What you know

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Everybody’s a prepper — let’s get an airgun!
  • What you know
  • The BIG one!
  • Clean that barrel
  • You can shoot quietly at home with the right airgun
  • A powerful air pistol
  • Bullets have to fit the barrel
  • A cheaper way to shoot at home
  • How did you know that?
  • Summary

The current world situation in the year 2020 has caused many people to become preppers. People who are not mentally suited to preparedness are doing things these days that they have never done before. I saw the same thing happen in 1977, when I returned from Europe and watched the aftermath of the 1973-74 gas crisis. People were eschewing land yachts in favor of more economical automobiles that they could sustain in times when there wasn’t enough gas to go around.

Everybody’s a prepper — let’s get an airgun!

Now that ammunition and even reloading supplies are unavailable (in the United States) I hear people talking about getting an airgun. But what they don’t know, and you do, is going to hurt them!

What you know

You know instinctively that higher velocity is meaningless without accuracy. Those new to airguns are attracted to the velocity figures, and the highest one must be the best. You know that if your pellet doesn’t hit the target, all the velocity in the world is meaningless.

You know that breakbarrel springers can be extremely accurate. The uninitiated think that because the barrel moves when the rifle is cocked, it must be less accurate. And the kinds of breakbarrels they buy at the discount stores will only confirm their beliefs! You know that a SIG ASP20 can have the same high velocity they seek, yet also outshoot anything they can find in the big box store. See what you know?

The BIG one!

You know that ALL rifles, both air-powered and firearms, are very subject to barrel droop. These new guys don’t. They buy their $1,500 AR-15 and then go through scope after scope and mount after mount until they either give up, or resign themselves to the fact that an AR-15 isn’t accurate, or they blunder into one of the drooper scope mounts made for AR-15s and they correct the situation.

At present these “downward-angled” scope rings are being sold under the auspices of making rifles that are sighted for 300 yards suitable to shoot 1,000 yards — you know — macho stuff! The truth is, guys are using them to correct barrel drooping (and scopes not holding zero) issues a lot closer than that. They just don’t like to talk about it in public. But you guys know all this and don’t have to pay the price that the newbies pay! See what you know?

Clean that barrel

B.B. Pelletier is a proponent of never cleaning an airgun barrel — unless it needs it! When does BB say to clean a barrel? When accuracy drops off. Now, I would love to pretend I’m Mr Miyagi and that I was just testing my students, but the real truth is — reader Yogi recommended that I clean the barrel of the Beeman 900/Diana 10 target pistol with a brass brush and JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound! Good work, Yogi. I needed to be reminded of that. I will clean it before the next shooting session. See what you know?

You can shoot quietly at home with the right airgun

Think this is a well-known fact? Think again. The others go to the box store and choose a rifle from the three or four on the shelves. They choose it on power (velocity) and price. You know they do because that was once you and me. Then they discover that all that power brings on vibration, hard cocking, loud noise and horrible accuracy. Oh, you could teach them the artillery hold and cut the size of their groups dramatically, but even more so by showing them your Price-Point PCP. Your rifle is more powerful, more accurate and quieter than theirs. They complain that they don’t want to buy all the other stuff that your rifle needs to work and you teach them about 2,000 psi being just as capable as 3,000 psi, and what a hand pump can do. See what you know?

A powerful air pistol

“They” want an air pistol that’s just as powerful as their air rifle. All they know about are the few CO2 pistols they’ve seen at the discount store. You show them your TalonP pistol in .25 caliber and tell them that it’s 2-1/2 times more powerful than their .177 Gato Buzzalot breakbarrel. They say that’s fine, but can they get one that powerful that also fits in their pocket? Sure. Have them transport to Jupiter Station and the replicator there will build it for them.

You try to explain that with pneumatic and gas guns, the length of the barrel plays a huge factor in determining the velocity. They wonder why, because they have read that a Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum revolver produces the same energy as a 30-06 rifle (2,800 foot-pounds). And “they” can get one with a 3.5-inch barrel from the S&W Custom Shop. You ask if “they” have ever fired one of those revolvers and they start giggling. They haven’t, but they’ve watched several videos on You Tube of people shooting them.

Then you inform them that a 3.5-inch barreled revolver won’t get anywhere near the power that the standard 8.38-inch barrel will — probably less than half as much. They want to know how you know that and, because you are an airgunner, you can explain it to them in detail. See what you know?

Bullets have to fit the barrel

A buddy of yours just found an almost-full box of 130-grain .30-30 bullets. He sold his .30-30 ten years ago, but he has a 7.62X39 upper for his AR. He reloads for that caliber but these bullets turned out to be lousy in his gun. His five-shot groups at 100 yards are larger than 12 inches! You told him that the .308-caliber bullet for the .30-30 couldn’t possibly be accurate in the .310-inch bore of his upper. He asked why. Aren’t they both .308s? You explained that not all 7.62 mm cartridges are .308, just like a .38 Special is really smaller than .36 caliber and a .38-40 is really a .40 caliber.

You know this because you know all about the fit of the pellet to the bore. You even sort pellets by head size with the Pelletgage. See what you know?

A cheaper way to shoot at home

A guy at work told you he wants quieter .22 ammo so he can shoot his pistol in the basement without disturbing his family. You made him aware of the Beeman P17 and then turned him on to the 2-part resealing series for that pistol. He was able to buy a pistol and 500 pellets for less than what he would have to pay for a brick of .22 CB caps on Gun Broker. He’s shooting again very safely in his basement and having the time of his life! See what you know?

How did you know that?

