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Ammo BB’s new USFT rifle: Part 3

BB’s new USFT rifle: Part 3

USFT
BB’s USFT rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Strange results?
  • The test
  • Scope failed
  • First pellet test
  • Second pellet test
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head
  • JSB Exact 8.44 grains
  • Last test
  • Labradar
  • Summary

Today we conduct the second velocity test of the USFT rifle we have been examining, to refine what we know about its power curve as the valve is now adjusted. And, because of the strange results I am about to share, I will present the accuracy portion of today’s test in tomorrow’s report.

Strange results?

Yes, strange results. So strange, in fact, that, had I not witnessed them as they happened, I wouldn’t have believed them. Had it been just one thing — velocity, for instance, I wouldn’t have been so surprised. But it was both velocity and accuracy and they happened with the same pellet at the same time. So it wan’t a quirky mistake. It was real and something I had never seen.

I also learned some new things about the Labradar chronograph, so I have that to report, as well. Let’s get started.

The test

I learned in Part 2 where the optimum fill pressure both started and stopped. I got 59 shots that were only 21 f.p.s. apart in their velocity, so for today’s test I decided to shoot 50 shots on a full fill. I started with the pellet that was used for all of Part 2 — the JSB Exact Heavy — but I shot three other pellets and then finished with the same Part 2 test pellet. I shot 10-shot groups with every pellet except for the first one. That one I shot ten times in the beginning and ten at the end, for a total of 20.

I filled to the fat side of 1,500 psi that we learned in Part 2 was the start of the power curve. And I stopped after shot 50.

As I filled I discovered that the pressure gauge on the USFT has a larger dial than the gauge on my carbon fiber tank. That makes it easier to read. And we learned in Part 2 that it agrees with my tank’s gauge. So I watched it as the gun was filled.

Scope failed

Right off the bat I had a problem. The 20-year-old UTG 8-32X56 SWAT scope that was mounted on the USFT refused to allow for parallax adjustment. It had been adjusted for the test in Part 2 so I could see the bullseye, but I couldn’t refine the focus that was a little off. The adjustment knob is frozen in place. I had a difficult time seeing the 10-dot in the center of the 10-meter rifle target. I finished the test with that scope and I’ll show you the groups tomorrow, but that scope is done and will be removed from the rifle after this test. It’s probably been on 30 different rifles in all the time I have owned it, so I have gotten good use out of it.

First pellet test

I started the test with JSB Exact Heavy pellets. I see a faded sticker on the back of the tin that says this pellet has a 4.53mm head. In Part 2 this pellet shot between a low of 881 and a high of 902 f.p.s. There were several shots within the power curve that I said were anomalous, either because they were so far outside the velocities of the rest of the shots within the power curve as to. And one shot was recorded as going faster farther away from the chronograph than it was at the muzzle — a physical impossibility for a ballistic missile. Today I may have some insight as to why those anomalous shots happened.

Let me show you the first 10 shots and then we’ll discuss them.

Shot……….Velocity
1……………….913
2……………….907
3……………….907
4……………….902
5……………….900
6……………….907
7……………….905
8……………….906
9……………….904
10……………..906

The fastest shot in Part 2 with this JSB pellet was 902 f.p.s. And every one of the 144 shots in that test were taken with this same pellet. So what we have here is a small increase in velocity. Remember those anomalous shots in Part 2? I now think they could have been caused by the rifle’s valve not having been operated in a very long time. What I’m suggesting is the USFT valve may be “waking up”. We will watch it carefully for more evidence of that.

Build a Custom Airgun

Second pellet test

The next ten shots were taken with the H&N Field Target dome (a different pellet than the Field Target Trophy). This one has a 4.50mm head. Let’s look at the velocities and then I will discuss them.

Shot……….Velocity
1……………….845
2……………….635
3……………….780
4……………….706
5……………….879
6……………….797

What happened? Well, first of all, four shots in this 10-shot string failed to register on the chronograph. It was one shot towards the start of the string and the final three shots. I’m not sure why it happened and none of the other pellets dropped a single shot. I did notice that the chronograph may not have been pointing at the target downrange, but not in the way you may think. I checked the left and right and found it to be pointed at the target spot-on, but the front of the chrono may have been pointed slightly downward. That could have affected whether its signals were reflecting straight back at the chronograph’s receiver. The offset angle was small, but it’s the only thing I noticed that could have been wrong.

