A little more power

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • HW 30S
  • The point
  • Which should I get — an HW 30S or a 50S?
  • My opinion
  • AirForce
  • OR —
  • Rebuttal
  • What is the big deal?
  • What to make
  • What about velocity?
  • Who doesn’t need speed?
  • A BB story to illustrate
  • Summary

Today I am exploring the topic of wanting a little more power from your airgun. Everything else can stay the same — you just want it to shoot a little faster.

HW 30S

I recently purchased an HW 30S to test for you. I had to buy it from a foreign dealer because Pyramyd Air no longer carries the 30S model. They do carry the Beeman R7 that is based on the 30S. Other than the stocks and the names on the gun the rifles are identical. The R7 Elite has a different stock that’s checkered, but it also sells for more money. But that’s not today’s point.

The point

The point is, I wanted to test and evaluate the kind of airgun that, in my opinion, is at the top of the heap, worldwide. And it is there for many reasons:

  • Rekord trigger
  • Great accuracy
  • Lightweight and easy to cock
  • Nice adjustable sights with interchangeable front inserts

But you know what the HW 30S is not? It’s not powerful. And that fact alone prevents many sales to “airgunners” who just have to have a little more power. The members of this blog who comment know better, but the wide world of airgunners is not in step with us. Some websites show velocities for the .177 model (yes, there is a .22) of up to 700 f.p.s. But a far more realistic figure is down around 625 f.p.s. Now, that is Diana 27 territory, and you know how I feel about that rifle! Is the HW 30S in the same category as the Diana 27? A lot of you feel that it is, and I wanted to test it, to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something good.

Which should I get — an HW 30S or a 50S?

I get asked this question several times a year. And I didn’t know how to answer it, because my exposure to the 30S is limited. I do know the older HW 50S, but the newer one that superseded it several years ago is another air rifle I’m not familiar with.

As it turns out, my old HW 55SF — an extremely rare and collectible target rifle in its own right — is based on the older HW 50S spring tube.  My rifle has been tuned many times by former owners and once by me and it currently shoots RWS Hobbys at an average 631 f.p.s. I can’t use that to say how fast an older HW 50S was supposed to shoot, but I do believe it was a little faster. I’m thinking somewhere in the low to mid 700’s.

The new HW 50S, however, is more powerful. The Pyramyd Air website shows the .177 at 820 f.p.s. And in their tests they saw one shoot a Hobby as fast as 849 f.p.s. With that there is now a definite separation in the velocity of the two air rifles. So — which one should you get?

My opinion

I haven’t tested either air rifle yet, so I shouldn’t have an opinion. But I do. It’s based on nothing further than my personal experience with Weihrauch and what I have read about these two air rifles. Get the 30S first and the 50S later, if money permits.

But like I said — I have never tested either air rifle. So what do I know? Let’s stay on topic but talk about something else.

AirForce

When I worked at AirForce here is a conversation I often heard. “I own a TalonSS. I like the accuracy and shot count, but can I get a little more power? What if I put in a stronger hammer spring and a heavier hammer? They guys on the Talon Forum say that’s the way to go.”

“Sure,” I tell them. “Go ahead and do that and then send me your basket case rifle and I will try to repair it for you. That’s what I’m doing for all those guys on the Talon Forum!”

OR —

Or, you can learn something about precharged pneumatic airguns and install a 24-inch barrel in place of the 12-inch barrel that came on the rifle. I did a test on that in Part 4 of A TalonSS precharged pneumatic air rifle, back in April of 2012. My standard SS with a 12-inch barrel shot .22-caliber Crosman Premiers at 854 f.p.s. on a certain power setting. I then swapped the barrel for a 24-inch .22-caliber AirForce barrel and on the same power setting shot the same Crosman Premier pellet at an average 1,027 f.p.s. From the 23.16 foot-pounds the rifle was getting, the longer barrel boosted the power by more than 10 foot-pounds to 33.5 foot-pounds. That’s a 69 percent power increase from just changing the barrel. Or, you could dial the velocity back to 23 foot-pounds with the longer barrel and get many more shots per fill. Either way, a longer barrel puts a pneumatic ahead every time.

Rebuttal

“Yeah,” they say. “but a spare barrel costs a bundle ($209.00 for a .22-caliber 24-inch barrel when this blog was published)! I can get a Captain GoFaster hammer and spring for $40.” 

So, do that. And then pay me $200 to repair your rifle, plus $35 shipping each way, when that heavier hammer and spring wrecks your action after about 200-300 shots. I fixed Mr. Condor’s rifle after the same abuse.

“Well, they shouldn’t build their rifle with an aluminum frame. If it was steel it wouldn’t get wrecked so easily!”

Wait just a second. Aren’t you the same guy who said the HW 80 is too heavy and they should either make it from titanium if they can keep the price the same, or at least from hardened aluminum?

What is the big deal?

So why am I writing this report today? I’m writing it because airgun companies aren’t hiring shooters anymore. They are hiring folks who have held positions in other companies doing other kinds of things and does it really matter whether they design a macerating toilet or a spring-piston powerplant? Isn’t all engineering just engineering?

Better yet, why not use someone else’s engineers? Can’t we just examine a finished product that we don’t have to pay to design or gear up to manufacture, so more of our money stays with us? Yes, you can. In fact, if that is your business plan you don’t have to spend any money on engineering or on plant setup. Just buy what your customers say they want.

Let’s see now, they say they want:
A .308-caliber breakbarrel rifle that can take down medium-sized game.
A powerful precharged air rifle that weighs less than 6 pounds.
A full-auto pellet rifle
An air rifle that shoots pellets at 1,700 f.p.s.

All of these are things “they” (airgunners on forums) have said they want and would pay money for. All have been built except the last one. It turns out that can’t be done on air. Only helium can shoot a pellet that fast.

“They” won’t spend the $500 for the full-auto pellet gun. “They” won’t buy the titanium PCP that weighs less than 6 pounds because it costs too much. “They” are staying away from the .308 breakbarrel because it’s too hard to cock.

The moment something becomes real, “they” scatter like cockroaches. “They” love to talk, but “they” have no money.

What to make

Make airguns that really sell. Make accurate airguns that have good triggers and great accuracy. So what if the prices climb as the features are added? “They” don’t have any money to spend anyhow, but real airgunners do.

What about velocity?

I started this report talking about the need for speed and how it isn’t a real thing — at least not one that an airgun company needs to worry about. Remember the Umarex Hammer? It took four years and multiple redesigns to bring it to market. And over those years that $500 big bore went up to $900 retail as the design was refined.  It went from a 3-shot repeater whose tagline was, “The world’s most powerful production airgun”  to a 2-shot that puts out 700 foot-pounds. That’s very powerful, but it’s not the most powerful production air rifle. And here is the deal.

Nobody needs 700 foot-pounds of muzzle energy to kill deer-sized game. You can drop a whitetail deer with 250 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, so 500 foot-pounds is more than enough. Sure, speed and power both sell. I understand that. So your marketeers are going to push for all the speed they can get. Have the good sense to shove them to the rear of the room and listen to those who really know the market.