Your brother-in-law showed you his aging Benjamin 392. He said it doesn’t work anymore and wondered if you would take a look at it. He said he has always pumped it 18-20 times for more power. The manual said to stop at 10 pumps, but that was just lawyer-talk to keep it safe. He knew what he was doing. The last time he pumped it he was watching TV and lost track of the count. But it had to be 25 pumps or more. When it didn’t fire he pumped it 10 more times, but nothing came out. So he brought it to you.

You asked him when was the last time he oiled it and he told you that nothing squeaks. The felt ring in front of the pump cup is bone dry. You partially disassembled the action and tapped the valve stem with a fat punch and a plastic hammer to release all the air. Then you oiled the pump cup and pumped the rifle 8 times and voila — it shot like new. All the while you did this you instructed your brother-in-law on the fine art of operating a multi-pump. See what you know?

Summary

You may not consider yourself to be an expert on airguns or on shooting in general, but through this blog and the comments we read every day, you really are!


Crosman Challenger PCP 10-meter target rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman Challenger PCP
Crosman Challenger PCP.

Edge Part 1
Edge Part 2
Edge Part 3
Edge Part 4
Edge Part 5
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 1
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 2
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 3
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 4
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 5
Airforce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 6
Challenger PCP: Part 1

This report covers:

  • Held for 11 years
  • H&N Finale Match High Speed.
  • Gamo Match
  • JSB Match Heavy Weight
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Shot count
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I check the velocity of the Chrosman Challenger youth 10-meter target rifle. In 2009, the last time I tested the rifle, I adjusted it to get lots of shots with H&N Finale Match High Speed pellets. They were 7-grain wadcutter pellets that are no longer available. Back then they averaged 545 f.p.s. for 116 shots on a fill. We will see where they are today — 11 years later.

Held for 11 years

By the way, I didn’t mention in in Part 1 but this rifle has been holding air since I last shot it 11 years ago! That’s for those who think that pneumatics have to leak.

The test

I filled the rifle to 2,000 psi and began with the pellet I had tuned it for last time — the H&N Finale Match High Speed. 

H&N Finale Match High Speed.

Ten pellets averaged 565 f.p.s. The low was 555 and the high was 570 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 15 f.p.s. I will use 555 f.p.s. as the cutoff velocity for the end of the test.

Gamo Match

Next up were Gamo Match pellets. Ten averaged 570 f.p.s. the spread ranged from a low of 566 to a high of 574 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 8 f.p.s.

JSB Match Heavy Weight

I tried JSB Match Heavy Weight pellets next. At 8.26 grains they are much heavier than either the Finale Match High Speed or the RWS R-10 Pistol pellets, both of which weigh 7 grains. But still they averaged 560 f.p.s. for 10 shots. And the spread was an incredible three feet per second — from 559 to 562 f.p.s.! And this was done without a regulator!

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The last pellet I tested was the old reliable RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. They averaged 581 f.p.s., with a range that went from 577 to 586 f.p.s. — a difference of 9 f.p.s.

Shot count

At this point in the test there were 44 shots on the fill. Four pellets had not registered on the chronograph. Now I started shooting blank shots with some Finale Match High Speed pellets at certain intervals.

Shot 51 went out at 574 f.p.s. Shot 60 was also 574. Shot 70 was 580 f.p.s. Shot 80 was also 580 f.p.s. Shot 90 went out at 570 f.p.s. And with shot 100 I started recording each shot’s velocity.

Shot………….Vel.
100…………..563
101…………..558
102…………..561
103…………..563
104…………..561
105…………..561
106…………..562
107…………..559
108…………..559
109…………..559
110…………..556
111…………..552 end

I said I would stop shooting when the velocity of H&N Finale Match High Speed pellets dropped below 555 f.p.s., because that was the lowest velocity recorded in this string for this pellet at the beginning. That means that we got 110 good shots from this Challenger on a single fill. In 2009 this pellet got 116 shots that averaged 545 f.p.s. Now, eleven years later the same pellet got 110 shots at an average of about 560 f.p.s. on a single fill. In 2009 the maximum spread for all shots was 29 f.p.s. In this test the maximum spread was 25 f.p.s. What I’m telling you is the Challenger is holding up surprisingly well over the 11 years it has been operated.

Discussion

Those who are afraid of going to precharged pneumatics should pay attention to this test. You are seeing a PCP perform over a timeframe of more than a decade.

Those who believe that a regulator is needed to get lots of shots, pay attention. The Challenger has no regulator, yet gets 110 shots within a 25 f.p.s. power band.

Those who wonder if a PCP can be made to work with a hand pump pay attention. We are getting 110 shots on a fill of only 2,000 psi.

Summary

I am now ready to test the accuracy of the Crosman Challenger PCP. I hope you are as excited as I at the opportunity.


BB’s bag of tricks

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Mahesh from India
  • Good advice
  • Do precharged pneumatics leak down?
  • Do Sheridan Supergrades leak?
  • What have we learned?
  • You don’t need to rebuild your springer!
  • Yes, ATF sealant is a miracle lubricant
  • Summary

I was supposed to do the velocity test of the Umarex Fusion 2 repeater today, but something nudged it out of place. Actually someONE!

I get emails from my Godfather website all the time and the questions are sometimes asked in such a way that I don’t understand them. So I answer something else — and not what the person wanted to know. If these people were blog readers there would be no problem, but they aren’t. So all the stuff that’s obvious to all of you is brand new to them.

Mahesh from India

Blog reader, Mahesh, tried to fill a used Crosman Challenger he had bought with a hand pump and was told by the seller that the hand pump he used — AND GOT 15 SHOTS WITH — was not adequate to fill that airgun. He should use a scuba tank. Guys — if the balloon fills with air it doesn’t matter what puts it in there!

