This report covers:
- Back to BB
- First test — break in
- The FIRST R1?
- The second R1
- Lube tune
- Summary 1
- TX200 MarkIII
- BSF S55 and S70
- Cheap springers
- Summary 2
Today we are going to talk about a topic you readers know more about than I do. What is/are the tendency/s of certain airguns, as they break in? I think I need to explain that.
Reader Tomek commented on the Gamo Hunter Extreme accuracy test yesterday. He said —
“To be honest I expected this rifle to be not so accurate, even terrible. It is not so bad.”
“What is your experience with magnum springers? Do they kick more in .177cal or in .22cal? Is there a tendency like this at all?”
“General thoughts generated after reading this blog: actually, almost all springers need to break in first. After that they are usually more polite. This means most of the testing out of the box does not reflect the actual performance. I mean not only some cheap equipment needs time to get to the nominal working point. Example – HW30s will be smoother after 500 shots out of the box and this impression is much better than directly out of the box. I do not mention buzz noise etc. So sad it is – without tuning almost all springers have buzz or some additional vibration issues. Anyway, the trigger like Rekord does not really changes – but many will be completely different after 2k shots.”
“FWB300s after tuning (including the piston steel ring change) needed approx. 1000 shots to get stable velocity and the high end of the shot cycle performance. I mean, there can’t be better. I can imagine that the brand new one (which is acutally the case now) also needed so long to be stable. It does not directly reflects the accuracy in 10m distance but you can feel the difference.”
My feeling is the high end equipment needs more time to be stable and it will stay stable for life then. Cheap stuff usually is good after 100 – 300 shots.”
Back to BB
Let’s talk about that. You mentioned springers and that is what I will talk about today. As far as the difference in recoil between .177 and .22, I have no experience with that. But I do have experience with new spring-piston airguns.
Years ago I wrote a book titled The Beeman R1 Supermagnum Air Rifle. I wrote that book because I had written so many reports about it in my Airgun Letter newsletter. There were nine of them in the newsletter and in the book they became the R1 Homebrew section that is the bulk of the book. Many were centered on breaking in a new R1 and on tuning the R1 (HW 80) to be a smoother and better (easier cocking, more accurate) shooter.
The R1 book.
First test — break in
Okay, Tomek, here is part of your answer. I tested the first R1 by shooting a thousand shots and testing velocity at the start and then after 200, 500 and finally 1,000 shots had been fired.
The FIRST R1?
At the end of the thousand shots the first R1 had broken one of the two tabs on the spring tube that the forearm screws attach to. I sent it back to Beeman for repairs, which they did, but out of courtesy they lube-tuned it before sending it back. Obviously all the factory grease had to be removed before welding the tab back on the spring tube, but the lube tune they did included de-burring the rifle. That was something I wanted to avoid because of my test. I called them and explained what I was doing and they actually sent me a new replacement rifle! That’s service!
The second R1
The performance of the second R1 was remarkably similar to the first — enough so that I can now comment on how a high-end spring-piston air rifle breaks in. In the first 20 shots there is some detonation and the velocities of all pellets are faster. The cocking effort was insanely high for an R1 — something like 48-49 pounds.
After 500 shots are fired the velocity had dropped for all pellets, and that was true on both airguns. The cocking effort was still quite high.
After 1,000 shots the first rifle was shooting all pellets slower than it had at 500 shots, but the second rifle was shooting them all slightly faster. The cocking effort for both rifles dropped to less than 45 pounds by this point, and I attribute that to the parts on both rifles wearing in.
I then did a standard (for the 1994 timeframe) lube tune. That would be de-burring, putting moly grease on the moving parts and Mainspring Dampening Compound on the mainspring. The velocity dropped by over 40 f.p.s. (RWS Hobbys dropped from 847 f.p.s. to 805 f.p.s.) and the cocking effort decreased to 39 pounds.
After that I did several other tunes that came in kits. The most dramatic was the Mag 80 Laza kit from the UK that was made and sold by Ivan Hancock. His parts pushed the cocking effort back over 50 pounds, but the velocity of the RWS Hobby pellet went up to 892 f.p.s. And the vibration? There was none! Zip! Nada! This tune was the smoothest I had ever shot until experiencing the 22 mm tune kit from Tony Leach for the TX200 Mark III.
Since then I had David Enoch’s brother, Bryan, tune the R1 for me. In my opinion the R1 is really best in .22 caliber and Bryan’s tune is almost as smooth as the Mag 80 Laza tune I just described.
My experience with the Beeman R1 is that a quality spring gun gets a little faster after shooting it awhile and also becomes easier to cock. Now let’s look at a second premium springer.
TX200 Mark III
The TX200 Mark III from Air Arms comes to you from the factory shooting as smooth as a tuned air rifle. Yes, the 22mm tuning kit that Tony Leach sells does make it slightly smoother, but at the cost of a lot of power.
What I have learned from testing several TX200s (I used to own a Mark II, as well) is they always increase in power as they are shot. And not by just a little, either. I watched my Mark III TX increase by over 100 f.p.s. as it was shot. It didn’t get smoother, but it also didn’t become harsher, either.
BSF S55 and S70
I had a BSF S55N and two BSF S70s. None was new but all were untuned. The BSF S55 and S70 both increased in velocity with shooting and their triggers became both smoother and lighter. And I owned an S60 whose trigger also became smoother with use. In fact the BSF triggers became “smooth” to the point they were unsafe. I have a hole in the ceiling of my office to prove that.
Tomek, my experiences with shooting springers a lot primarily focuses on the air rifles I have mentioned. Several of those I’ve shot from new.
I did once shoot someone’s older Gamo breakbarrel that had 3,000 to 4,000 shots on it. That rifle cocked easily and shot smoothly and the trigger was quite smooth and positive.
I have almost no experience with inexpensive spring-piston rifles. I do test them for this blog, but I don’t spend the kind of time that it takes for a thorough break-in. Someone else will have to address that. Like I said at the start — you readers have more experience with this than I do.
Like all things mechanical, spring-piston airguns wear in with use. I have first-hand experience with the premium ones; I am assuming the less expensive ones are similar. If you ask me today I would say that is their tendency.