Yes, if you only sell in discount stores then the highest velocity is what you want printed on the box. But someone in the company needs to worry about the volume of returns, when it becomes obvious to the buyers that speed kills — everything they thought they wanted in an airgun!

So how do you get a new shooter to make a wise decision and spend almost $300 for a breakbarrel rifle that won’t shoot as fast as one costing $100? One way is to publish a blog with a writer who has made all the mistakes you are about to and can show them and tell you about them in a way you can understand. You may not believe him up front, but after a couple times, when you have the same experiences he warned you about, you’ll start to see the bigger picture.

Who doesn’t need speed?

Believe it or not, there is a huge group of airgunners who absolutely don’t want faster airguns! We call them 10-meter shooters. In the 1960s their target air rifles shot around 650 f.p.s., but today they are content to shoot at 575 f.p.s. They have no problem spending in excess of $3,000 for a rifle or $2,000 for a pistol, and higher velocity will only kill the deal. But you gotta give them accuracy and a great trigger and superior ergonomics and other features that help win matches. And I wouldn’t listen to what the former brand manager for a soap company tells me about the 10-meter airgun market! He may learn the lingo in a day, but he may never understand the product, the market or the ten times bigger market that watches what the competitors choose and buys accordingly.

A BB story to illustrate

BB Pelletier is currently considering purchasing a motorcycle. BB rode bikes in the 1960s and ’70s and has owned 15 or 20 of them over the years. BB is an old man who hasn’t ridden in 40 years. But BB reads this blog every day — even though it doesn’t always look like it to his readers.

So BB went to a Harley Davidson dealer last Saturday to check out the Harley Sportster Iron 1200. That’s right — a girl’s bike! BB is challenged by his 28-inch inseam and, although he has owned two Harleys (a ’46 knucklehead and a ’48 panhead) in the past, plus a Laverda 750 and a Suzuki 850GS, he no longer likes tall heavy bikes. BB wants to keep both feet flat on the ground, and an Iron Sportster 1200 lets him do that.

But the Sportster is a girls bike! Yes, BB is aware of that. He probably won’t be joining any MC clubs, unless they let girls ride, too. BB will wear a helmet every time he rides because, although a helmet is not required in Texas, BB has been under cars a couple times in the past and doesn’t want to dull the shine on his chrome dome.

So even BB Pelletier, who is one of the most untrainable men on the planet, can learn from his mistakes. Be of good cheer, RidgeRunner, there is even hope for you.

Summary

In short, your airgun customer is a guy or gal who likes to shoot. Find out what they like about shooting and try to give it to them. It isn’t always speed or horsepower.

Forget the kids (of every age) who shop by the velocity numbers and low prices at the box stores. Yeah, they’ll buy but they won’t keep your company in business forever. You need Momma and Daddy Deepockets who know what they want.


Saving money at any expense

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Crosman Premiers
  • A dollar cheaper
  • Cut a slot in your head!
  • Back to airguns
  • Which one?
  • How to choose
  • Same for airguns
  • We’ve been invaded!
  • Whatcha do
  • Summary

Ahhh! Saving money. Many of the airgunners I know will go to extremes to do it, and it often costs them a lot.

Crosman Premiers

I remember back in the middle ’90s, when the Crosman Premier pellet was the talk of the airgun world. Everybody wanted Premiers because they flew so straight in so many airguns. I remember talking to the Crosman engineer who designed the Premier. He attended an airgun show in Baldwinsville, New York, and no, it wasn’t Ed Schultz. He told me he designed the Premier line to be aerodynamic and when the design was finalized, all the pellets in the line were very aerodynamic. So Premiers flew straight and true and everybody wanted them.

A dollar cheaper

But because they were airgunners, everybody wanted the cheapest Premiers they could buy. So when Rick Willnecker offered Premiers in his store at a dollar a box less than what they sold for online, the hunt was on! One guy on my Airgun Letter yellow forum bragged about driving from southern Virginia to Rick’s place in Pennsylvania, where he saved five dollars! He drove over 200 miles round trip to do it and spent the better part of a day on the road. Some savings!

Cut a slot in your head!

When I worked as a contractor, teaching members of the Department of Defense how their acquisition system worked, the talk was always about saving money. And yet the actions that were taken were often just the opposite. The systems my clients bought were huge telecommunications systems that were unique, as in one of a kind. They used minicomputers, which in those days were VAX 11-780s — tall cabinets the size of two large school lockers, and the systems might have dozens of them! We were also pushing the state of the art, when it came to the response times of these systems.

Guys, when you build a unique system you want it to work well, come in on time and be cheap. Pick two of those three things, because it is impossible to get all three! I got so frustrated with this “buying on the cheap” mindset that I told my clients if they wanted to save money they should cut a slot in their head and become a piggy bank.

Back to airguns

How does this relate to airguns? Simple! You want a pellet rifle that’s pleasant to shoot, accurate and has a good trigger. Looks aren’t as important, but you don’t mind if the gun you get looks traditional. You want a .177 because you are getting this airgun just to plink and to have some fun. Your choices are a Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with a lightning gas ram, an HW 30S and a Shining Mountain single shot. These three are all breakbarrels that shoot at under 700 f.p.s.

The Woods Raider QT XDR retails for $249. The HW 30S retails for $299 — $339, when it’s in stock, but it seems to be sold out everywhere. The Shining Mountain sells for $169-199.

Which one?

You are not new to airguns. You know that the Shining Mountain breakbarrel is from China. It could be good, but it’s being sold by small fly-by-night dealers on eBay and Amazon, and you also know that the accuracy will be a crap shoot. Some of the dealers will be honest and easy to deal with if you get a rifle that’s lousy, but you just went through a nasty return experience with a no-name dealer and you aren’t up for another one so soon.

The Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram is being sold by a major distributor and Pyramyd Air has them in stock. However, you know that this rifle is also probably Chinese, so you will be taking the same chance with accuracy as you would with the Shining Mountain. The good news is there are two reputable companies between you and this purchase. Both of them have good reputations for customer satisfaction. But still, there is all that doubt about the DNA of the airgun. And it has a gas piston that, I don’t care who made it, always makes the rifle a little harder to cock.

And then there is the HW 30S. Without question this one is the most expensive of your three choices and what’s worse, it isn’t available right now. You just got your income tax refund and you want an airgun!

The HW 30S will be smooth and accurate. You know that it will have the best trigger of all three choices and also that Weihrauch air rifles are made to be serviced by their owners. So, if you ever want to modify it or to lubricate it, this is the only one of the three that makes it easy for you.

How to choose

Allow me to reflect on how a 73 year old diabetic looks at something like this. It’s lunchtime and I want a hot fudge sundae for dessert. I have the ice cream, the whipped cream and the hot fudge on hand to make it. I know that if I eat one right now my blood sugar will be off the chart for the next two days. And also, because I am lactose intolerant, there could be problems during my daily walk that comes up in about three hours.

Having gone down this trail many times in the past I have learned that abstinence always hurts up front, but it also almost always pays off in the long run. I say almost always, because sometimes I just gotta have that sundae!