Of course the hand pump is adequate to fill a Challenger PCP! The Challenger was designed to be filled by a hand pump! Either the seller didn’t know what he was talking about, or he knew he had sold a leaky airgun and was intentionally lying. Mahesh also said his airgun leaked down overnight after a fill. Now, if it does that at all (hold the air until it leaks out overnight) it will do it regardless of how the air is put in. I told him to put some silicone chamber oil in the fill port the next time he pumped up the gun and it will eventually hold air. He might have to do it several times, but when the leak takes overnight it’s NOT a bad seal. It’s a dry one. If it leaks out in an hour the seal is bad.

Then somebody on the blog told him he might need to cock the gun to fill it from empty with a hand pump. Thank you for telling him that, but that wasn’t his problem. His problem was his gun leaked down overnight.

Good advice

That piece of advice (cocking a pneumatic before filling with a pump) is good for many precharged pneumatics. Their hammers rest against the end of the valve stem under some spring tension, keeping the valve from sealing completely and allowing air to leak out if they are filled slowly with a hand pump. A scuba tank blasts air in so fast that it shuts the valve against the slight hammer pressure.

Do precharged pneumatics leak down?

Yes and no. Yes, some of them have very slow leaks. I once had a Daystate that leaked down over a week. It was resealed several times to no avail. When that happens the problem is probably not the seals. It’s leaking somewhere else. It can be an imperfection like a small pinhole in one of the metal parts or it can be an imperfection left over from machining. 

On Monday of this week I started a report on the Crosman Challenger PCP — the same rifle that Mahesh is having problems with. The last time I shot this rifle was 11 years ago in 2009, when I wrote a 5-part report about it. After Part 5 of that report, on November 25 of 2009, I set the rifle aside and have not touched it since. It was still holding air when I picked it up again last Friday to start writing the report. PCPs don’t all leak. 

Do Sheridan Supergrades leak?

Everyone should be familiar with the Sheridan Supergrade, which is really the Sheridan model A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle. It’s widely regarded as one of the finest, if not the very finest, multi-pump ever made. And, unless it is cocked, it will not hold air when pumped.

Sheridan Supergrade right
Sheridan’s Supergrade is the Rolls Royce of multi-pumps. It must be cocked before being pumped.

The last time I shot my Supergrade was sometime in June of 2018. That’s over 2 years ago. But when I put it away I filled it with two pumps and then slowly lowered the hammer with the bolt.  Today I cocked the rifle and pulled the trigger. It’s still holding, after all that time. After trying it once I oiled the pump head with Crosman Pellgunoil, cocked the rifle, pumped it twice and slowly lowered the hammer with the bolt. Pneumatics don’t all leak.

What have we learned?

We have learned that leaking is not common for pneumatics — for any of them. When they do leak it isn’t always their seals that are bad. Sometimes they just need to be lubricated so the seals are fresh and pliable. Lubricating the seals is a part of pneumatic maintenance.

We haver learned that some pneumatics have hammers that hold their firing valves open when the guns are uncocked. If these rifles are cocked, the valve can seal and it is possible to fill the reservoir slowly with a hand pump.

You don’t need to rebuild your springer!

I got an email from a guy who wanted to know where the instructions were for rebuilding a certain spring piston breakbarrel air rifle. Why? Well, he bought a new piston seal and wanted to install it. Why? Well — who knows? And that is my point. He probably wanted to do something with the airgun he had, but what did he hope to achieve? If you work on an FWB 124 there is a lot that can be done. If you work on a Wang Po Oompherator XDP, who knows where you are starting, so who knows where you can go?

You don’t need to rebuild every spring-piston airgun, regardless of what you see on You Tube.

“Well, So-and-So said he rebuilt his and he shot a half-inch group at 50 yards with it. I watched his video!”

Guys — did you ever hear of editing? I will not name any names but I remember an episode of American Airgunner in which the big bore we were “testing” leaked so fast that our takes could only be 25 seconds long. We would get set to film, fill the rifle and the instant the fill hose was disconnected and the guy ran out of the frame with the tank we started filming. You can add a lot of loud heavy metal music and quick cuts to that and make it seem like art, instead of the travesty that it is!

If you have to ask me for instructions on how to disassemble a spring-piston air rifle I have one piece of advice for you, “Keepa your hands off!” I share a lot of disassemblies with you in this blog and I know you are curious to see what is inside. But knowing how to shave your head with a straight razor doesn’t make you a brain surgeon! Spring piston airguns seldom need rebuilding when they are just months out of the box. Whatever happened to just breaking them in and learning to shoot them? I remember Gamo rifles that were horrible when new and delightful after 3,000-4,000 rounds had gone through them. I owned a Beeman C1 that I watched through the entire process — from new and stiff to becoming a smooth shooter.

Once a guy asked me to recommend an air rifle to him. I recommended something that was well-made and easy to cock and shoot. A month later he asked me why I didn’t recommend the Beeman Crow Magnum. I knew the guy was 5-feet 6-inches tall and weighed about 130 lbs. I didn’t think he would enjoy a breakbarrel rifle that took 40 percent of his body weight to cock. If you are an expert at reading between the lines, maybe you can figure that one out. I think I know and it rhymes with simoleon.

Yes, ATF sealant is a miracle lubricant

Boy — have I even been ’round the henhouse with this one! Some guy will contact me — afraid he has to have his CO2 rifle repaired and I tell him about automatic transmission fluid sealant. When I do one of three things happens. He blows me off as a whacko and goes in search of some valid technical advice, or he tries it and I never hear from him again because his problem was solved or he tries it and, to his utter amazement — it works! Those guys usually contact me again to let me know that it worked. I knew it would, but I’m glad they let me know. I have reports from a dozen or so success stories, plus several on this blog plus I have fixed 15-20 leaks of my own. 

transmission sealer
This stuff works on pneumatics as well as CO2 guns.

