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Beeman R8 and the SubMOA challenge: Part 1

Beeman R8 Tyrolean
Beeman R8 Tyrolean.

This report covers:

  • History
  • Back to the present
  • The scope
  • Today’s test
  • Group 1
  • Group 2
  • Group 3
  • Tightened the pivot bolt
  • Adjusted the scope
  • Group 4
  • Getting nowhere
  • Group 5
  • Adjusted the scope
  • Group 6
  • So, what?
  • Hold your horses!

Today I start a very special 2-day report. I have a lot to say and it will take two reports to get through all of it. I’m starting a series on a vintage breakbarrel air rifle — a Beeman R8 that’s been customized.

History

This rifle was gifted to me in 2010 after I got home from a 3-1/2-month stay in two different hospitals. We didn’t know if I would ever come home and when I did I was extremely weak. I was fed through a tube in my left arm for three months, during which I went from 314 lbs. (the first hospital punctured my diaphragm, so they filled me full of steroids that bulked me up) to 174 lbs — a journey in itself.

I returned home in June and on June 25 I started the report on this rifle. On July 2 I did a Part 2 velocity test and learned how wonderful this rifle is. It cocked with 25 lbs. effort and was as smooth as any spring-piston air rifle I own save the TX200 Mark III with the Tony Leach 22mm piston tune. Now, let’s read a bit of that 2010 report.

The Beeman R8 was imported and sold by Beeman from 1983 through 1997. I had no idea it was that old or lasted so long until I looked it up in the new Blue Book of Airguns, 8th Edition. It was made only in .177 and produced 720 f.p.s. — presumably with lightweight pellets. I believe it was a kissing cousin of the Weihrauch HW50 of the day (that rifle is still being sold, but it’s not the same gun as it was back then). The R8 had Beeman R1 styling, which meant checkering on the pistol grip, a stock that extended to the end of the base block and a sharp contour to the cheekpiece. At 7.1 lbs., it was a slightly bigger brother to the Beeman R7.

As you can see from the picture, my R8 isn’t 100 percent stock. In fact, it was extensively re-worked. Besides the Tyrolean stock, which I’ll address in a moment, the action has Maccari internals. It was tuned for smoothness but still has a powerful mainspring. The spring guide and top hat are custom, and the compression tube was burnished with moly for slickness. The piston seal is a Wasp.

The stock is Tyrolean but with an important difference. It’s been thinned and canted to the left (which makes the cheekpiece cant slightly to the right) to align the shooter’s eye with the scope. Often, the deeply cupped cheekpiece pushes your head to the left, making acquisition of the sight a chore, but this one comes up almost like an upland shotgun. That and the flat buttpad will help when benching the rifle. This rifle was created specifically for offhand mini-sniping.

Maccari supplied the shaped, high-grade, curly maple stock that was then reduced in thickness, sanded and stained with nitric acid to enhance the figure in the wood. Eight coats of Permalyn were applied, then sanded and waxed to give the luster you see here.

Beeman R8 butt
The Maccari-made R8 Tyrolean buttstock is a thing of beauty.

The butt was thinned to keep the shooter’s face aligned with the scope. It’s also canted to the left. The pistol grip has a palm swell on the right side.

Back to the present

So Pyramyd Air has come out with this SubMOA Challenge and after Friday’s report I thought I’d show you how hard it really is. I wanted to shoot a springer at 25 yards, so the centers of all five of my shots had to be less than a quarter-inch apart. That SubMOA card looks really large at the top of Friday’s report. Let’s now see how large it really is. 

SubMOA card
The SubMOA card isn’t so large when you see it on top of a tin of pellets.

The scope

When I received this rifle it had a Burris Timberline 4.5-14X32 scope. Over the course of time I needed that scope for a couple other tests so it wasn’t on the rifle anymore. I wanted to mount a Meopta MeoSport 3-15X50 on this rifle, but the Meopta bases for that scope have two crossbars and cannot be used with the UTG Weaver to 11mm adaptor, which is the only Weaver to 11mm adaptor I know of. Those Meopta scope mounts are peculiar to that one scope because they have the line on the ring that aligns with the line on the underside of the scope.

Meopta ring
The base of the proprietary Meopta scope ring has two Picatinny crossbars while the UTG adaptor that converts it to 11mm has only one slot. The Meopta mounts cannot use this adaptor.

