiral drops in the usual way but as the spiral widens, these pellets sometimes actually appear to be rising! You have to keep in mind that these pellets are actually flying on their own, due to low air pressure on one side. Thus they seem to defy the laws of physics.

How to correct the misaligned scope

There are a couple of things to consider here. First — is the scope base on the rifle the thing that’s misaligned? Reader shootski talked about having to correct a firearm that was drilled and tapped for scope rings in the wrong place. If that is the problem, you should first consider whether it’s worth the time and effort to correct. If it is, spend the time and money to do it right.

Once the scope base is either fixed or ruled out your next concern are the rings you intend to install. Are they worth it? A $10 pair of rings from the discount store can give you many of the problems we have just discussed. I own many dozens of rings, but I only use the ones I trust.

Once you have the rings you intend using, remember what was said about swapping them end-for-end and even turning them around individually if they are 2-piece. When you have exhausted all the repositioning options, consider using a different set of rings. I know this flies in the face of shooting on the cheap but which would you rather do — save money or hit your target? 

Setting up a rifle

You buy a new air rifle and there is joy in your castle! This new rifle will solve all your problems. It is infinitely accurate (whatever that means) and powerful enough to get the job done. Let’s say you stretched for this one and the new rifle cost you $280, delivered. But wait! You are not done. Figure another $100-150 for a decent scope — not a world-beater but also not one from the bargain barrel. Mounts will cost another $20-50, depending on the rifle and what you want to do. Your $280 investment just swelled to $400 to $480. That’s how much your new air rifle really costs! No wonder so many people swear by open sights!

Then, and only then, do you get to go through all the steps we have addressed in these five reports. Oh, and someone says, “That’s why I always buy the scope that comes bundled with the rifle I’m buying.” And do you also take delivery of that new $45,000 ATV with the tires they put on at the factory? Now, I know that remark is going to start a firestorm of controversy, or at least it should. Unless you guys don’t know tires!

If there is a lot of discussion about the tires, just substitute bundled scopes and scope mounts for tires and you will understand what I am telling you. Are all bundle deals bad?

BB did NOT say all bundled scopes are bad!

No, all scopes and mounts that come bundled with rifles are not bad. Let me give an example. The Sig ASP20 that’s bundled with the Whiskey 3 scope is a great deal! Yes, it does cost a lot of money, but it is a perfect example of you get what you pay for. It’s not a bundle where they are getting rid of scopes they can’t sell.

There are other good bundled scope deals. Look to the dealers who bundle — they seldom have warehouses of scopes to get rid of, and your loyalty means a lot more to them than it does to a manufacturer who looks to three or four major outlet chains as their primary customers.

Scope stiction

This is one you need to experience to appreciate. Some scopes resist being adjusted until they are jarred once or twice. These tend to be the less expensive scopes and they usually wind up on spring-piston rifles that have all the jarring they need. This failure to move to the new adjustment is called stiction. I’m not qualified to explain what it is, but I think it is a combination of static electricity and a weaker erector return spring — or a spring that is fully relaxed.

The solution to stiction is to bump the scope with the heel of your hand after every adjustment. Either do that or fire the rifle twice before firing for record. I wish I could tell you what to watch out for, but all I know is when a scope doesn’t have stiction it becomes one of my favorites!

Sighting-in for one distance

This is not about any special techniques or tricks. It’s just an eye-opener that we all need to be aware of.  When you sight in a scope for one distance, like 100 yards, and you leave it there you solve a large portion of all the scope problems there are. Canting is still an issue but all the stuff I’ve discussed today is moot.

It’s only when you want to use your scope at different distances that these things arise. And there is something you can do about it. Use the lowest power magnification you can get away with. I don’t expect you to shoot squirrels at 100 yards with a 2-power scope, but 6 or 8 power is much better than 32 power. Why? Because it takes your focus off minutia. It does what open sights do, only it also helps those whose eyes aren’t up to the task.

Field target competitors are an exception to this, so they need to set their scopes to work well between 10 and 50 meters. They could care less what happens at 60 meters, where a hunter has to care. The field target competitor has a harder job because of the range in which his scope must work, but at least there are boundaries.

Summary

I have addressed several concerns you readers have raised, plus a couple of my own. I will watch the comments to this report to see if any more in this series are required.