Next — since the H&N Field Target dome weighs 8.49 grains I expected it to shoot faster than the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy that we just saw. But it shot slower — a LOT slower! In fact it was up to 278 f.p.s. slower — depending on which shot you look at!

The last thing comes tomorrow, but suffice to say this pellet was not nearly as accurate as the other three pellets in this test. I have never had much luck with the Field Target pellets in the H&N line, but GOLLY!

This is the thing I mentioned at the start of today’s report. I don’t think this USFT rifle likes the H&N Field Target pellet very much!

After this test I checked the alignment of the Labradar with the target every time, both side to side and also up and down. It was spot on, and I do that anyway for all strings as a matter of course. I think the unit just doesn’t like this particular pellet.

H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head

Next to be tested was the H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head. Something screwy happened with this part of the test, though the pellet was not a part of it. The first “shot” was recorded as going out at 615 f.p.s. Only there was no shot!

The Labradar requires a microphone to detect the report of an airgun shot. That is what starts the chronograph looking for the radar return. I bumped the microphone with the muzzle of the barrel and got this result. After that I was very careful not to touch the microphone with anything! Now let’s see the real string.

Shot……….Velocity
1……………….881
2……………….884
3……………….881
4……………….875
5……………….888
6……………….882
7……………….882
8……………….887
9……………….880
10……………..880

That looks a lot better. The Baracuda Match weighs a bit more than the JSB Heavy — 10.65 grains compared to 10.34 grains. So I expected this pellet to go a little slower than the JSB Heavy and it did. We seemed to be back on track.

JSB Exact 8.44 grains

I tried the JSB Exact 8.44-grain pellet because it is so accurate in many other air rifles and also because I wanted to see whether a lighter pellet might be more accurate. Here are the results.

Shot……….Velocity
1……………….953
2……………….955
3……………….951
4……………….953
5……………….952
6……………….949
7……………….948
8……………….948
9……………….945
10……………..945

Okay, this pellet performed exactly as expected, velocity-wise. That means that of the four pellets tested only the H&N Field Target domes were whacko, with four failing even to trigger the chronograph. What the reason for that may be I have no idea beyond what I have said.

Last test

For the final test I switched back to the initial pellet — the JSB Exact Heavy. The initial average for the first string today was 905 f.p.s. Let’s now see what shots 41 through 50 with the same pellet do.

Shot……….Velocity
1……………….909
2……………….894
3……………….898
4……………….895
5……………….895
6……………….901
7……………….898
8……………….890
9……………….889
10……………..891

The average for this string is 896 f.p.s. The slowest shot in this string went out at 889 f.p.s. and the fastest shot in the first string went out at 913 f.p.s. so the difference for this pellet across the 50 shots I fired today is 24 f.p.s. In Part 2 we saw 59 shots with a 21 f.p.s. difference. We are now homing in on the performance of this USFT air rifle as the valve is currently adjusted. Don’t forget — we can adjust the valve in this rifle!

Labradar

I’m learning that the Labradar chronograph has a sensitive microphone that will trigger a false reading when touched while the chronograph is armed. Firearms are loud enough to trigger the chronograph without any microphone; it’s just there for airguns. I’m also going to pay closer attention to the elevation of the front of the chronograph in the future. 

Summary

I will end things here, but the accuracy test is so much of the USFT performance that I’ll report it tomorrow. If you have taken the time to read what has been done today you should now have a much better understanding of how to test a precharged pneumatic air rifle.

48 thoughts on “BB’s new USFT rifle: Part 3”

  1. Tom,

    I wonder how long this rifle had lying dormant waiting to be shot? It might become a rule of thumb to shoot PCP airguns at least 100 rounds with suitable application of silicone oil before subjecting then for testing. Whatever did happen to Wacky Wayne?

    Siraniko

    PS. Section: H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head 1st paragraph 2nd sentence: “Something screwy happened with this pert (part) of the test, though the pellet was not a part of it.

  2. I myself have not had much luck with the H&N Field Target pellet myself, except in one particular air rifle. For some strange reason my .22 Webley/Hatsan Tomahawk likes them. No other airgun I have tried them in likes them.