So I mounted a Hawke 4-14X42 Sidewinder scope on the rifle. I thought one 4.5-14 is like another 4.5-14. Right? However, I later realized that the Meopta scope mounts don’t have to be used. Any 30mm scope rings will work. I’ll come back to that.

R8 two scopes
The 3-15 Meopta MeoSport on top and the Hawke 4.5-14 below. The shorter Meopta gives a broader range of positioning options.

Back in 2010 this rifle was very accurate. It put five JSB Exact RS pellets into a 0.217-inch group at 25 yards. 

JSB RS target1
Back in 2010 the R8 Tyrolean put five JSB Exact RS pellets into this 0.217-inch group at 25 yards.

Yes, that is a sub minute of angle group. See how small it is next to the dime? That is what you have to do to enter the SubMOA Challenge. And if this rifle could do it then it should be able to do it today — right?

Today’s test

Today I will shoot just one pellet — the .177-caliber JSB Exact RS that did so well in this rifle twelve years ago. And I will shoot five-shot groups because that is the requirement for the SubMOA Challenge.

Sight-in consisted of two shots at 12 feet, followed by a shot at 10 meters. Then I backed up to 25 yards and shot once more. I was in the bullseye, but not in the center so my aim point was preserved.

I rested the rifle directly on the sandbag with the entire forearm resting on the bag. 

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Group 1

The first group was five pellets in 0.308 inches, center-to-center, at 25 yards. It’s a good group but not sub MOA.

R8 group 1
The first group of JSB RS pellets the R8 shot at 25 yards were five in 0.308-inches, center-to-center.

Group 2

The second group looked smaller to my eye but when I measured it, it was 0.33-inches between centers.

R8 group 2
The second group measures 0.33-inches between centers at 25 yards. At the time it looked like the smallest group.

Remember — I’m only shooting JSB Exact RS pellets. After the second group I moved the forearm of the rifle forward in the sandbag (by bringing the sandbag back) until my shooting hand was lodged in the end of the bag.

Group 3

The third group measures 0.458-inches between centers. Ouch! There were no shots that were called as pulled.

R8 group 3
The R8 put five JSB RS pellets in 0.458-inches at 25 yards.

Tightened the pivot bolt

At this point I noticed that the barrel pivot bolt was so loose that the barrel would not remain in position after the rifle was cocked. That’s too loose and can lead to inaccuracy, so I tightened it.

Adjusted the scope

I adjusted the scope down by 4 clicks before the next group. I also slid the sandbag forward to rest the forearm on just the tip.

Group 4

This time five JSB RS pellets went into 0.37-inches at 25 yards. So we’re back to where we started.

R8 group 4
The R8 put five JSB RS pellets into a 0.37-inch group at 25 yards.

Getting nowhere

At this point in the test I realized I was getting nowhere. This rifle that had been a tackdriver twelve years ago was now just a good plinker. Are you starting to see how hard it is to shoot a quarter-inch group at 25 yards? What I thought was the best group thus far wasn’t even close.

R8 MOA card group
What I had thought was the best group so far wasn’t close to a quarter inch — to say nothing of being even smaller.

I didn’t change anything for the next group. I just hoped I would settle down and fly right.

Group 5

I have no explanation for this group. Like I said I changed nothing from the last group and yet I said, “HUH?” when I look at the target. Five shots went into 0.551-inches at 25 yards. I wish I could tell you it is the worst group of the test, but hold on. We’re not there yet.

R8 group 5
Five JSB pellets are in a very open 0.551-inch group at 25 yards.

Adjusted the scope

For the next group that is the last group I will show you today I adjusted the scope 6 clicks to the right. You know what they say about crazy people.

Group 6

In this last group, five JSB pellets went into 0.769-inches at 25 yards. The first three pellets are in 0.108-inches and then pellet four opens the group to 0.334-inches as it wanders over to the right. The last pellet opened the group to 0.769-inches.

R8 group 6
Five shots in 0.769-inches at 25 yards.

Ladies and gentlemen — I give you scope stiction! That is a classic example of that malady. And THAT, my friends, tells BB what’s happening. He has shot too long and has lost his concentration AND this scope is adjusted too high and right to hold a group. At least that is my story.