Summary

What this report has really been about is common sense, which my late aunt used to say, isn’t very common. Don’t just shoot your airguns. Maintain them! And don’t feel the need to totally redesign them before you know how they work!


Benjamin Fortitude PCP air rifle Gen2: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


Fortitude
The Generation II Benjamin Fortitude.

This report covers:

  • Fill to 3,000
  • Crosman Premier Heavys
  • Discussion 1
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • Where are we?
  • After lunch
  • Discussion 2
  • Noise
  • Trigger pull
  • More velocity testing to come
  • Summary

Watch out, spouses! The Great Enabler is about to strike!

Today’s report is so astonishing that if I hadn’t been there I probably would have my doubts. The velocity test took me two and one-half hours to complete! That’s because the .177 Benjamin Fortitude had so many shots on a single fill to 3,000 psi! Let’s get started.

Fill to 3,000

I filled the rifle to 3,000 psi as indicated on the gauge of my large carbon fiber tank. The gauge on the rifle also showed the pressure was 3,000 psi, and I know the gauge on my air tank is very accurate. I waited for 4 days after filling and the pressure still showed 3,000 psi on the rifle’s onboard gauge, so I know the rifle holds well.

Fortitude fill
The Fortitude gauge agrees with my tank gauge.

Crosman Premier Heavys

Since this is a Benjamin (Crosman) airgun, I started the test with 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers. The Pyramyd Air website, as well as a slip of paper Crosman puts in the box, says the rifle comes from the factory with the power adjuster turned up 4 turns, which is on the more powerful side, but not the most powerful. They say to expect up to 90 powerful shots.

The first ten 10.5-grain Premier Heavys averaged 726 f.p.s. The low was 719 and the high was 733 f.p.s. — a difference of 14 f.p.s. For a regulated airgun that is not that tight.  But keep an open mind because today’s report is a lesson in PCP operation.

At the average velocity the 10.5-grain Premier going 726 f.p.s. generates 12.29 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Remember, this is just the factory setting.

The next string of 10 shots averaged 722 f.p.s. and the spread went from a low of 717 to a high of 726 f.p.s. — a difference of 9 f.p.s. It seemed to me the velocity was falling. So I shot a third string of Premier Heavys that I will now show you.

Shot……..Vel.
1…………717
2…………711
3…………708
4…………720
5…………did not register
6…………718
7…………713
8…………691
9…………693
10………..680

After this third string I was prepared to say that the rifle had fallen off the regulator, but when I looked at the pressure gauge, it was still 2,800 psi! So I shot another string of 10. They looked like this.

Shot……..Vel.
1…………718
2…………687 Waited 20 seconds before this shot
3…………714 Waited 30 seconds before this shot and all the rest
4…………704
5…………720
6…………717
7…………702
8…………714
9…………681
10………..718

Discussion 1

The average for this string of 10 was 706 f.p.s. What’s happening is the regulator is taking a long time to fill — AND, the reg and valve are both breaking in! I will continue to shoot the Fortitude and wait 30 seconds between each shot for the remainder of the test, until I say different. We have now seen 40 shots with Premier Heavys — let’s see what other pellets do.

RWS Hobby

The 7-grain RWS Hobby pellet averaged 867 f.p.s. from the Fortitude. At that velocity it generates 11.69 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The spread went from a low of 854 to a high of 876 f.p.s. That is a 22 f.p.s. spread.

JSB Exact Heavy

The next pellet I tried was the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy. They averaged 743 f.p.s. with a 12 f.p.s. spread from 737 to 749 f.p.s. The average energy is 12,68 foot-pounds. I am still waiting 30 seconds between each shot.

Where are we?

The Fortitude has now fired 60 shots. The onboard pressure gauge reads 2,400 psi remains, so there should be a lot more shots. I therefore switched back to the 10.5-grain Premiers Heavys to continue. 

Shots 61 to 70 with Premier Heavys averaged 724 f.p.s. The low was 715 and the high was 735 f.p.s. — a difference of 20 f.p.s. That’s a total of 70 shots on the first fill. We are not done yet!

The next string of Premier Heavys averaged 718 f.p.s. The low was 707 f.p.s. and the high was 721 f.p.s. — a difference of 14 f.p.s.

The next string of Heavys averaged 717 f.p.s. with an 8 f.p.s. spread from 711 to 719 f.p.s. The string after that averaged 714 f.p.s.with a spread from 704 to 723 f.p.s. I thought surely at 100 shots on the fill the gun was out of air. But I continued.

The next string averaged 706 f.p.s. with a low of 691 and a high of 713 f.p.s. For sure the rifle had to be out of air by this point except that highest velocity was the last shot — number 110 since filling the rifle. So I continued.

The next string of 10 shots averaged 715 f.p.s. The low was 709 f.p.s and the high was 720 f.p.s. The string after that averaged 718 f.p.s. with a low of 710 and a high of 726 f.p.s. The last shot — number 130 since the rifle was filled — registered 723 f.p.s.

The next string of 10 shots, also Crosman Premier Heavys, averaged 718 f.p.s. The low was 704 f.p.s. and the high was 727 f.p.s. — a difference of 23 f.p.s.

At this point I had been shooting the rifle and recording the shots for a solid 2 hours 10 minutes. It was lunchtime and I hoped when I returned that this velocity test would be finished soon. Oh, and by the way, I ran out of Crosman Premier Heavys!