    I have an oooold Leapers/UTG 3-12×44 Compact SWAT that was made back before they installed lights in them. Fortunately, it is still going strong despite having been mounted on some fairly powerful sproingers.

    I had a Hawke Varmint 2-10×44 SF on the Talon SS I just purchased at the latest NC show. It would not focus beyond 50 yards, even though the knob said infinity. Hawke has a lifetime warranty, so I sent it back. As this model is no longer made, they sent me a brand new Vantage 3-12×44 SF. They have my scope business from now on.

    Does not Leapers/UTG have a lifetime warranty?

    Strange results?
    So it wan’t (wasn’t or warn’t) a quirky mistake.
    The first one is “proper” English and the second is Appalachian American.

  3. *** it was both velocity and accuracy and they happened with the same pellet at the same time. So it wan’t a quirky mistake. It was real and something I had never seen. ***

    BB,

    I call that a “HUH?” shot – the sight picture was good; the break clean and HUH? – why did that pellet hit over there? 😉

    “HUH shots” fliers are one of the reasons I setup the LabrRadar when bench shooting. With my Orange Stenographer taking notes, I can check to see if a velocity glitch is evolved in the unexpected change in POI.

    Changes in velocities will affect the vertical POI to a degree but I think that it’s the change in harmonics that opens up the groups.

    I’d guess that a lot of “fliers” are caused by pellets that are “bent” ( either during manufacturing or by being canted during loading ) such that the axis of head and the skirt are out of alignment. Ditto for slugs that are mis-loaded with the axis of the slug out of alignment with the bore.

    Hank

    • Hank

      “ I’d guess that a lot of “fliers” are caused by pellets that are “bent” ( either during manufacturing or by being canted during loading ) such that the axis of head and the skirt are out of alignment. Ditto for slugs that are mis-loaded with the axis of the slug out of alignment with the bore.”

      You are not just writing about bent skirts which are easy to spot. Is there a practical way to test for pellet bend or canting? Fliers are the cause of my dadgummits. Any help avoiding that one shot of ten that expands a group size by 50% is appreciated.

      Thanks in advance.

      Deck

      • Deck,

        A misshapen skirt could affect the aerodynamics of the pellet but being behind the head and inside of the “airflow envelope” I don’t know how much influence it could have. Maybe shootski could chime in on that.

        Depending on the softness of the pellet (pure lead or an alloy), the thickness of the skirt and the power of the airgun, I suspect that a pellet would have to be severely mangled before it couldn’t be blown back into shape to fit the bore.

        That being said, for serious shooting I’ll cull out the damaged pellets and use them for plinking, seasoning the barrel or melting into slingshot pellets and fishing sinkers 🙂

        The only way I know of to check for bent pellets is to roll them down an incline. The head of the pellet is often smaller than the skirt so the pellets will roll in an arc.

        My current pellet sorting is done with a Pelletgage and jewelers scale. I’ve been thinking of making a “pellet rolling fixture” that would hold the pellet 90 degrees to the slope, release it cleanly/consistently and catch it at the bottom. Still at the pondering stage, so sketching, layout and making are still a couple of weeks away.

        I’ve always suspected that wayward pellet impacts are caused by me glancing at the group rather that focusing on the center of the target. I’m always more accurate when shooting one pellet per target.

        Hank

          • Vana2 and Deck,

            The airflow around any projectile is a very large part of the ballistic performance. Think of the “only” things that change compared to shooting in a vacuum and it will be clear as MUD! Also as far as POI Dispersion yes Drag pattern is greatly influenced by any imperfections or variance of the surface.
            Since the projectile is typically rotating the initial outside the barrel applied Drag vector (External Ballistics) is a significant factor in POI dispersion size.
            The question on “FLYERS” is the Never Ending Story! Ten shot groups are better but just don’t think they eliminate the outliers (purported FLYERS) that would be found in a 10+n trial. Groups of any size only give POI containment ellipsis probabilities of some percentage which approaches 100% with large samples/Sets.
            The above is actually the NUT on degree of Precision projectile throwing system comparison.

            shootski

          • Hank & Shootski

            Thanks to you both. I’ve been concentrating on follow through to the extreme recently but haven’t noticed any difference. I don’t think I was looking up or moving because I have made it a habit to stay still. This is easier to do when shooting from a rest and also no time constraints. But something (Ms Murphy?) causes fliers. I think you are on to something.