I did shoot one more group but it was no better. I will shoot a second test tomorrow — with a different scope. This time BB will use the scope he wanted to test all along — the smaller Meopta MeoSport 3-15X50 shown in the photo above.

So, what?

As of the time that I am writing this on Saturday I have not mounted the other scope on the rifle. Will accuracy improve? I don’t know. I am letting you all peek behind the curtain to watch me as I go through the same stuff I tell you to do.

Hold your horses!

Before you fly off on a tangent and try to solve the universe’s problems let’s consider that the first four groups I showed you are not that bad for 25 yards. They seem bad when compared to what I did back in 2010, but this is still an accurate air rifle. I’m just letting you look over my shoulder while I attempt to do something that is very difficult to do — shoot a quarter-inch group at 25 yards with a springer. Let’s remember that!

32 thoughts on “Beeman R8 and the SubMOA challenge: Part 1”

  1. B.B.

    If you mounted the Hawke scope in a drooper mount, wouldn’t that of solved your problem.? You could then adjust the turrets to be more in the central scope springs range.
    I know in Part 2 you will shoot the sub-moa group.

    -Y

    PS now you have to choose a gun to enter the Elite and Legendary Classes.

  2. BB,

    I will admit I cannot even do what you have done with what I have. Something you did not mention in the report though was if you checked if the stock screws were snugged tight before shooting. It’s been sometime since this rifle had been to the range I think and the wooden stock may not be securely holding on to the action.

    Siraniko

  3. I would be ecstatic if my Crosman F4 (same ad s Crosman Fire) would get groups like this at 25 yards. I use it for night rating and taking out belligerent roosters and such. Shot some groups today with RWS Basics at 7 yards. I was getting 2 shots together, and then one like 2″ low. Horible. Decided to try dome Daisy wadcuters, and the gun stopped throwing fliars! Yes, I said Daisy flat nose! This gun used to like the Basics. Those Daisy’s leave a lot of smoke in barrels, but they hit hard. You can see why I have been very interested in your review of the Fire model.

    • birdmove,

      I think the RWS Basic and Geco (not sure if you get the latter in the US) can be a bit of a crapshoot. People have reported that they had two different kinds of pellets in one tin.

      On the other hand, they can be quite good if you get a good tin.

      I don’t like surprises, so I just buy the “Club” which are still reasonably priced. They seem to work pretty well in my Weihrauch HW45 and Diana LP5G.

      A friend just got several types of pellets to try in his new Diana 35, including those two.

      I inspected them and also shot 10 shot groups at 10 meters.

      This time, they all looked like Clubs and also produced similar (pretty good) groups to the Clubs when shot from my 1979 FWB 300 S from a rest.

      By the way also shot a group with H&N Sport (which is what I usually use in my rifles). Now *that* one could make you wonder why you even need the more expensive pellets… But that’s just my gun and that particular tin of pellets.

      To be clear, I don’t know if Basics and Gecos are like that right now and if the people who reported it had a bad batch.
      I just don’t want to open 10 tins of pellets to check whether they are all the same type and I’ll take the extra potential for accuracy as a bonus.

      Stephan

  4. BB

    Confirming a .25 inch group at 25 yards with a springer, even with a FWB300S, is not going to be easy. You know this and are likely just proving the point. There are way too many variables to overcome. This test also makes a statement about stiction. I look forward to seeing what the Meopta scope can do. Not saying you can’t get a sub .25 inch group tomorrow.

    What is it with the ruler in your 2010 photo? The dime confirms the group size but the ruler disputes it. I’m only on my first cup of coffee so it could just be me.

    Deck

  5. Oh by the way, since we’re talking about shot groups:

    this is the result I got when I tested “SWS Thunder” pellets from Sportwaffen Schneider in my FWB300S. I think those pellets are just their rebranded version of H&N Sport.

    Pretty amazing result given that they cost a little less than a Euro cent per shot. Yes, that’s a 10-shot group.

    Stephan

      • Thanks 🙂

        This 300S is an absolute beast when it comes to accuracy. Once you position it securely on the shooting bag, it practically shoots itself.

        My friend who is just starting with the sport shot a similar group with it. I was quite surprised.

        Oh, btw, we used a scope. I think I can shoot a good group with the diopter sights, but not *that* good.