After lunch

I stopped for about 50 minutes for lunch. When I returned I continued the test, but my Crosman Premier Heavys were gone. So I switched to JSB Exact Heavys that had averaged 743 f.p.s. on the 6th string of this test. Let’s look at what they did now — starting with shot number 141 since the test began.

Shot……..Vel.
1…………790
2…………789 waited just 15 seconds before every shot that follows
3…………790
4…………792
5…………790
6…………778
7…………787
8…………778
9…………783
10………..776

Discussion 2

Why did I start waiting 15 seconds between shots instead of 30? Because the rifle was ready sooner. It indicates the regulator and valve are breaking in. Where I had to wait twice as long before, now the time is cut in half. Also the rifle does seem to perform more consistently with these pure lead pellets better than with the harder Premiers.

The average for this string is 785 s.p.s. That is 42 f.p.s. FASTER than the average for the same pellet 80 shots before!!! But the next string is the real telling point.

Shot……..Vel.
1…………776
2…………767
3…………766 started waiting 30 seconds between shots from this point on
4…………765
5…………761
6…………751
7…………750
8…………746
9…………736
10………..734

It should be obvious from the steady drop in velocity on this string that the Fortitude is now off the regulator and in need of a fill. But that last shot with 10.34-grain JSBs is just 9 f.p.s. slower than the average from the same pellet on the 6th string. I call that 160 effective and powerful shots on one fill. Over a total of 140 shots (with two strings of other pellets included) Crosman Premier Heavys varied from a low of 680 f.p.s (shot number 30) to a high of 735 f.p.s (shot number 61). That is a difference of 55 f.p.s. 

When the last shot was fired the gun gauge registered 800 psi. On the next fill my tank gauge agreed with that exactly.

Fortitude fill
When shot 160 was fired this is what the onboard gauge read.

Noise

The Fortitude is QUIET! I have to rate it a 1.6 on the Pyramyd Air 5-point scale. This is an airgun most people will be able to shoot without disturbing their neighbors — at least at this 12 foot-pound level.

Trigger pull

For the first 20 shots I thought the Fortitude had a single stage trigger. Then I felt a very subtle stop in the pull, and I got curious. What the Fortitude trigger does is pull heavy through stage one — just like the expensive Geisselle trigger on my AR. But then it stops against a definite wall. You have to feel for the wall. Bubba will miss it every time. But it is there.

Stage two has one spot of creep in it sometimes and then it breaks. Other times I don’t feel the creep. Like the valve and regulator, the trigger is also breaking in. I think when I get to the accuracy test I will be able to control it well.

Stage one stopped at 4 lbs. 8 oz. Stage two broke at 4 lbs. 15 oz consistently. In think I can work with this trigger.

More velocity testing to come

I still have not adjusted the Fortitude all the way up or down. I had hoped to get that in today, but this test took so long there wasn’t time.

Summary

I am getting excited about this air rifle! I think today’s test shows two things very clearly. First — if you want to shoot a PCP and just use a hand pump this might be your airgun. It does manage air remarkably well. As a regulated gun it isn’t too consistent, but both the reg and valve need more time in use to say that. When it is full broken in I would expect a velocity variation at this power level of 15-20 f.p.s. for the Premier Heavy pellet.

And, for those wanting quiet airguns, I can hardly think of one that’s quieter. Maybe the sound will increase when I dial the velocity up, but we shall see.


How the Price-Point PCP (PPP) has changed the face of the airgun world

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gauntlet
Umarex’s Gauntlet was the first PPP to be announced, but several others beat it to the marketplace.

This report covers:

  • Gauntlet dropped!
  • For Hank
  • For the manufacturers
  • What is a PPP?
  • Cost
  • Required features
  • Nice features to have
  • Caliber
  • ALL BOATS ARE FLOATED!
  • Compressors
  • Other PCPs
  • Sig
  • AirForce Airguns
  • On and on
  • Summary

Gauntlet dropped!

When Umarex announced the new Gauntlet air rifle the savvy airgunning world was stunned. A precharged pneumatic (PCP) that was a repeater, was shrouded with an active silencer, had an adjustable trigger and stock, was accurate and came with a regulator — all for less than $300. They named it appropriately, because it was a huge gauntlet to drop on the airgun community. I’m sure this is exactly what Umarex had in mind, though the particulars of how it has and still is unfolding I’m sure have been as much of a surprise to them as they have been to others.

For Hank

This report is written for reader Vana2 (Hank) who asked me some time ago to report on the impact the price point PCP (PPP) has had on the airgun market. He was wise to ask for such a report, because the impact on the market has been even greater than I think those who started it even imagined it would be. It has literally kick-started PCP sales — taking them to a point that was never before thought possible. The rising tide that floats all boats is impacting airgun sales everywhere, and not just the guns.

For the manufacturers

Every so often I address the airgun manufacturers, and I believe today’s topic is one that applies. As you shall soon see, this trend goes way beyond just a type of airgun!

I coined the phrase price-point-PCP at this year’s SHOT Show, where I saw several new offerings from different companies. It was like the industry had a meeting and everyone decided to go in the same direction — only no meeting was held and these guys would never reveal their plans to each other. But the Gauntlet was announced in 2017, and that announcement green-lighted the drag race that ensued. Umarex ended up being just one of many to come to a party they had created.

What is a PPP?

Let’s get this out right now, because there are companies out there that are off the airgun grid — so to speak. They are selling airguns without having a clue about the business they are in. And ironically, those same airguns are capable of bringing them much greater profit than the firearms many are also selling, but they haven’t clicked to that yet. So, for those who are riding in the back of the bus, or just standing on the side of the road with their thumbs out — here are the rules.