            Deck

            • Deck,

              So many variables to try to control with each and every shot!
              What a horrible hobby…NOT!
              Just understand that most are insignificant in their contribution to enlarging the containment ellipsis. You just wrote about a big one, then there is HOLD, Breath control, trigger and the biggest of all when outside the WIND. I think it (wind) should really be refered to as turbulence in the flight medium since wind is so much a straightline mental image creator compared to what happens in an indoor shooting range. Although with our smaller projectiles turbulence indoors is still a not insignificant factor in POA/POI varience.
              When i kayak in the eddy lines and whirlpools it is mostly 2D turbulence when we shoot it is 3D and even more disruptive of our projectiles going to the POA often!
              I’ll let you know as soon as I figure out how to eliminate any of those.

              shootski

            • Deck,

              I find that when I try too hard that things go south in a hurry. Something must tighten up or cause a tremor, or a distraction that disrupts the shot.

              What works for me is to clear my mind of everything except this target, here and now, and allow muscle memory and previous experience make the fine adjustments and break the shot. If I relax and not interfere, groups are good.

              Chris USA used to call it “the ZEN of shooting”. Miss seeing him around.

              Hank

              • Hank

                Chris was one of my early enablers. I miss his comments and can only hope the best for him.

                I know about Zen, rarely, but experienced it in golf. Shots come off fine regardless of swing. Rare but go low when it happens! Yesterday I was struggling with the HW30S accuracy which never has an off day until then. In desperation I took the decent scope off, slapped on a make shift rear peep with bailing wire and tape, covered my left eye with left hand and began banging away pulling the trigger like I was shooting quail on a covey rise. The ten shot group at 25 yards measured .54 inches much to my happy surprise.

                Oh well, ain’t it fun though.

                Deck

        • Vana2,
          You seem to be describing the yrrah roller. Many people have built these and use them to help sort pellets. And they listen for any clicking during the roll which suggests deformation of the head or skirt.

        • I hate when the 10th shot goes wide. I joked here before that I should start putting 11 pellets in the lid of the tin and then NOT shoot the last pellet! I have a solution to that one flyer out of ten that spoils your group. Shoot 20 shot groups. Then, if you are down to only one shot that spoils a 20 shot group, FUGHEDABOUTIT. ;o) Seriously, if you consistently have a shot or two that “spoils” a group, either your other shots were lucky to be so close together or you are seeing the actual precision of the gun-ammo-shooter system. If you shoot a 20 shot group, you will see what I mean.

    • BB,
      I wonder if these strange behaviors are related to your current velocity testing setup and environment (aka. shooting in the house with lots of things that can reflect radar energy)?

  4. B.B. and Readership,

    WOW!
    The velocity “groups” really have opened the SPECULATION door!
    Without seeing all the LabRadar downrange data along with the resulting POI that charge will stick for now. I do have a question or two for you Tom:
    Bumping the airgun microphone will likely trigger the LabRadar as you surmised. My question, however, is about this:
    “There were several shots within the power curve that I said were anomalous, either because they were so far outside the velocities of the rest of the shots within the power curve as to.

    (What? Raise a question about the probable cause?)

    And one shot was recorded as going faster farther away from the chronograph than it was at the muzzle — a physical impossibility for a ballistic missile. Today I may have some insight as to why those anomalous shots happened.”

    The faster subsequent velocity down range is interesting! It is not however impossible; it could have been a speck of Lead or droplet of Lubricant that the RADAR detected rather than the pellet! Time of Return is a RADAR bias. Or even some other external object accelerated by the muzzle blast.
    On a regular Optical Chronograph the Yaw axis is critical on a Doppler RADAR the Pitch, Roll, and Yaw are all equally important given the beam/lobe pattern.
    If the LabRadar gave you a velocity reading (or several) after the microphone bump that bears investigating. You could also use the settings and not have the unit trigger on sound but rather on initially detecting with RADAR beam an object.