        Now, shooting from a standing, off-hand position… That’s slightly more tricky. If I miss, it’s my fault, not the gun’s 🙂

        Stephan

    • That’s the nicest 10-cent, 10-shot group I have ever seen! Either that, or there are 9 more pellets embedded in your backstop than there were before…

      Seriously, though, that’s fantastic. Kudos to you!

      Now I am wondering if you can manage a minute of angle at 25 yards with her. Although you may have to find another pellet to reach out there.

    • Stephan
      Great shooting!!! I think I will try those pellets since I am also a happy customer of Schneider. Although I will never be able to shoot that good myself…

  6. I think that old R8 needs to be sent to a retirement home. I happen to know of a very nice one. Snuggled back in the hills of Virginia on twelve wooded acres. It has three shooting ranges, a covered one for 10 yards, a covered one for 25 yards and the newest with its own shooting bench with range markers for 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards. What more could an airgun ask for?

    In all seriousness, shooting sub-MOA with ANY sproinger is tough, most especially when you consider most sproingers shoot 1 to 2 MOA. It is going to take a custom tuned sproinger like this R8 or your TX200 to shoot a sub-MOA at 25 yards. Forget 50.

      • LOL! It is your blog and reviews of these old gals that helped get RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns going. Of course I have a large number of your old gals living here. They are pampered here and can expect many years of happy shooting with others their own ages. Can I help it that I like cream? 😉

  7. Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier), if I may, I don’t appear to be thinking straight today and need a little help understanding…

    Please, how does canting the stock one way, make the cheekpiece go the other way?
    Also, as I’m unfamiliar with an upland shotgun, in what way is that a favourable comparison?
    Last question: assuming those groups over 25 metres were achieved outdoors, what was the wind like then?

    Though I’m nowhere near as accurate with any of my airguns, I really enjoy learning from the thoughts and problem solving of a superior shooter.
    An one minute of angle accuracy appears not to have been challenging enough for you, Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier), so you decided to achieve it with a springer? Good luck! 🙂

  8. FM will take those groups you showed us today any time. There are reasons he will not be entering this contest and leaving it to the professionals. Nevertheless, at least improved things after yesterday’s shooting session and some sight adjustments, to elevation mostly, windage is “good enough.” That’s with the HW95’s fixed sights at 25 yards. No complaints, fun was had by all. And “Holey Smokes” likes the Crosman HP 14.3 grain pellets which is a pleasant surprise.

    Much health and life quality to you and the readership, B.B. Have a couple of good friends and some family going through some tough medical events right now. Hope they will overcome their difficulties as you did yours.

    • FM

      It is quite fortunate that our livelihood doesn’t depend on our shooting or I would weigh a lot less. On the other hand,, maybe that would be better. I haven’t decided on whether or not to make the effort to compete in this event, as my present shooting range is about 20 yards and it can’t be lengthened.

      I hope you family member/s recover from whatever issues they are having. They will be in my thoughts,

      Ed

      • Much appreciated; some have had similar experiences to B.B.’s in that medical interventions, instead of helping, almost put them on the Eternity Express. A good friend in MI is still experiencing the aftereffects of a botched “routine medical procedure” about 5 years ago. A lot of the alleged experts forget the “first, do no harm” dictum. Applies to just about all life activities, including air gunnery and medicine.

        As for the shooting, as long as the challenges are joyful and motivating, it is all good…of course, it is more satisfying when you hit the target. 😉 At least FM seems capable of achieving MOS (Minute Of Squirrel) at 25 yards with the HW95.

  9. Shot my best 10 shot group 2 nights ago with my HW30s and Air Arms Diabolo Field 8.44gr. From 10 meters, 0.018″ But I already have a Snappy Target, so I am not buying the card to enter. (This group would not qualify anyway per the rules) I like the contest though!

    Off Topic: Who are some go to options to repair a 1939 Crosman 102 clickless? I put all new seals in it but I can not get it to produce air, so my neophyte airgun rebuilding skills are clearly lacking. I am near Tulsa, OK.

    • Bob,

      If you bring it to the Texas Airgun Show on Saturday, Sep 24 I bet you’ll find someone to help. Heck, reader Cloud9 is a pneumatic repair guy and he runs the show.

      BB

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