Same for airguns

It’s the same for airguns. Right now you can’t find an HW 30S for sale in the United States.  But there are still plenty of Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDRs with lightning gas rams and Shining Mountain breakbarrels for sale. Why?

We’ve been invaded!

The socio-political events of recent times have driven all the packrat airgunners in the United States to fill their nests with shiny trinkets to the point that there is no room for them anymore. Also, a hundreds-of-times larger herd of packrats has crossed over from the world of firearms. They can’t find enough 9mm, .40 cal. and .223 Remington ammo to fuel their weekly habit of punching paper, and they heard that airguns are the next best thing. They are used to paying thousands of dollars for an all-up AR-15 and when they saw that the HW 30S was only $339, they figured that was chump change.

These guys listened to all of you before they made any purchases and you warned them about the Shining Mountain breakbarrels and the Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram. They were able to run over the barbed wire entanglement that you guys fell on in your years of becoming airgunners, by stepping on your backs. And now there is no toilet paper in the airgun world. Whaddaya do?

Whatcha do

You can buy what’s out there right now, and in a few days the brown Santa (or the dark blue Tooth Fairy) will deliver a happy package to your doorstep. Or, you can grit your teeth and commit to spending even more money by ordering an HW 30S from whomever will take your order. And then you wait. Yeah — I hate waiting too, but what’s even worse than waiting is opening that happy package and discovering that you now have to justify an air rifle that’s deficient in multiple ways, when old BB Pelletier told you there is something much better. Darn it, BB, why didn’t you stick to straight razors?

Summary

There are a lot of ways to go, these days, but not all of them will get you where you want to be. This stuff is so easy for me to write because over the years I have made all these mistakes — many times!


Norma S-Target Match pellet

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Norma tin
Today we are looking at the S-Target Match pellet from Norma.

This report covers:

  • A new line of pellets
  • Today’s pellet
  • Consistency
  • Weight
  • Cleanliness
  • How to test
  • FWB 300S
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Beeman R8 Tyrolean
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Another test?
  • Summary

Today I’m doing something that I find difficult to do — introducing a new pellet. Actually I’m introducing a new line of pellets branded by Norma, but today we will look at just one of them — the Norma S-Target Match wadcutter.

This is difficult because you readers are all over the board when it comes to the things you shoot. I show a group of ten pellets in three-quarters of an inch at 25 yards and it’s sacrilege for some of you, and others ask me how that would look on a soda can! So today I’m just gonna do what I’m gonna do and you can watch if you want. Today will be a first look at this pellet — not an all-out test.

A new line of pellets

The S-Target Match isn’t the girl you fell in love with in the first grade and loved all through high school. This is a new girl who just moved into the neighborhood a couple months ago with a large family that we will get to know in the days ahead. There are domes, heavy domes, pointed pellets and wadcutters in both .177 and .22 in the family. I plan to run them into my tests in the coming days, but today is an introduction to the new line and I chose the Norma S-Target Match to intro the line. She has a pretty name, but can she cook? That’s what we will start to learn today.

Today’s pellet

The S-Target Match is an 8.2-grain wadcutter that I slipped into yesterday’s blog for the first time. Didja notice? With the words Target and Match in the name this pellet goes up against some pretty stiff competition and that is how it has to be tested. 

There are 300 pellets in a tin in the .177 caliber and 200 in the .22. I don’t know the retail pricing, so I can’t say how expensive this pellet is. Norma claims a 7mm grouping at 10 meters for the pellets I’m testing today, but they measured from the outside of all the holes, rather than the more common center-to-center. But that is easy enough to correct. To get the group size you subtract one pellet diameter — 4.5mm — from 7mm and you get a group size of 2.5mm or 0.098-inches between centers. That would be a remarkable group! Of course I have no idea of what airgun shot it or if the airgun was hand-held or clamped in a vise, but there aren’t too many air pistols or rifles that can do much better.

Consistency

Question number one — does this pellet come in different head sizes? Not that I can see on the packaging. That’s a little odd for a target pellet. So I got out my Pelletgage and measured 10 of them at random. Seven had heads smaller than 4.49mm. One was 4.49mm. One was 4.495mm and one was 4.51mm.

Since the bulk of the ten I measured were smaller than 4.49mm, I believe that is the intended head size for this pellet. Maybe it’s 4.485mm but my Pelletgage doesn’t go down that small because who uses pellets with heads that small? Unfortunately I have no airguns that prefer head sizes that small (that I know of), but I proceeded with the test regardless.

Weight

We are also concerned with how consistent the weight of these pellets is. So I weighed the 10 whose heads I measured and got 1 that weighed 8.1 grains, 6 that weighed 8.2 grains and 3 that weighed 8.3 grains. For 10-meter competition weight means a lot less than head size, and there is no benefit in being anal and going down to the hundredth of a grain. The gram weight is advertised as 0.53 grams. Weight matters a lot more in field target where you shoot out to 50 meters. At 10 meters it almost doesn’t matter.

Cleanliness

One thing that does matter to both 10-meter shooters and field target competitors is the cleanliness of the pellets in the tin. Back when I competed in field target some people washed their pellets to get rid of small lead chips they called swarf. I hand-sorted my pellets by weight and eyeballed each of them but I never bothered washing them. But then I was only an average field target shooter.

Now, in 10-meter competition where I was more competitive I hand-inspected each pellet — though I never weighed them. I will say that the H&N, RWS and Chinese target pellets that I used back in the 1990s were all very clean and free from swarf. These Norma pellet are also clean and absolutely swarf-free. I cannot see a flake of lead swarf in the tin or in the skirts of any of the pellets — and I looked!

How to test

This is a new pellet, so how do I test it? Well for starters I shoot it in the most accurate .177 air rifles I have and see what it does. As I said in the beginning — this is just an introduction, not an all-out test.

FWB 300S

My most accurate 10-meter target rifle is my FWB 300S. I have shot 5-shot groups as small as 0.078-inches with Qiang Yuan Olympic target pellets, but I decided to use another pellet I have in greater supply today. 

I shot off a sandbag rest, resting the rifle directly on the bag. Because the 300S isolates the barreled action from the stock to allow the action to slide back in recoil, a bag rest is the best way to hold the rifle.

JSB Exact RS

The FWB 300S has put five JSB Exact RS pellets into a 0.111-inch group at 10 meters in the past (Feb 24, 2012). I thought the rifle was still sighted for this pellet and it was. Now, on any given day old BB will be a little better or a little worse, so the first thing I did was shoot a group of five RS pellets off a rest at 10 meters. When the first pellet cut the 10-ring I stopped looking and shot the remaining four. Man — can that 300S shoot! The only thing I don’t like is the rear sight coming back into my eye, but I wear glasses to protect myself.

This time I put five RS pellets into 0.137-inches at 10 meters. That’s larger than back in 2012, but in the same ballpark. That would serve as my baseline.

