Crosman Precision Diopter Sight System: Part 1
This report covers:
- The plan
- The whole story
- Challenger PCP and Challenger PCP 2009
- Front sight
- Rear sight
- Missed the boat
For some things BB is easy. Only one reader asked me for this report, but since it was already on my mind, it’s happening. Crosman has created a world-class precision 10-meter sighting system to go on their new Challenger PCP. That rifle has been out for 6 months already but it isn’t available at Pyramyd Air yet. But this sight is available now, so today I start looking at it all by itself. Crosman calls it their Precision Diopter Sight System.
The plan is to test this new sight on a Challenger 2009 PCP. What the heck is a Challenger 2009 PCP? Well, there is a story. Yes, today’s report is about Crosman’s new Precision Target Sight System, but you gotta know the whole story!
The whole story
Back around the turn of the Millennium, Crosman made a 10-meter junior marksman target rifle that was based on — wait for it — a Benjamin 397! They called that one the Challenger 2000. Its sole purpose in life was to carve out some of the market share Daisy enjoyed with their Avanti 853. Until that time Daisy was the only company with their hand in the cookie jar that the NRA revealed at a SHOT Show Airgun Breakfast in the late 1990s was closing in on a MILLON junior marksmen each year, in 75,000 clubs across the US. Yepper, Crosman was asleep at the wheel. Everybody but Daisy was asleep, and Daisy wanted them to slumber peacefully!
Now, the Benjamin 397 was a fine multi-pump air rifle, but it warn’t no 10-meter target rifle — not by a long shot. It was about like giving a cigar box guitar to Jimi Hendrix and asking for a riff. So the Crosman Challenger 2000 didn’t meet with wide acceptance. As a result, not too many of them are around.
The Challenger 2000 ran on one CO2 cartridge and got about 75 good shots per fill. The trigger was better than the one on the 397 and broke cleanly at 2.5 lbs. The stock was ambidextrous and the cocking was via a T-handle, much like the AR-15. In many respects this rifle beat the Daisy 853 but its barrel let it down. It was that same 397 soldered barrel going up against Daisy’s Lothar Walther barrel that was hard to beat. In target rifles, accuracy is everything and the Challenger 2000 just didn’t have what it took. Crosman took notice and changed it, resulting in the Challenger PCP that then morphed into the Challenger PCP 2009.
Challenger PCP and Challenger PCP 2009
The Challenger PCP was the CO2 Challenger that was updated in a couple important ways. Number one was the barrel. It was now and shall ever be a Lothar Walther barrel. I say ever, but if Crosman learns to rifle barrels better than Lothar Walther that could change. I will tell you all a secret right now. Airgun barrels are one of the hottest topics for improvement in this hobby today.
The Challenger was taken off CO2 and given high pressure air. Air is more consistent than CO2 and enables the use of regulators that further stabilize the pressure behind each pellet. Plus they can have gauges that can be read, rather than pins that pop out as long as there is gas remaining like some CO2 guns do.
The good things like the trigger and the stock were retained, but the stock was enhanced and the Challenger PCP 2009 was a target rifle capable of holding its own with the 853 that was very long in the tooth by this time. Even Daisy was trying to get rid of it, which they now have.
And all of that led to the development and launch of the latest Challenger PCP, which is quite far from the original rifle 22 years ago. It’s the one pictured above that has the sights we are now looking at. Crosman tells me that it’s been out all this year but Pyramyd Air has not gotten any yet, so I think Crosman is marketing it in a different way — by direct sales. When it becomes available I will test one for you, but today I’m looking at just the sights.
This is a sight system that includes both the front and rear sights. Most target front sights give you inserts, and this one is no different. In this one you get a range of front aperture inserts that go from 3.8mm to 4.4mm. That’s good BUT you also get a SECOND set of the same apertures that can be ROTATED in the front sight from side to side to adjust the sights for CANT!
Now you might ask, as I did, how can a round aperture be canted? Well — it can’t! Ha, ha! However the horizontal bar that holds the aperture can be tilted or canted and that is what Crosman is talking about. If a target shooter sees that bar rotated against the target time after time, it wears on them. This system allows both front and rear sights to be rotated the same to appear level when the rifle is held comfortably (canted).
The rear sight can also be canted to match whatever is done to the front, so the shooter sees the sights as level with the target even though he or she is holding the rifle on a cant. Genius!
The rear sight is also cant-able. It is a conventional target rear sight with click detent adjustments in both directions. The detents are not audible but they have great tactile feel when adjusted. There are index scales on both adjustments, but no numbers on the windage knobs.
Crosman also packs a white plastic blinder in with the rear sight. The blinder allows the shooter to keep both eyes open which is essential for accurate shooting, yet the non-sighting eye sees nothing to confuse the brain. There are shooters who close their off eye and will swear that it’s more accurate that way, but I have demonstrated several times in this blog why that can’t be. Both eyes must be open for the best sight picture. The blinder makes it easier for shooters who get confused with both eyes seeing different things. And of course it is ambidextrous like the sight itself.
This sight is constructed out of good materials that make sense in the 21st century. And now the peanut gallery is clutching their collective breast and shouting, “Oh, no! Plastic!” Well, hold your horses, guys. There is exactly the same amount of plastic on this rear sight as can be found on a Feinwerkbau target sight made for the FWB 300S! That’s correct — the adjustment knobs on both sights are plastic. The rest of the parts are aluminum and steel.
Missed the boat
The one place where I was concerned that the designers may have missed the boat is the thread pattern of the eyepiece in the rear sight. The eyepiece has male threads that don’t seem to conform to anything old or current that I can find on the market. I emailed Ed Schultz and he found that a Hammerli rear sight peephole did interchange with this sight, so apparently some thought was given to it.
This target sight system was well thought out and well executed. Yes it was manufactured in China, but it’s Crosman’s design and it shows innovation that makes me proud.
My plan is to mount these sights on the Challenger 2009 PCP target rifle and give them a test. And, if a newer version of the Challenger becomes available and I still have the sights I will test them there, again.