Cost

A PPP is priced at less than $300. Go even one dollar over that number and there will be talk that you won’t care to hear. Will that ever change? Of course it will. But, when chef is serving filet mignon, it’s not the time to ask for a hamburger. Get with the program or start wearing bib overalls without a shirt, so we can tell who you are.

Required features

Sound moderation
Accurate
Repeater with a single-shot capability getting extra credit

Nice features to have

Many shots
Good adjustable trigger
Fill no higher than 3,000 with 2,000 scoring extra credit
Adjustable stock

Filling above 3,000 psi is a big negative.

Anything else a designer can think of will be nice. Sling swivel anchors, M1913 rails and so on are always a plus. As long as you are spending $40,000 for the special synthetic stock mold, just add the rail — or at least design the mold with inserts so it can be added later.

Caliber

Okay, this is for those who really have no clue about the airgun market. Airguns come in 4 smallbore calibers — .177, .20. .22 and .25. Today the .20 caliber is not that popular — build them and die. BUT — if you make an airgun that supports caliber swapping, by all means offer a .20. Just don’t build a gun dedicated to that caliber.

The other three calibers are a must. In the world of airguns the .177 caliber is the most popular, by far, but in the PPP line, where power is greater, the .22 and .25 are just as important. Don’t fail to offer a .177, but offer the other two as well.

ALL BOATS ARE FLOATED!

Okay, set the PPP aside for now. Let’s talk the rest of the airgun industry. And, where better to begin than with the compressor? PPPs need compressed air, and the age of going to the dive shop has ended.

Compressors

Ten years ago only rich kids had high pressure air compressors — the same kids who owned ponies in their youth. Back then compressors were more than $3,000, and less than reliable. The rest of us schlepped our tanks to the dive shop or paintball store and cursed the dark side. Not no more!

You plan to get a PCP, figure that at some point you will also get a way to keep it filled. You may start with a hand pump, which is where the guns that take a 2,000 psi fill come in. But if you go with 3,000 psi, you’ll probably be interested in a compressor.

Like June, cheap compressors are busting out all over! The Air Venturi Nomad II is capable of filling a rifle to 4,500 psi (not a tank) and it’s under $650. I have one — just haven’t tested it yet. The Benjamin Traveler compressor now appears to be coming out at under $700, too. I am also eagerly awaiting the chance to test the new AirForce E-Pump that has already started shipping. This one is pre-sold to many buyers, probably because it has been tested for the past 5 years and everyone knows how robust it must be. And it’s under $850!

I use my Air Venturi Compressor all the time. You may remember that I bought the one Pyramyd had been using in-house, so it had some time on it when I got it. It’s still strong and fast, and it’s just $1,300. The days of paying over $3,000 for a compressor that was not that reliable are over.

Other PCPs

Nova Vista is an airgun company based in Macau, China. They are the ones who invented the Air Venturi Seneca Aspen that I’m testing for you. I’m also testing a straight PCP called the Liberty that they make for a firearms company. This will be a feature article in Firearms News, but won’t be in this blog. That rifle is priced just $30 above the PPP limit, yet it has most of the features and quality of a Benjamin Marauder! The firearms company doesn’t seem to know what a good thing they have. Crosman should be pleased, because if Pyramyd were to carry it, the Marauder would have a serious competitor.

My point is — here is a Chinese manufacturer striking out on their own. No buyers to steer them to what people “want” means they get to play with the big boys and reap the benefits of making their own good decisions. That hasn’t happened before, but I see the era of the PPP is making it possible today.

Sig

And then there is Sig Sauer — a 500 lb. gorilla in the firearms world that decided to play the airgun game the right way — by hiring people from the industry who actually know something about airguns. The ASP20 is their first clean sheet of paper, and I know the other companies are wondering if they will play in the PPP game. When I was up touring their factory in July they said they were exploring PCPs. I sort of doubt they will play in the PPP side, because they want room to innovate and the PPP market doesn’t have a lot of room. But, boy howdy, after seeing the ASP20, is there anything they can’t do?

AirForce Airguns

Whaaaat? BB — AirForce doesn’t make a PPP.

I know they don’t, but remember that rising tide? AirForce is working overtime to build and ship their lines of sporting airguns just as fast as they can. June really is busting out all over!

On top of that, they are like a python who has swallowed a telephone pole, with regards to the RAW rifle line! By that I mean they have been going full bore all year to get the RAW rifles ready for production (they were made in batches previously) while keeping the quality at the same high level. I have been watching from the sidelines, which they generously let me do — sometimes.

On and on

I could go on and on at this point, talking about this and that. Because the whole market has awoken. You’ve got new scopes, new lookalike airguns, new big bores, new pellets, ad nauseum. And I think it was the PPP that made a lot of it happen.

Summary

The point is, the PPP has been like a spark that has kindled a fire that was just waiting to start. The airgun market is hot and it’s getting hotter all the time. And this time it isn’t politics that’s pulling the carriage — it’s new toys. That can’t be bad for anyone — I don’t care who you are. I’m glad you asked this question, Hank!


Seneca Double Shot air shotgun: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Seneca Double Shot
Air Venturi’s Seneca Double Shot air shotgun.

This report covers:

  • Fast second shot
  • Let’s review
  • Sub-1 crossbow
  • Reality of bow hunting
  • Description
  • How many shots?
  • What it shoots
  • Is this for you?
  • Summary

I usually just review the products and leave my personal opinions out — or I try to weave them in under the radar. Not today. I first saw today’s subject airgun, the Seneca Double Shot air shotgun at the 2018 SHOT Show. I looked at it and then showed it to Rossi Morreale on American Airgunner, all the while wondering — WHY? What possible use is there for a double-barreled air shotgun? Then Val Gamerman, the president of Pyramyd Air, told me. The extra barrel gives you a fast second shot.