FWB RS group
The FWB 300S put five JSB Exact RS pellets into as 0.137-inch group at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Next I loaded an S-Target Match pellet into the FWB and touched it off. I was pleased to see the pellet was not just a 10, but a pinwheel (the pellet hole was centered almost perfectly inside the 9-ring, obliterating the 10-dot completely)! Then I shot the next 4 rounds without looking. At the end I had 5 shots in a hole that measures 0.172-inches between centers at 10 meters. Given the small head size of this pellet, that is excellent performance. If I had a pellet rifle that liked the smaller head sizes this S-Target-Match might do much better. Perhaps I do have something, but I will get to it later.

FWB Norma Target group
The FWB 300S put five Norma S-Target Match pellets into a 0.172-inch group at 10 meters.

Beeman R8 Tyrolean

The other hyper-accurate .177 rifle I own is my Beeman R8 Tyrolean that was a gift when I got out of the hospital in 2010. That one is so accurate that I don’t ever remove the Burris Timberline 4.5-14X32 scope that’s on it. I just shoot it.

R8 Tyrolean
Beeman R8 Tyrolean.

JSB Exact RS

This rifle likes JSB Exact RS pellet, as well, which is another reason I chose it for today’s test. In the past I have put five shots from this rifle and pellet into 0.22-inches at 25 yards — not 10 meters. Today I shot at 10 meters and five went into 0.21-inches between centers. That’s a very nice group, even though it is only 10 meters.

R8 RS
The R8 put five JSB RS pellets in 0.21-inches at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Now for the Norma S-Target Match pellet. Five went into 0.25-inches exactly. Given the smaller head I think that’s pretty darn good.

R8 Norma
Five Norma S-Target Match pellets went into 0.25-inches at 10 meters.

Another test?

I do own an FWB P44 pistol whose test target group measures 0.018-inches between centers — the smallest test target I have ever seen. I was never able to get groups smaller than 0.242-inches at 10 meters, and that was with Vogel pellets that have 4.50mm heads. So that pistol might be the ideal testbed for this S-Target Match pellet. I’m thinking of testing this pellet again in that pistol, and I would sort my pellet heads for the test.

Summary

That’s a quick look at what promises to be a great new line of lead pellets. Like I mentioned, you will be seeing more of them in the future.


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Three groups
  • Taped the targets
  • Hand-held
  • Follow-through
  • Glasses
  • First group — H&N Finale Match Light
  • Group two — RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • A secret
  • Head sizes and groups
  • Group three — Vogle Match pellets
  • Velocity?
  • Why?
  • Another accuracy test

Today we revisit the Diana 75/Beeman 400 for a very special reason. You readers thought the rifle didn’t perform up to expectations last time in the accuracy test, and neither did I. So I took every one of your recommendations and applied them today.

Three groups

I only have three 5-shot groups to show you from today’s test. I shot them with the two pellets that did the best in the last test, plus one pellet that I thought might be on the fence. I shot from 10 meters and I’ll tell you the rest as we go. Much of what I will say in this report is for me, for the next time I shoot this rifle.

Taped the targets

To keep the targets from tearing I put tape on their backs. I used aluminum foil tape like Hank recommended on some of the bulls and a white form of duct tape on the rest. The aluminum tape tore the target paper around the edges of each hole and was not as clean as the white duct tape, so next time the white tape is what I’ll use. Just cover the back of each bull and that’s it.

Hand-held

Someone, I don’t know who, recommended holding the rifle tight to the shoulder. He said the Giss contra-recoil system does not like to be rested directly on a bag. Maybe that was a comment to the Diana 10/Beeman 900 pistol that I tested awhile back. Either way, today I rested the forearm on the flat palm of my off hand that was resting on the sandbag. I did not grip the forearm with my fingers. I also pulled the butt firmly into my shoulder and my right hand gripped the pistol grip of the stock firmly.

Follow-through

Another person said my groups last time looked like I wasn’t following through. I had to agree with him. I made a concerted effort to follow through on every shot this time.

Glasses

Instead of the 1.25-diopter reading glasses that I would normally use, I wore my regular glasses today. My vision is 20-25, corrected to 20-20 by my glasses. The front sight diopter was clear and I was able to center the bull precisely.

Okay, that’s a lot of stuff done differently than last time. Last time the rifle was rested directly on the sandbag, the targets were not taped, I wore the reading glasses and I held the rifle in a classic artillery hold. I also agreed that I was probably not following through on every shot last time. So all the important stuff was changed today to conform to the comments made by you readers.

First group — H&N Finale Match Light

In the last test I thought that H&N Finale Match Light pellets did the best. When I measured the groups I discovered that a different pellet beat them, but I still had a very good feeling about this pellet. The best group with Finale Match Light last time was five in 0.186-inches between centers.

Today I put five Finale Match Light pellets into 0.14-inches between centers. That is a gold dollar group, because it’s smaller than 0.15-inches between centers. It’s also the best group of the day — or at least the best group that I will show you.

Finale light group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets into a 0.14-inch group at 10 meters.

This group was high, so I adjusted the rear sight down 9 clicks. I can’t hear the clicks when I adjust, but the numbers on the scale tell me what I am doing.

Group two — RWS R10 Match Pistol

The next pellet I tried was the RWS R10 Match Pistol wadcutter. In the last test this pellet did the best, putting five into 0.162-inches at 10 meters. This time it didn’t group as tight, with five in 0.198-inches, but that’s still good enough for the silver trime (groups that are less than 0.20-inches between centers).

R10 Pistol group
The Diana 75 put five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets into a group that measures 0.198-inches between centers at 10 meters.

A secret

And now I’ll tell you a secret. I didn’t shoot just three groups this time. I shot four! The first group of R10 pellets that I haven’t shown measured a tight 0.121-inches between centers — BUT, there is also a lone shot that hit about a half-inch to the left of the group. I believe on the last target that I am about to show you I might have fired one of the five shots at the wrong bull and it was the flier I just mentioned with this first R10 group. I believe that, but I’m not sure. 

I looked at the small R10 group through the spotting scope after completing it and I didn’t see a hole off to its left, but when I collected the target there it was. And, on the next group you are about to see, I can only see what appear to be four holes. Also, the wild shot on the R10 bull would have grouped with the rest of these other pellets, had it been shot at the correct bull.

I’m not showing you that smaller R10 group because I don’t know for sure what happened. But I saw the small group clearly through the scope and I believe I would have also seen the stray hole if it had been there. Hey, guys — this is what happens in the real-world!

Head sizes and groups

Jerry Cupples and I had talked for a long time the day before about Pelletgage and I had pellet head sizes on my mind. I just bought 6,500 Vogel target pellets that came in a bulk pack. They can be any head size and I suspected this Diana 75 likes the larger sizes. So I checked the head sizes of both the Finale Match Light pellets and the R10 Match Pistol pellets. I didn’t sort them by head size — I only wanted to know what their general head sizes were in the tin, since they were the two most accurate pellets in this rifle.

Finale Match Light pellets had head sizes that ranged from 4.525 to 4.53mm and R10 Match Pistol pellet heads ranged from 4.515 to 4.525mm. I’m using a special Pelletgage that Jerry produced that goes down to the thousandth of a millimeter.

