AirForce Texan: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

AirForce Texan big bore.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Mr. Hollowpoint
  • The test
  • Two important things
  • Bullet seating
  • Shot count
  • 255-grain bullet target 2
  • 300-grain bullet group 1
  • 300-grain group 2
  • 350-grain bullet
  • 365-grain bullet 
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I finally report on my AirForce Texan .458 that we looked at last in September. Some reader asked me to try different commercial bullets in my rifle, and while I was talking to Ton Jones at AirForce he said they really like the bullets Mr. Hollowpoint, Robert Vogel, makes. So I contacted him and ordered a selection of bullets to test.

Mr. Hollowpoint

Robert was on a hog hunt when I contacted him, but when he returned we communicated and he generously sent me a sampling of some of his .45 caliber bullets. I asked for them to be sized .459, because my Texan’s bore is .458. He said he understood and would try his best to satisfy my needs. read more

Reloading firearm cartridges: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Design an Airgun
  • Godfather’s Gold Gun giveaway
  • Reload a cartridge
  • Types of cartridges
  • Rimmed and rimless cartridges
  • Resize and deprime
  • Bell the case mouth
  • Prime each case
  • Put powder in the case
  • Powder measure
  • Insert the bullet
  • Summary

Design an Airgun

Just a reminder — the Design an Airgun contest ends on this Friday, October 16. The winner will be the niftiest design that most people can build. The winner will receive the American Zimmerstutzen as a prize. I have to limit the contest to residents of the United States because of international shipping laws but readers from other countries are welcome to show us their designs.

American Zimmerstutzen
The winner of the Design an Airgun contest will win the American Zimmerstutzen.

Godfather’s Gold Gun giveaway

Don’t forget that some lucky U.S. reader this month will also be drawn to receive the Godfather’s Gold Gun — an Ataman AP16 pistol designed by B.B. Pelletier. So, there is a lot going on this month! read more

Big Bore airgun calibers

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • The greater problem
  • The beginning
  • Bullets — not pellets
  • .308 caliber
  • Bore size
  • .357 caliber
  • Black powder
  • The .45 caliber dilemma
  • Shoot soft lead bullets that are slightly larger
  • Other big bore calibers
  • Summary

Most shooters are familiar with the smallbore airgun calibers of .177, .20, .22 and .25. Even shooters who don’t consider themselves to be airgunners know at least the .177 and .22 calibers. But in recent years there has been an explosion of big bore airgun calibers, and I am seeing that many shooters have little knowledge about them. If that were the only problem it would fix itself, because over time people always learn.

The greater problem

The bigger problem are the airgun manufacturers that do not know much, if anything, about the larger calibers. This report will address the lesser-known truths about big bore airgun calibers. read more

Oh, Yes — I’m the Great Enabler!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Wants what he wants
  • So why?
  • What happens when a gun doesn’t live up to the hype?
  • Not-so-expensive
  • Don’t put words into my mouth
  • How to read me

Yesterday my brother-in-law, Bob, called me on his way home from buying groceries and told me that yesterday ‘s blog about the Umarex Fusion 2 had convinced him to buy one. He told me I am the Great Enabler.

Wants what he wants

I thought about that. Bob is an airgunner very much like many of you. He doesn’t want just one more airgun, but if he sees a good enough reason to own one, he will spring for it. Like many of you Bob loves to shoot. He shoots firearms almost every week and years ago I coached him into reloading, both to keep the cost of ammunition down and also to have ammo that more flexibly meets his needs. Reloading gives you the control you need over your ammo — both to make it as close to perfect as possible for your guns and also to ensure a supply in those times (like now) when it isn’t generally available. Airguns are like that in many ways. read more

The importance of bullet-to-barrel alignment and fit: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Balls
  • Patched balls
  • Results of patching
  • Conical lead bullets
  • Pellet head
  • An experiment
  • Pellet skirt
  • Summary
  • read more

    The TexanSS: Part 5

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    TexanSS big bore air rifle from AirForce.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4

    This report covers:

    • First comments
    • Bubble Leveler
    • Collar Buttons are a no-go at 100 yards
    • 210 SWC is still a great bullet
    • Balle-Blondeau-talk
    • Balle-patent
    • Balle Blondeau
    • 355-grain flat point dogbone
    • Ton shoots at 100 yards
    • One more test

    I had the Umarex Gauntlet out to shoot at 50 yards last week but the day was just too windy. Once I got it sighted-in for 50 yards the wind picked up and blew the pellets all around. I wanted this test to be a good one between the magazine and the single-shot tray, and it wasn’t going to happed this day. So I brought out the TexanSS that has no difficulty shooting in the wind.

    Today I will show you how the AirForce TexanSS big bore performs at 100 yards. I have spent several days at the range to get today’s results. That’s why it took me so long.

    First comments

    I will first tell you that the TexanSS is a very well-developed air rifle. The gun shoots a wide range of bullet weights, as long as the bullet diameters are 0.457 or 0.458-inches. There are a lot of .45 caliber bullets out there that aren’t those sizes and you shouldn’t waste your time with them.

