Where are airguns today?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Spring-piston guns
  • The price-point PCP
  • High-pressure air compressors
  • Action air pistols
  • It’s been done before
  • Airgun shows
  • Hunting
  • They’re listening now!
  • Summary

After writing 6 reports on the SHOT Show I thought it was time to look at all that has happened in airgunning in recent years. We are in a golden age of experimentation and refinement, and it’s good to stop and reflect on that for a moment.

Spring-piston guns

If you had asked me what the future of the spring gun was before I attended this SHOT Show I would have told you that everything that could be done had been done. Then, at the show, I saw not one but two novel new breakbarrels.

Crosman has their new Akura breakbarrel with the Precision Barrel Lock or PBL. It is a novel new way of locking the breech at the shot by using some of the compressed air to push a pin back into the spring tube. The rest of the rifle is a straightforward gas spring breachbarrel, but the question we have to ask is why they felt it necessary to lock the breech this way. A few other airguns use mechanical locks that are operated by the user, so there must be an advantage to locking the breech, but will we see it when I test the Akura? read more


SHOT Show 2018: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The big news
  • Benjamin Fortitude
  • Marauder Field and Target
  • Akura
  • Traveler
  • SigASP20
  • Tight breech and no droop
  • The trigger
  • AirForce E-Pump

I will start the third day on the SHOT Show floor with Crosman. They always have loads of new products and this year was no exception. I actually had to visit the booth two separate times to get what I am about to tell you.

The big news

So — what’s the big news at Crosman? I guess that depends on what interests you, but since I am defining this year’s show as the battle of the price-point PCPs (precharged pneumatic rifles with upscale features selling for under $300), let’s start with the Fortitude.

Benjamin Fortitude

Benjamin’s new Fortitude PCP is regulated, a repeater and has a shroud. It is positioned between the Discovery and the Marauder. read more


Media Day at the Range — SHOT Show 2018: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Media Day upper
The upper range at Media Day has about 50 ranges and vendors. Because of crossbows, the ranges go in both directions.

Media Day
On the lower range there are more ranges, also going both directions, with shotguns on the right.

This report covers:

  • SHOT Show
  • A great find!
  • My interest
  • My collection
  • This BB gun
  • Cocking
  • Takedown
  • Number 25?
  • Sights
  • Summary

Media Day at the Range is an event for gun writers and video makers, only. About 2,000 of us are taken to the Boulder City range where we are allowed to shoot and use some of the newest guns and accessories.

Umarex Hammer

We waited all last year for the Umarex Hammer to come out. From what I saw and sampled this year, I think we will see production guns by mid-2018.

The Hammer is a repeating .50-caliber big bore that gets 4 powerful shots on a fill ton 4,500 psi. The regulator drops the firing pressure to 3,000 psi, and the first 3 shots are all at the same pressure. Shot 4 drops below 3,000 slightly, but at 40 yards all the bullets should stay in a tight group. read more


Hatsan Bullmaster PCP: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hatsan Bullmaster
Hatsan Bullmaster semiautomatic bullpup PCP.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Comments
  • New Bug Buster
  • Power
  • H&N Baracuda 5.50mm head
  • H&N Sniper Light 5.50mm head
  • H&N Field Target Trophy with 5.53mm head
  • Shot count
  • Trigger
  • Sound
  • Summary
  • Next

Comments

I’ll start today’s report by listing some of the comments you readers made to Part 1. Several of you don’t care for the Hatsan BullMaster’s looks. That’s why I show a picture of the gun at the top of each report. You have to be satisfied with the appearance if you’re going to buy an airgun this expensive.

Next, several of you commented on the weight. At more than 10 pounds before the scope is mounted, this is not a lightweight airgun. Bullpups are small, but not necessarily light.

Then there is the size, itself. For a bullpup, the Bullmaster is on the large side. The overall length of just under 31 inches is very short compared to a conventional air rifle, but for a bullpup it’s on the long side. That length does give you a fully shrouded barrel that’s just under 20 inches, and you need the barrel length for power, but the point of a bullpup is its compact size. read more


Getting started with a precharged air rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Fill options
  • Practicality
  • Filling a big bore
  • Tank size
  • Filling a smallbore PCP
  • The point
  • Air compressors
  • Booster compressors
  • Stand-alone compressors
  • The future

I said in the last report that I would write this report on filling options for PCPs. I’m writing this for the new guys who aren’t sure which way to turn. Any way you go represents an investment, so this is something that needs to be given a lot of consideration. Hopefully this report will start a discussion of that.

Fill options

There are two basic ways to fill a precharged airgun. Either the air is introduced from a container where it is stored until called for or else it is put in and compressed as the fill is made. The first option is based on an air tank of some kind. The second is either a hand pump or a small air compressor that connects to the airgun. I will talk about both of these but first I want to discuss practicality. read more


Beeman R8: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Rail Lock Compressor R8

The Beeman R8 looks like a baby R1.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • New mainspring
  • The compression chamber honing
  • The Rail Lock Compressor
  • Cleaning
  • Piston seal
  • Installed the new seal and mainspring
  • Back in the stock
  • Cocking effort
  • RWS Hobbys
  • RWS Superdomes
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Firing behavior
  • Conclusions so far

The new mainspring and piston seal Pyramyd Air sent for my R8 arrived and I installed them last Thursday. This will document how that installation went and look at the velocity results, plus the powerplant smoothness.

New mainspring

The new mainspring is made from better wire than the stock Weihrauch spring. Gene Salvino has reports of guns with up to 9,000 shots with this spring that have lost little velocity, if any, since installation.

I knew there would be a lot of interest in this mainspring, so I examined it carefully and also photographed it next to the existing spring. The new spring wire is silver colored, where the Weihrauch spring wire is a darker color. The new spring appears to be about one inch longer than the original, but I don’t think it has been scragged. read more


Beeman R8: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Rail Lock Compressor R8

The Beeman R8 looks like a baby R1.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Don’t over-lubricate
  • Rail Lock mainspring compressor
  • Degreasing
  • Lube the piston seal
  • Clean the mainspring
  • Finish the assembly
  • What is it like now?
  • Velocity test
  • Discussion

Last Friday’s report set us up for today. I was discussing “tuning” airguns before knowing how they performed. I didn’t do that with this rifle, but that discussion loosened up a lot of minds, and I got many suggestions of what to do with the R8. I wanted to disassemble it and remove most of the “special” grease I had applied, and then Gene Salvino of the Pyramyd Air tech department and I had a long conversation about what was happening with that rifle.

Don’t over-lubricate

Gene said it is very possible to put too much of that grease into a lower-powered spring gun. He said if you do that you’ll get exactly the result I got with the R8 — a reduction of several hundred feet per second in the velocity. read more