Then I hand-sorted 11 Vogle pellets with head sizes greater than 4.53mm. I know that is a larger head size than the other two pellets, but at the time I thought bigger was better in this rifle.

Group three — Vogle Match pellets

This group, which may only be 4 shots (it was backed by aluminum tape), measures 0.547-inches between centers at 10 meters. Clearly, and in comparison with the other two (or possibly three) groups, the Vogle is not the right pellet for the Diana 75 — at least not Vogels with heads larger than 4.53mm!

Vogel group
Either four or five Vogle pellets made this 0.547-inch group at 10 meters. I think the Diana 75 does not like pellets with a head size larger than 4.53mm, and it may not like Vogel pellets altogether.

Velocity?

Now I will address something several readers mentioned after they read the velocity test in Part Two. They wondered whether the new piston seal that Dave Slade installed in the rifle a few years ago was still breaking in. You may remember that the former owner of the rifle sold it to me knowing that the velocity was slow. Those readers who commented wondered whether the rifle might speed up as that new seal was used.

Well, between Parts 3 and today I have shot the rifle another 60 times since the velocity test was done. If there is some break-in happening we should start seeing it by now, I think. So I shot another string of 10 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets for velocity. 

The average for this pellet in Part 2 was 534 f.p.s. The low was 526 and the high was 543 f.p.s., so the spread was 17 f.p.s.

Today I oiled the piston seal with two drops of silicone chamber oil, then fired 9 shots to settle down the powerplant. When oil stopped spraying out on every shot, I started the chronograph. The average today was 545 f.p.s and the spread went from a low of 539 to a high of 551 f.p.s. — a difference of 12 f.p.s. After 60 shots since the last velocity test the average velocity for this pellet is up by 11 f.p.s. and the spread is down by 5 f.p.s. It’s a small difference but it does appear that the new piston seal could be breaking in. I plan to watch the velocity of this rifle over time and see how it develops.

Why?

Why did I run this extra accuracy and velocity test? I did it because in the future I want to pit this rifle against my FWB 300S that is the most accurate 10-meter rifle I own. I learned a lot today, and I have explained all of it to you in this report.

This rifle came to me with a test target group that measures 0.065-inches between centers. As far as I’m concerned, we have not yet seen performance of that level from this rifle. That means one of two things, or both. Either I haven’t yet found the right pellet for the rifle, or I haven’t yet found the right head size. I think the ideal head size for this rifle is around 4.52mm. Based on the smallest group of R10 pellets that I didn’t show you, the group that might measure 0.121-inches between centers if I’m right about the flier, the R10 may be the best pellet and 4.52mm may be the correct head size.

Diana-75-test-target
The test target that came with the Diana 75 is serial-numbered to the rifle. A group of five pellets are in 0.065-inches at 10 meters.

Another accuracy test

I see another accuracy test is in store for this rifle. I want it to do its very best when it faces my FWB 300S, because that rifle certainly will be doing the same.


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The sights
  • No clear inserts
  • The test
  • Sight in
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Vogel Match
  • Discussion
  • H&N Finale Match Heavy
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • RWS R10 Match Heavy
  • Something more
  • Discussion 2
  • Summary

Today we start testing the accuracy of the Diana 75/Beeman 400 target air rifle.

The sights

I first had to mount the rear sight and change the front sight post insert for an aperture. The Diana rear sight is straightforward, except this one has adjustment directions in English rather than German.  You simply adjust the knob in the direction you want the pellet to move. Simple! I had the rear sight on the rifle, positioned and clamped tight in about 15 seconds. But the front sight…!

Diana 75 rear sight
The Diana 75 rear sight is conventional except the adjustment markings are English and not German.

The front sight, on the other hand, is a real piece of work! I didn’t pay much attention to it until this morning, just before I shot the rifle. I knew I needed to switch inserts because it had a tapered post and I wanted an aperture. Wayne Johnson who sold me the rifle sent all the sight inserts in a small jar, along with some other stuff that I need time to research.

Diana 75 front sight
There’s a whole lotta magic inside this Diana 75 front sight.

Diana 75 sight inserts
The conventional sight inserts.

Diana 75 sight stuff
… and there was also this stuff. I think it’s an adjustable front sight aperture, but I need time to research it. The red tube appears to be a wrench for the sight.

No clear inserts

I had hoped to install a clear plastic front sight aperture today, but the ones I have don’t fit. At least I wasn’t able to get them to fit. So I used a 3.5mm steel aperture insert from the ones shown above. It works well so far.

The test

Today I’m just getting used to this new target rifle and finding out what sort of pellets it likes. I shot from a rest at 10 meters with the rifle rested directly on a sandbag. I shot 5 shots per group. 

Sight-in

There was no sight-in! Perhaps for the second time in more than a half century of shooting, the sights were on target from the get-go. That’s odd because I store this rifle in a case with the rear sight removed and today I also swapped the front sight insert. I felt lucky to just be on paper at 10 meters, and never expected to hit in the bull I aimed at! The pellet was not perfectly centered but since I’m testing a lot of different pellets I left the sights set where they were.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

I chose RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets to sight in for no particular reason. When the first pellet landed in the black I decided to just finish the first group. Unfortunately it isn’t very small. Five pellets made a group that measures 0.526-inches between centers. Ugh!

Diana 75 Meisterkugeln group
The Diana 75 put 5 RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets in 0.526-inches at 10 meters. It is the largest group of the test. This group isn’t as big as it looks because there was some tearing of the target paper.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The second pellet I tested was the RWS R10 Match Pistol wadcutter. Five of them went into 0.162-inches at 10 meters.

Diana 75 R10 Pistol group
That’s the stuff! Five R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 0.162-inches at 10 meters.

When I shot this group I wasn’t aware how small it is because of some paper tearing. This is the smallest group of today’s test.

Vogel Match

This was the pellet I hoped would do best because I just ordered 5,000 of them on a bulk buy at a fabulous low price. They come in different head sizes and the ones I tested today are nominally 4.50mm. But, yucky-poo, they grouped in 0.403-inches between centers! And paper tearing makes the group look larger than it is. These pellets weigh 8.3-grains nominally.

Diana 75 Vogel group
Five Vogel pellets with 4.50mm heads made two groups that measure 0.403-inches between centers.

Discussion

Okay — I’m startin’ to figure this out. The heavy pellets are moving so slow that they are tearing the paper. I probably need to visit Neal Stepp to get this rifle put right again. And heavy pellets aren’t as accurate as the light ones.

Also I want to report that the 75 doesn’t come back at me when it fires, so I can put the rubber eye shield against my glasses for every shot. That’s a reminder to myself for next time. Let’s shoot some more.

H&N Finale Match Heavy

The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Heavy wadcutter. I still didn’t know about the rifle’s aversion to heavy pellets.  Five of these made a group that measures 0.259-inches between centers. That’s not too bad except the Diana 75 is a target rifle that should put them into a group of half that size.

Diana 75 Finale Heavy group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets in 0.259-inches at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Light

The next pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Light. Given how well the Heavys did I expected this pellet to do well and it did. After I saw the group I thought this was the smallest group of the test, though after measuring I discovered it wasn’t. Five pellets are in 0.186-inches at 10 meters. Another trime!