    The trigger works well. It’s not adjustable but it’s as fine a trigger (both light and crisp) as I have seen on any big bore. The power adjuster works well, though the SS needs it to be set around the 3/4-power level or higher. It’s more sensitive to adjustment than the Texan, which I guess is due to the shorter barrel. I will also tell you that although this SS is not silent, it is remarkably quiet for a big bore rifle of this power (up to 400 foot pounds).

    Bubble Leveler

    As I mentioned in Part 4 I installed the 4-16X56 UTG Bubble Leveler scope on the rifle. I put the bubble in the center of the vertical crosshair for every shot, knowing I am removing all scope cant from the equation. If that doesn’t mean much to you read this report. At $225, there isn’t a scope on the market that can match the optical clarity and quality of this one — and that’s without the bubble!

    Collar Buttons are a no-go at 100 yards

    First I will tell you that the collar button and short dumbbell bullets that did so well at 50 yards did not hold up at 100. That was one whole day at the range. I hoped they would astound us, after seeing them perform at 50 yards. But they opened dramatically and gave groups of 7-10 inches.

    210 SWC is still a great bullet

    Next I tried the Tin Starr 210-grain semi-wadcutter that did so well in the Texan. These did well at 50 yards in the TexanSS. They also performed well at 100. Knowing that the first two shots after the fill were the best, I shot one bullet, then refilled and shot two more. After those two I refilled again and fired the final two bullets. All five bullets were shot on the first or second shots after a fill. After a careful sight-in the first five shots for record went into 2.704-inches at 100 yards. Any one of them would have taken a deer-sized animal.

    210 grain bullet in TexanSS
    The first five 210-grain semi-wadcutters went into 2.704-inches at 100 yards.

    After seeing those shots I adjusted the scope again and fired five more. These were also fired as one shot then a fill and two more and another fill and the last two. These landed higher and are more centered on the bull but not quite as tight, at 3.215-inches between centers. Once again, five killing shots.

    210 grain bullet in TexanSS 2
    The second five 210-grain semi-wadcutters went into 3.215-inches at 100 yards.

    Because I was testing, I did not spend the time to fine-tune the adjustment wheel. It worked well enough at 50 yards with this bullet and I had a lot of testing left to do, so I left it where it was. Undoubtedly if this was the only bullet I shot in this rifle, the power could be fine-tuned for just it.


    Johnny Hill of Tin Starr Bullets (817-594-8511) has been working with me throughout the Texan and TexanSS tests. He is the one who suggested the 210-grain SWC that is so accurate. Well, I discussed the Balle Blondeau-style shotgun slug of the 1960s with him and he liked it.

    Balle patent
    The Balle Blondeau shotgun slug revolutionized the world of shotgun hunting in the 1960s. It can do the same thing for big bore airguns today.

    Balle Blondeau
    The Balle Blondeau shotgun slug flies straight and true over long distances, due to high drag on its tail. read more

    The TexanSS: Part 4

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    TexanSS big bore air rifle from AirForce.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3

    This report covers:

    • Sight-in
    • The test
    • Tin Starr 210-grain semiwadcutter
    • Tin Starr 310 grain flat point
    • Hunter’s Supply 250-grain hollowpoint
    • Something different
    • Hollow base first
    • Hollowpoint first
    • Last bullet — the flying dumbbell
    • What’s next?
    • Summary

    Today I will shoot the AirForce TexanSS at 50 yards for accuracy. In Part 3 we learned about the bullet tuner on the left side of the rifle. We saw that the .45 caliber Texan SS has a narrower range of adjustment than the .45 Texan I tested for you several years ago. The results of that test set us up for today’s accuracy test.


    I scoped the rifle with the 4-16X56 UTG Bubble Leveler scope. The scope sits high above the bore line of the rifle, but the bubble level inside guarantees the rifle will not be canted when it fires.

    I first sighted-in at 20 yards. I used the first bullet that I planned testing, and didn’t change the scope setting for the rest of the test. It took 5 shots at this distance to get the bullet where I wanted it — in the center of the bull.

    The test

    I will be shooting 5-shot groups with 5 different bullets — one of them two times for a reason I will explain when we get to it. Because of that, I left the bullet tuner set just slightly above the 3/4 mark for the entire test. If any bullet or bullets show promise, I can always refine the setting just for them, but that will have to come on another day.

    I shot off the MOA shooting bench that I bought at the SHOT Show. The more I use this bench the more I like it. The rifle was rested on a long sandbag that made it steady for each shot.

    The wind was blowing 5-7 mph during the test, with gusts to 20 mph. I waited until the gusts died down for each shot. These were the same conditions under which the Hatsan Hercules .45 caliber big bore air rifle was tested a week ago. Let’s get started.

    Tin Starr 210-grain semiwadcutter

    The first bullet tested was the 210-grain semi-wadcutter from Tin Starr bullets that tested best with the Texan. Though the SS barrel is shorter, I think the rifling twist is the same as is found in the Texan barrel, and this is a bullet of known accuracy.

    From the velocity test we just did, I knew there were 3 shots that were close in velocity were possible, so I shot 3 times then refilled the rifle for the last two bullets. Five bullets made a vertical group measuring 2.232-inches between centers. Three of those bullets landed in 0.535-inches, and they are between the other two shots. That tells me this bullet is very accurate in the SS, though I probably need to tweak the bullet tuner a little.