Fast second shot

That second barrel gives you a quick second shot at a deer or other large game animal, when you are using Air Venturi Air Bolts. Nuff said! That is a real reason for owning a double-barreled air shotgun.

Let’s review

Before I describe this airgun let’s look at some past articles that have brought us to this point. First there was my review of the Seneca Wing Shot air shotgun. There are just two parts to that review because I treated the report of the Air Venturi Air Bolts as a separate subject. But, if you read that report you’ll see that the Wing Shot was at the heart of it.

We learned that the Air Bolt is an arrow (or bolt, as they are called by crossbow shooters) that fires much faster than any crossbow can. And they are accurate. Rossi Morreale shot a Robin Hood at the 2016 Texas Airgun Show while sighting in his Wing Shot for an upcoming pig hunt. That’s where the point of an arrow hits an arrow in the target and splits it.

Seneca Air Bolt Robin Hood
While sighting in his Wing Shot for a pig hunt, Rossi Morreale shot this Robin Hood (arrow hitting the base of another arrow already in the target).

Sub-1 crossbow

And there is one more report that you should consider. I also tested and later bought the Sub-1 crossbow. I initially did it because my experience with the Air Bolts compelled me to learn what a true crossbow was like. And the Sub-1 isn’t just any crossbow. It is the most accurate crossbow on the market today, with the possibility of shooting three bolts into a group that’s smaller than one inch at 100 yards! Not that I ever did it, but it has been done.

I found the Sub-1 extremely accurate, but at a cost of about double that of the Wing Shot. It isn’t as powerful, but with a crossbow, power isn’t everything. The bolts they fire are so heavy (400+ grains) that when they hit they keep on going — right into the boiler room of a large game animal, if they strike in the right place.

Reality of bow hunting

With an arrow, the animal has time to move after it hears the shot. This move is instinctive and triggered by sound. The Sub-1 puts arrows out at around 350 f.p.s. The Wing Shot is about 200+ f.p.s. faster. Even so, it isn’t so fast that the target doesn’t have time to move. Stealth and patience are still the name of the game when hunting with any kind of bow — even an airbow!

Description

Okay, enough background. Let’s get to it. What’s this Double Shot like?

The Double Shot is a side by side double barreled precharged pneumatic shotgun that weighs 8.55 lbs. That’s heavy for a shotgun, so if you are a scattergunner there will be some getting-used-to time ahead. They claim a velocity of 450 f.p.s. with Air Bolts, so the gun has been tamed from the Wing Shot to get more shots per fill.

Seneca Double Shot muzzles
Seneca Double Shot muzzles.

There is a single trigger, so the selector mechanism on top of the gun lets you switch between barrels. The action is cocked by a bolt on the right side of the action that is pulled straight to the rear each time you want to shoot. So, to fire both barrels you set the switch to either the left or right barrel, cock the gun and fire, then switch barrels with the selector, cock and fire again. With practice it takes seconds.

Seneca Double Shot selectors
The selector for which barrel fires is on top of the receiver. You can rotate either knurled knob to select to barrel and a line (arrow) tells you which barrel is going to fire. This photo also shows the knurled sliding breeches for loading balls or shotshells.

The gun has a pretty wood buttstock and forearm that many people commented on at the SHOT Show. It looks like a fine English double with its straight buttstock that has no hint of a pistol grip. It also handles like one, though the weight does slow it down.

There is a brass bead up front for rough sighting

How many shots?

The specs say you get up to 5 powerful shots per fill. That would agree with what I saw from the Wing Shot. However, since this is a double barreled gun, why not just go with 4 shots per fill? That will help you with air management, because its twice through both barrels. Naturally there is an air gauge in the forearm to tell you where the fill is. And this gun fills to 3,000 psi, so a survivalist can fill it with a hand pump. The rest of you may recoil in disbelief when I say that, but you have to remember — this gun isn’t for plinking.

What it shoots

The Double Shot is a smoothbore airgun, so it is ideally suited to shoot shot. Each barrel has a removable choke that’s taken off to load Air Bolts and shoot round balls, but put on for shotshells. You can also add the special longer and tighter 12.2mm chokes that Pyramyd Air provides that are supposed to give 10 percent tighter groups. I may have to try them for you.

Shot is available in a variety of loads that include a long shotshell loaded with number 8 shot, a long shell loaded with number 6 shot and an empty shell you can load with whatever you prefer. The specs say to expect up to 1,130 f.p.s. with shot.

The Double Shot also shoots .50-caliber round balls up to a velocity of 600 f.p.s. Accuracy will be less than with an Air Bolt, but out to 30 yards it ought to do the job. I will test it for you.

And of course the Double Shot also fires Air Bolts at up to 450 f.p.s. I think that is it’s strong suit, but a hunter will probably want to use all three types of ammo in this most versatile hunting airgun.

Is this for you?

Some of you have patiently read today’s report, all the while saying to yourselves, “This is not for me.” I get that. Air shotguns are not for every airgunner and this double barreled one certainly isn’t. It’s not a bragging-rights airgun, though you will certainly surprise and maybe even shock your shooting friends when you bring it out.

No, this airgun is for hunters — hunters of larger game, mostly. I’m going to test all the features, except wingshooting that I’m horrible at.

Summary

We are looking at a big bore airgun that’s not for everybody. It’s also unique in the airgun world. This is a step outside everybody’s comfort zone, and I am looking forward to it.