Diana 75 Finale Light group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets in 0.186-inches at 10 meters. It’s good enough for another trime!

RWS R10 Match Heavy

Next up were five RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets. Care to guess how they did? Given what we now know it was no surprise that five of them went into a group that measures 0.329-inches between centers.

Diana 75 R10 Heavy group
Five R10 Heavy pellets made this 0.329-inch group at 10 meters.

Something more

At this point I had not measured the groups and I thought that the H&N Finale Match Light pellets were the most accurate. So I adjusted the rear sight for them. When I did I discovered that I can’t hear or feel the clicks on this target sight, so I have to watch the numbers on the knobs. It’s the only way to know that you’ve made an adjustment. Based on where the first group landed I moved the rear sight up and to the right.

The second group I shot with the H&N  Finale Match Light pellets measures 0.351-inches between centers. I had hoped to do a lot better than that, so maybe I was starting to get tired. The group was higher than the last but still needed to go right.

Diana 75 Finale Light group2
The second group of Finale Light pellets measures 0.351-inches between centers.

I adjusted the sight a little more to the right for the next group. It already seemed high enough.

For the third and final group of Finale Match Light pellets I pulled out all the stops and concentrated as hard as I could. This time five pellets made a 0.272-inch group. It’s very horizontal and I realized I had come to the end of my test for this day.

Diana 75 Finale Light group3
The final group of Finale Match Light pellets is five in 0.272-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion 2

Well I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. Certainly at this point my FWB 300S is more accurate in my hands than this Diana 75. But the Diana is more pleasant to shoot because the action doesn’t move when it fires. It doesn’t come back into my glasses.

At this juncture I am pondering what comes next. Do I continue to shoot this rifle, try different pellets and see if I can do better, or do I get it back to speed, so to speak? I think most of you will want me to get it looked at.

It probably isn’t fair to put it up against my FWB when it’s not performing as it should. The FWB 300S has already shot several groups smaller than one-tenth-inch and it gets an average 658 f.p.s. with the R10 Pistol pellet, where this Diana only gets an average 543 f.p.s. at the present.

Summary

I still need to learn about that strange front sight setup that appears to be an adjustable-diameter aperture. I kinda want to hang onto the rifle long enough to write that up.

But not to worry — you’re going to see this Diana 75/Beeman 400 many more times in the future!


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Recoil
  • Velocity test
  • R10 Pistol
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • JSB Match Diabolo
  • Discharge noise
  • Discussion
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

We will take a second look at the Diana model 75 sidelever recoilless target rifle that we have learned was sold as a Beeman model 400. You saw the sales receipt in Part 1 that clearly identifies this as a Beeman 400.

Today we will look at a few more things on the rifle and we will test the velocity. As many of you covet one of these old target rifles of the past, this should be an interesting report.

Recoil

The first thing I will address is recoil, or in the case of this rifle, the lack of it. The Diana 75 was made at a time when a recoilless spring-piston air rifle was the height of technology. There were several ways to do it.

Feinwerkbau used a system of thin steel rails inlet into the stock of their 300-series target rifles that allowed the big heavy barreled action to slide one way when the pellet shot out the other. As long as the rifle is held fairly level this system works well, and a target shooter is always going to hold the rifle fairly level. The only thing the shooter feels is the rubber eye cup coming back into his shooting glasses, as the entire barreled action moves rearward by a fraction of an inch.

Anschütz used an oil-filled damping mechanism in their model 250 target rifle to counter the forward movement of the piston. It was subject to leaks and the most problematic of all the anti-recoil systems.

Weihrauch used a combination of weight and stock configuration, plus a smooth tune to counter recoil in their HW55 Custom Match that was the high-water mark of their spring-piston target rifles. The rifle weighs two pounds less than an FWB 300S, but a hollow forearm allows for the insertion of more than two pounds of lead weight.

An HW 55 won the gold medal at the European Championship in 1969. Like the proverbial tale of the last buggy-whip maker that made the finest buggy whips ever created, the HW 55 CM was the finest spring-piston 10-meter target air rifle Weihrauch ever produced. When the Custom Match hit the market in the 1970s, it came just after the summit of success. Little did they know at that time that there would be no more major championships for recoiling air rifles of any make. It was similar to the last gasp of the Offenhauser front-engine Indy cars when Ford got into Indy racing in 1963.

The HW55 CM was not a true recoilless spring-piston rifle, though when weighted and tuned correctly it came close. It reminded me very much of another recoiling target rifle that was nearly recoilless — the FWB 110! Instead of giving you a paragraph on that one I have linked to a special two-part report of the rarest airgun I have ever tested. That report says all I know about that rifle.

And I cannot overlook the Walther LGV. Like the HW55 CM, it is another recoiling target rifle that uses weight and a fine tune to cancel as much as possible. It also has a hollow forearm that allows the insertion of lead, and the ones I have examined have all had the lead poured in in its molten state so that all the space was taken.

And now the Diana 75. It has a Giss double counter-recoiling piston in which the rear piston cancels the movement of the front piston that has the seal to compress the air. John Whiscombe used a variation of this system where both pistons come together like the clapping of hands and instead of 6 foot-pounds that we see in target rifles they can generate as much as 30+ foot-pounds!

When an airgun with a Giss system like this Diana 75 fires there is no movement. All that is felt is a slight impulse through the stock or through the grips if it’s a pistol. This means that the target shooter can press his eye firmly against the rubber eyecup on the rear sight and feel nothing. Compared to the FWB 300 sight  that comes back at you, I like this one better.

Velocity test

Remember that Wayne Johnson who sold me the rifle had chronographed it before listing it on Gun Broker and found it was shooting slow.  It had been tuned by Dave Slade several years earlier and Wayne didn’t chronograph it when he got it back. He mentioned that fact prominently in his Gun Broker listing which is probably why no one had bid when I contacted him. When I approached him I acknowledged that I understood it was shooting slow, and he was happy to make a deal with me. So, I’m expecting the rifle to be a bit slow today.

R10 Pistol

The first pellet I’ll test is the 7-grain RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. Ten of them average 534 f.p.s. The low was 526 and the high was 543, so the spread was 17 f.p.s. That is a high spread and the velocity is slow for a Diana 75 with a 7-grain pellet, but it’s fast enough for an accuracy test. I don’t know if I will have the gun checked out or not yet. It depends on what I see with accuracy. I’m thinking I will leave it alone.

H&N Finale Match Light

The next pellet I tested was the 7.87-grain H&N Finale Match Light. Ten of them averaged 505 f.p.s. The low was 494 and the high was 509 f.p.s., so the spread for this pellet was 15 f.p.s.

JSB Match Diabolo

The last pellet I tested was the 8.3-grain JSB S100 Match Diabolo target pellet. Being the heaviest they were expected to shoot the slowest, which they did. Ten averaged 500 f.p.s. the spread went from a low of 489 to a high of 506 — a difference of 17 f.p.s.