    TexanSS 210 SWC group
    Five 210-grain Tin Starr semi-wadcutter bullets made this 2.232-inch group at 50 yards, with three bullets landing in 0.535-inches.

    The group set me at ease, because no matter what else happened, I now had a good bullet for the SS. That bullet would be good for game up to whitetail deer-size. I’m limiting it to those animals weighing 150 lbs. and at a distance of less than 150 yards. A semi-wadcutter bullet slows down in flight faster than a round-nose bullet.

    A big bore bullet kills game through loss of blood — not shock. The foot pounds of energy on target don’t make much difference, as long as they are sufficient for the bullet to penetrate the game. This bullet will go completely through a whitetail deer that’s hit sideways in a classic heart/lung shot up to 100 yards, as long as a major bone is not hit. It will break a shoulder bone.

    Tin Starr 310 grain flat point

    Next up was the Tin Starr 310-grain flat point bullet. This one is much heavier for greater penetration. This would be a bullet to use on mule deer or even the larger red deer that are called Hirsch in Germany. Of course it goes slower than the previous bullet, so let’s see where it hits the target with the same scope setting.

    This bullet impacted about 2 inches below the first one. It was still centered on the bull, though. That’s a good thing, because it means you can have two good bullets for distances under 100 yards. I shot three bullets on the fill, then refilled and shot the last two.

    Five bullets made a 1.681-inch group at 50 yards. That’s plenty good for hunting out to 100 yards, though with this bullet you will need to see where it lands at that distance. Remember, this test is a 50 yards.

    TexanSS 310 flat point group
    Five Tin Starr 310-grain flat point bullets made this 1.681-inch group at 50 yards.

    Hunter’s Supply 250-grain hollowpoint

    Next I tried a 250-grain hollowpoint bullet that was provided to me by AirForce. This is a bullet they recommend for their Texan and TexanSS. Five went into 2.48 inches at 50 yards, and the group is still fairly well-centered in and around the bull. Once again, I shot three bullets, then refilled for the last two.

    TexanSS 250 hollowpoint group
    Five 250-grain hollowpoints from Hunter’s Supply landed in 2.48 inches between centers at 50 yards.

    Something different

    Now let’s leave the world of conventional bullets and look at two experiments that were conducted by Tin Starr Bullets. The first is a design that was suggested by AirForce. Nobody knew how it would turn out, which is why we test. This may be the first time this experimental big bore bullet has been seen, and without a doubt it is the first time it’s been tested in the TexanSS.

    The bullet is a deep hollow-base or hollowpoint configuration, depending on how it’s loaded. This is the bullet I alluded to at the start of the test. I tested it both ways, and in a moment we will see how that went.

    The bullet is extremely light — 137 grains. Even a .45 caliber round ball weighs 143 grains, so you know that this one is very light!

    Tin Starr made a prototype mold to cast this bullet for a proof-of-concept test. It wasn’t made on a production mold that would cost much more to make. However, if there is any merit, it should be evident with the test bullets. Then they can decide to invest in a production mold.

    Finally — and this holds true for every Tin Starr bullet seen in this report — these bullets are made from lead that is as pure as can be. Pure lead is very soft and takes the rifling easily with low friction. But it doesn’t cast well. Add tin or antimony to get bullets that fill the mold better and look both sharper and cleaner. Tin costs many times what lead costs, so that’s out. Antimony hardens the lead alloy too much. Bullets cast with it may look better but they shoot worse, until you get the velocity up over 1,500 f.p.s., which no big bore air rifle can do. Hard lead bullets also smear inside of the bore, causing early leading.

    TexanSS Tin Starr prototype hollowpoint
    This Tin Starr prototype bullet is either a hollowpoint or a hollow base — depending on how it’s loaded.

    Hollow base first

    The first target was shot with the hollow positioned at the base. Two were fired on a fill, then the rifle was refilled and the last three were fired. They landed in a group that measures 3.818-inches between centers. Even though this group is larger, they are still centered on the bull.

    One thing I did not notice until writing this report is that three of the five bullets tumbled in flight! The hole at the extreme right shows the side profile of a bullet. The highest hole looks like two bullets went through, so the bullet was tipped on an angle, and the one in the X-ring is nearly sideways.

    TexanSS Tin Starr prototype hollowpoint group
    Five bullets shot loaded with the hollow in the base are in a group measuring 3.818-inches between centers at 50 yards. Three have tumbled.

    Hollowpoint first

    Next I loaded five of the same bullet with the hollow point first. These made a group measuring 4.095-inches between centers. This group also drifted a little to the right at 50 yards. Of all the bullets shot, it was the only one that went sideways a little. I shot all 5 rounds on a single fill of air, because they are so lightweight. If they had proven accurate, more testing with different parameters would have been indicated.

    TexanSS Tin Starr prototype hollowpoint group
    Loaded hollow point first the same Tin Starr prototype bullet went into 4.095-inches at 50 yards. These seem to have flown straight — more or less. read more