    This is all SPECULATION given that it is remote kibitzing as opposed to direct observation. I hope it gives you some things to look out for on your next LabRadar session.

    Final Kibitz:
    “I now think they could have been caused by the rifle’s valve not having been operated in a very long time.”
    It might also just be the Hammer needing the lubrication to move around or to get rid of surface contact micro corrosion.

    shootski

  5. You might use your fancy caliper to check the head and skirt diameters of the pellets you shot. I’d bet the Field Target Domes were exceptionally small and thus allowed air to pass by them resulting in low muzzle velocities. If the case of the higher speed downrange occurred with these pellets, then it could be due to the air passing by the pellet moving foreign matter or a piece of the original pellet in front of the pellet and LabRadar picking up the fragment downrange and the main pellet at the muzzle, as shootski mentioned.

  6. Good morning BB

    I am in need of a good knife sharpener. I once read a blog that you wrote about the Warthog V knife sharpener. Would you still recommend this thing, or do you think there are better products on the market now for the money?

    I hope you and the kitties are well.

    • Slinging Lead,

      No I would not recommend the Warthog. They changed the design and it doesn’t work nearly as well.

      I use diamond stones that I bought at Harbor Freight (Chinese, sorry RR). They cost $10 for three grades

      BB

    • Lead-

      A dead flat piece of glass, tile or stone (a piece of granite countertop works great), some 3M spray adhesive, and a few sheets of aluminum oxide sandpaper in 120 grit, 220 grit, 400 grit, and 800 grit will let you put a near-shaving edge on a butter knife. $10-15 will get you sharpening if you can find the glass or tile.
      And if you decide to take it shaving sharp add 1500 and 3000 grit.

  7. Vana2,

    Hank is that an actual AT scale pellet or a larger scale representation? Also, it looks like it is static and not a spinning pellet which would radically change those smoke trails. It does however show turbulence in the pellet waist which might not be shaped as in the image after a few inches of barrel travel especially with a thin skirt and powerful powerplant. One other item missing are the Land and Groove engravings on the head and skirt.
    So much happens to those lovingly inspected, weighed, and sorted pellets From Breech to Target!
    I know, I know, I’m a real stinker about this topic!

    shootski

    • Sorry shootski,

      I just grabbed the first image I saw that showed what I was trying to describe. Didn’t go to the site to look at the details.

      And, as you point out, the devil is in the details. Subsonic, trans-sonic and supersonic airflow is a very interesting subject 🙂

      Hank

      • Vana2,

        No need to apologize to me. We are, hopefully, all hear to share what we have found and maybe learn a little along the way.
        The airgun game is changing and it is great fun to see it all unfold!

        shootski

  8. BB. Ésta es mi primer respuesta en tu blog por parte mía. Soy un lector activo desde hace más de una década y la información que he encontrado en la lectura me ha funcionado. Quizá ésto te pueda ayudar basado en mi experiencia.
    He trabajado por más de 15 años en el sector de comunicaciones, y el problema que te genera el radar, es posible a la refracción generada por objetos sólidos, cuando practicas tiro dentro de casa. Lo mismo me ha sucedido con el radar de FX, me regresa una doble lectura con varios FPS de diferencia.

    BB. This is my first response on your blog from me. I have been an active reader for over a decade and the information I have found in reading has worked for me. Maybe this can help you based on my experience.
    I have worked for more than 15 years in the communications sector, and the problem that radar generates for you is possible due to the refraction generated by solid objects, when you practice shooting indoors. The same has happened to me with the FX radar, it returns a double reading with several FPS difference.

    • ISCC,

      Welcome to the blog.

      My question remains, why would only one out of four pellets read bad, and ALSO shoot poorly? It only makes sense if that pellet is bad in this rifle.

      BB

      • B.B.,

        I think you have found the answer to your own question, your rifle does not like those pellets, also those pellets do not like your rifle. Nice shooting with the other pellets.

        Mike

  9. A microphone “hack” I’ve used with great success with my LabRadar is to form a loop with the mic cord and gently attach the alligator clip onto it. I then hang that near the end of the barrel and that seems to eliminate phantom/missed shots. As much as I hate to have anything touching the barrel during accuracy work, it seems to do the job reliably. Love the blog B.B.!

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