Discharge noise

The 75 is quiet, like you would expect. There is no silencer, but the low power and long barrel play their part. Discharge sound recorded at 92.5 decibels.

Diana 75 discharge

Discussion

This Diana 75 is a little slow and the spread is higher than I would like to see. But at 10 meters that probably won’t mean very much. You saw the 5-shot test target thast came with the rifle in Part One. That group measures 0.065-inches between centers. I doubt I can do as well, but let’s see what I can do. I plan to shoot a lot of different pellets in the accuracy test because this rifle is going in my estate!

Cocking effort

The sidelever cocks the rifle with 15 lbs. of effort as it retracts the sliding compression chamber, pushing back the piston. There is a fine ratchet in the cocking linkage, so if you let go of the sidelever it will stop instantly wherever it is. It will not return to the closed position until the rifle is cocked.

When the sliding compression chamber is all the way open you can see the blue seal that mates with the rear of the barrel. This material is what Diana now uses for their piston seals and some breech seals and it should be a lifetime material.

Diana 75 breech
This is the Diana 75 breech seal. I know it looks pink or magenta or some other color that doesn’t really exist, but it’s blue. Photoshop fought with me a long time with this! Remember — old BB is red/green colorblind! At any rate, it isn’t light brown and crumbling because Dave Slade replaced it.

Trigger pull

The two-stage trigger is set for a 3-ounce pull on stage one and it breaks at 7 ounces. It is as light as I want it to be.

Summary

In short, I like this Diana 75/Beeman 400 a lot! I believe I promised a shootout between this rifle and my FWB 300S that is currently the accuracy leaders at Casa Pelletier. If I didn’t I’m doing it now. The Feinwerkbau is extremely accurate, having put five pellets into a 0.078-inch group at 10 meters, so this rifle has some stiff competition ahead.


A first look at a RAW: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

RAW
The RAW field target rifle built on the new chassis frame.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Website and blog update
  • It was a cold and windy day
  • The rifle
  • Power set at max
  • November 23 Accuracy Testing
  • December 26 — cold-weather and moderator testing
  • January 2 Accuracy Testing
  • January 8 Accuracy Testing
  • Summary

Website and blog update

Pyramyd Air will be redoing the website and the blog design next week. The anticipated cutover date is Wednesday evening, 1/27/21. Therefore today is my last blog posting before the new site goes live next Thursday. There is a possibility that the blog will also be dark on Thursday, 1/28/21.

Nobody likes missing the blog for several days, but I will use the time to get several things done that take a lot of time. Please bear with us as we make this transition. Now on to today’s report.

A special look inside development

I hope you readers appreciate what this report is giving you. Reader Cloud9 is testing a purpose-built RAW field target rifle. It’s not that RAW rifles haven’t competed in field target before. Many have. But this is the first one built especially for that purpose. You are getting a look over the shoulder of a field target competitor as he sorts out his new match outfit. We talk about stuff like this all the time on this blog but seeing it is quite rare.

It was a cold and windy day

Remember that nasty 40-degree day I reported to you on January 12, when I tested the BSA R10 Mark II? We were all surprised at the greater-that-one-inch groups I got from an air rifle that’s supposed to be quite accurate, but several of you allowed that it’s difficult to shoot at 50 yards when you’re cold and the wind is blowing. Reader Yogi even said he read the weather report and the wind was gusting 15-20 mph, while I had reported 5-10 mph. The wind came from my back, so downrange it was swirling.

Seated next to me was Cloud9, shooting his RAW for the umpteenth time. He was trying to find the one best pellet for the rifle, and this was not a good day to do that. Still, it was what it was.

Remember that this RAW has to shoot at less than 12 foot-pounds because Cloud9 is competing in the World Field Target Federation (WFTF) class that restricts the power of the rifle. In his own words:

The rifle

My rifle is a new RAW TM1000 in .177 caliber, set up to shoot just under 12 foot-pounds muzzle energy to be legal for World Field Target Federation competitions in the US and around the world.  It was manufactured in Burleson, TX and Minor Hill, TN.  The parts were produced in the AirForce factory in Texas because this gun was built after the acquisition of RAW by AirForce in 2018.  It has the same tried and true TM1000 action, but in a new aluminum chassis.  It has a single-shot breech, a regulator, a 250bar (3600psi) titanium pressure vessel, a black aluminum chassis and an AR-15 buffer tube and adjustable buttstock. I added a RAW butthook in place of the buttpad, and also a Rowan Engineering adjustable forend (that I call a hamster), and a very comfortable ergonomic target grip.

Power set at max

Part One of this report concluded with data derived on October 30 and 31 of 2020. I was trying to shoot the JSB Exact 8.44-grain dome because at my power threshold I get velocities of between 790 and 800 f.p.s. I am right at 12 foot-pounds when this pellet reaches 800.09 f.p.s.

I leave the FX Radar Pocket Wireless Chronograph attached to the outside of my moderator and it tells me the velocities of each shot through my smart phone. That way I know what each shot does without having to concentrate on a set of skyscreens. I am free to concentrate on the targets. The radar measures velocity as the pellet leaves the muzzle and I have determined that this chronograph is within 5 f.p.s. of what my other chrony registers.

RAW FX radar chrono
I use the FX Radar chrono attached to my moderator.

November 23 Accuracy Testing

Today, I went back out to the range very early to shoot some more groups. There were a few differences this time. First, instead of shootiung off a bench I shot while sitting on my bum bag with my shooting coat on. I supported the rifle on my knee and nestled the butt hook in my shoulder. This is how I shoot in matches. I had decided to see how the rifle shoots under actual match conditions.  

Second, I was shooting next to the concrete wall that separates the 100-yard range I was on from its neighbor range, so there was very little wind to affect my shots.  However, what very slight wind there was tended to swirl and was unpredictable.  I ended up shooting 80 shots @ 60yards using JSB 4.50mm pellets.  I didn’t use the 4.51mm head size because they were in very short supply, and the 4.50mm are very plentiful.  I plan to sort some more pellets this week, so that I have plenty of 4.51mm to shoot going forward.  Here are the results of my shooting session.  At 60 yards, my rifle with this pellet will shoot 1.30” groups or 2 MOA.

RAW FX 60 shots
Eighty shots at 60 yards.

That group size is larger than I expected, and I believe there are some contributing factors.  To start, there was some wind swirling that I know moved some pellets slightly. This was shot at 60 yards.  Next, when shooting off a bumbag and supporting the rifle, it is not as steady as it can be while supported with shooting bags on a bench.  

Finally, I noticed that if I didn’t hold the rifle exactly the same each time (same pressure on grip, same supporting pressure on hamster, same support of right elbow on right knee, and same smooth trigger pull where I am surprised when it goes off, then the pellet would not hit where I was aiming. 

The hold-sensitivity is something I am going to have to work on to reduce or if I cannot do that, then I will have to adapt to it.  One thing I may try is adding weights to the rifle to increase its inertia, or resistance to movement.  A heavier rifle should be less hold-sensitive because it will not move as much when fired.

December 26 — cold-weather and moderator testing

Back at the end of October, I mentioned that with colder temps I was experiencing a poi change that I needed to understand better.  In the first portion of this article, there were some questions asked on the blog about my terminology of scope shift and clarifications were made by myself and others. 

To summarize, at cold temperatures using the side-focus wheel, my scope ranges approximately 4 yards short at 55 yards (indicates 51 yards instead of 55 yards).  Because the scope ranging was slightly short at the last field target match, I had unknowingly added fewer clicks for elevation than I should for what was in reality a 55 yard target. My pellets landed low on the target and I missed!  The poi change was caused by a scope ranging error and not by any other changes in the scope or velocity changes in the gun.  Now that I know to add up to 4 yards to long distance targets over 45 yards, my pellets hit where I aim.

I also mentioned that it seemed the rifle was a little more hold-sensitive than I preferred. To add some weight to the rifle, I removed the the adjustable stock that came with the rife and installed a Magpul PRS Gen3 Precision-Adjustable Stock.  The Magpul’s cheek rest and buttpad have precision dial adjusters with firm clicks that keep them locked in place.  In addition, there is no flex to the buttstock as a result of its robust construction and added mass.

RAW Magpul PRS stock
Magpul PRS buttstock.

Now for the testing, all of which was from the bench using sandbags.  I shot Air Arms 8.44-grain pellets with 4.49mm diameter heads, JSB 8.44-grain pellets with 4.50mm diameter heads and H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64-grain pellets with 4.51mm diameter heads today.  That is a smattering of pellets, and the reason is that I have a baseline for the Air Arms and JSBs of this size but I didn’t have any of my preferred 4.51mm yet.  I decided to try some H&N FTT pellets that are 4.51mm, just to see what would happen.

With the new stock, the group sizes for the Air Arms & JSB pellets were about the same as in previous testing, but it was a little easier to achieve those groups. Perhaps this result is because the added mass of the new buttstock has settled the rifle down a bit and allowed me to hold it more consistently. Or maybe the result was all psychological and I was just shooting more consistently on this day.  I really cannot attribute any improvement to the stock, but I prefer the way the rifle now feels in my hands, especially during a shot.

I wanted to see what the H&N FTT pellets would do, but the group sizes were larger than the Air Arms or JSB, so I quickly decided these weren’t the pellets for this gun.  I do really like these pellets in my HW-97K springers though.

For one final change today, I shot the rifle both with and without the silencer to determine its effect on group sizes. I did see a poi change when adding and removing the silencer, but I could not definitively say that the group sizes were better or worse with or without it.  I will shoot with it going forward, because I like the sound of silence!

January 2 Accuracy Testing

To try and learn some more about my rifle with the intent to reduce the size of the groups, I investigated the effect of increasing and decreasing the velocity that it sends pellets downrange.  After some reading on the internet, I began thinking that perhaps the pellets’ forward velocity was slowing more rapidly than the spin rate at longer distances and perhaps causing them to nutate and precess, resulting in a spiral at longer distances that decreased accuracy. One way to find out is to increase and decrease the muzzle velocity of the pellet and the resulting rotational RPM from the barrel twist, then I can evaluate those changes on group size.  There was no wind this morning, so any group size changes shouldn’t be skewed arbitrarily by it.  All of today’s testing was from the bench using sandbags using JSB 8.44-grain 4.50mm head pellets.

So far, I can say that I’m not seeing much difference in group size by slowing the pellets down.  I started at 795 f.p.s. and reduced the velocity in 20 f.p.s. steps to 740 f.p.s., but the group sizes looked the same.  I also increased the velocity to 820 f.p.s. before I had to halt my testing session and I saw some improvement, but I cannot be sure without further testing.  To be clear, I was testing at muzzle energies greater than 12 foot-pounds, but I won’t be able to do the same in a WFTF field target match.  I would show my results, but I can’t find the targets from this day, so I’ll have to do this over at a later date. 

January 8 Accuracy Testing

This morning, I finally had a chance to test a tin of JSB 8.44-grain, 4.53mm head size pellets that arrived over Christmas.  I never trust the labels on the tins of pellets for head size or weight, so I sorted the tin using the PelletgageR from Jerry Cupples.  Approximately 50 percent of the tin had pellets with head sizes between 4.51 to 4.53mm, with the other half being smaller than 4.51mm.

I also tested about 20 JSB 10.3-grain pellets that Tom Gaylord brought for me, but these weren’t sorted.  I quickly sorted them into 2 piles (4.50mm & 4.51mm).  Tom promised to send me some other pellets that are 4.52mm or larger to test next time. 

All of today’s testing was from the bench using sandbags at 50 yards.  The temperature was 42 degrees F and the winds were swirling at about 9 mph on the range.  The wind definitely affected the group sizes.  I tried to keep notes about when the wind blew or not and resulted in obvious flyers, so that I could try and exclude those shots in my analysis and determine the true capability of the rifle and ammo.

I started with the JSB 10.3-grain pellets from Tom.  These pellets came out of the muzzle at 735 f.p.s.

RAW JSB 10.3 pellets

You can see in this first group that the 14-shot group is 1.144” (2.19 MOA) CTC which is not promising, but the wind was blowing from left to right mostly, so if I try and exclude the probable flyers, the group size shrinks to .685” (1.31 MOA) which is very promising.

Group size was 1.039 inches (1.99MOA) with these JSB pellets, so I think they are not the right ones either.  I do plan to test some additional JSB 10.3-grain pellets when I get some 4.52mm head sizes.

Now I moved on to my sorted JSB 8.44-grain 4.52mm head size pellets, flying downrange at 795 f.p.s. On these next targets I tried to focus on getting 5 good shots and ignoring obvious flyers or impacts affected by wind.

RAW JSB sorted pellets 1

Throwing out three fliers from wind, my first 5-shot group at 50 yards measured just over one-half inch!

EDITOR’S NOTE: I will break in here because I was there to witness what happened. After this first group Cloud9 was very excited. Had he finally found the right pellet for his rifle? He sure hoped so!

RAW JSA 844 sorted pellets 2
Group 2 is 3/8-inches (0.375-inches) between centers at 50 yards and only one pellet is disregarded.

RAW JSA 844 sorted pellets 3
This 50-yard group is slightly larger than the last, at 0.401-inches between centers, but there are no fliers!

RAW JSA 844 sorted pellets 4
These five shots are in 0.201-inches at 50 yards. Sure there are two fliers, but even with them this group is well under an inch.

Summary

I’m going to stop there. Cloud9 was beside himself at this point, because I had been shooting inch-plus groups right next to him with a rifle that was far more powerful. And up to this point, he had been doing p[retty much the same thing. This JSB pellet with a sorted 4.53mm head was looking very good in his rifle.

I had now switched to shooting the .458 Texan that I also recently reported to you. When I finished with that we both ended our range day and went to AirForce to share the goods news with John McCaslin. He was delighted to learn of the success of the day and he and Cloud9 spent some time talking about the design of the field target RAW. I left to start writing my next blog.

There is more to come, but we are taking this slow because there is so much to digest as the testing unfolds.