Piston seals: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Updates
  • Early leather seals
  • What’s next?
  • Now that you understand…
  • No magic
  • Don’t be depressed!
  • Leather piston seals
  • The better way
  • It’s all the same
  • Leather’s shortcoming
  • Summary

Updates

Pyramyd Air has shipped me the replacement Fortitude, so I will be restarting that report soon. Leapers is sending me a micro dot sight that I showed you recently. I wanted that to test on the Beeman P1 pistol that I stopped testing months ago, but now I also want to put it on the Chaser pistol and perhaps on a rifle or two. And yes, GunFun1, I am going to test the Gauntlet at 50 yards with the tightened shroud/barrel.

But today I want to talk about something different. As you are aware, this blog gets many new readers all the time. Often when they come in they have a question about a topic I have addressed in the past. If their question is easy to answer I will often just give them the links to the past report — if I can find it. But sometimes their question isn’t so easy to answer, and when that happens and I know that I have many other new readers who might perhaps benefit from it, I will write a special blog. Today is such a day.

Reader Arvizu joined us two days ago. He had some questions about various things, including the following statement.

“ I noticed, too, that the seal plays an important role to define performance (sometimes small variations in diameter makes the difference). I would like to clarify that this is only my appreciation and limited experience with airguns.

I would really appreciate an article from you, with your vast experience in this regards talking about this topic.”

I gave him several links to past articles, but I could not get his comment out of my mind. So today I would like to address the importance of piston seals.

Let’s start with a look at a popular toy that many of us have played with — the toy popper gun!

popper 1
Pull the handle back and the cork is drawn into the muzzle by the string that’s attached. If the string is too long you can just stuff the cork in the muzzle yourself. Push the handle forward and the dowel it’s attached to pushes air in front of it to pop the cork out of the “gun.”

popper 2
You can see the length of the dowel at the bottom.

The popper toy works exactly like a spring-piston airgun, except it has no piston seal. Just the close fit of the wood dowel inside the larger wood tube compresses enough air to pop the cork.

Early leather seals

If that is clear, the rest will be easy. You don’t need a wood dowel that’s as large as the compression chamber. A steel rod can be much smaller and it only has to “push” a small “head” that’s sized to the chamber.

simple compression chamber
This simple compression chamber and “piston” works exactly like the popper toy.

My graphic is interesting until you realize that the air, once compressed, has nowhere to go. Let’s add an outlet that we’ll call the air transfer port.

air transfer port
Now that we know how the air is compressed, it’s easy to see that it exits through the air transfer port.

What’s next?

Next we put something in front of the escaping air, like the cork in the popper. The popper pops when the cork is overcome by air pressure and can’t remain inside the wood tube any longer. That’s similar to what happens when a pellet blocks the air from an airgun air transfer port.

pellet blocks port
Now we have put a barrel in front of the air transfer port and blocked the escaping air with a pellet. The pressure will built in the compression chamber until the pellet has to move.

Now that you understand…

So the wooden dowel is sufficient to compress air to a point. And the “head” on a steel rod will do the same thing. If we put a seal on a steel piston instead of just a head the extra weight of the piston will give us more force for compressing the air. But, here is the important thing — the amount of air doesn’t change, regardless of what compresses it!

A wooden dowel will compress air but will also allow some air to escape around the sides of the dowel. A “head” with no piston body will compress air better, as long as its seal remains tight against the walls of the chamber. But the head alone may be too light to compress air beyond a certain point. If the pellet refuses to move we could end up with the sealed head resting against a bubble of compressed air inside the compression chamber.

By adding a heavy piston body we are adding force to the moving piston seal, ensuring that the tiny lead pellet cannot withstand the force of the compressed air behind it. But the piston body compresses no more air than the piston head, if the other things (diameter of the compression chamber and length of the stroke) are the same. And that fact, readers, is important to dwell on.

No magic

There is no magic in a piston seal. It can only compress the amount of air that’s in front of it. If you replace a mediocre seal with the best seal possible you will get some improvement, but how much? Let’s say the mediocre seal compresses 90 percent of the air in front of it and the best seal compresses 98 percent. What, then, is the difference? Eight percent!

And we know from experiments done in the 1970s by the father/son team of Cardews, that the pellet produces roughly a third of the potential energy that’s driving it. Many things like friction and the energy loss due to translation from momentum to compression diminish the force that’s generated. What I’m saying is a 100-pound mainspring can produce no more than about 33 pounds of energy at the muzzle. The actual amount, however, is usually far below even that, with the 100 pound spring producing about 20 pounds of energy maximum at the muzzle. So, an 8 percent gain in potential power becomes no more than a 3 percent gain at the muzzle and probably less.

Don’t be depressed!

Now that you understand what we are dealing with you can cheer up. There have been major advances in piston seals in the past 40 years. We don’t have time to look at all of them today, but we can certainly get started.

Leather piston seals

Leather piston seals have been around for centuries. The air pumps that filled airguns in the 1700s had either no seal or a leather seal. If they had no seal, they were worked-in by hand to the point that the fit between the steel pump rod (which served as the piston, as well) and the pump chamber was perfect. Just oil the pump rod and it worked without the hint of noise. I have operated several of these centuries-old hand pumps and could not feel anything beyond air being compressed. But hand fitting like this took countless hours to achieve, so a better way was created.

The better way

The better way was to attach a pad of leather to the end of the piston. Make it slightly larger than the bore it was going to work in and then oil it thoroughly and work it back and forth many times. In far less time than a steel piston seal takes to work in, the leather seal conforms to the inside of the pump walls and makes an airtight seal. As long as the leather is kept pliant with oil, this kind of seal works very well.

test fixture
Dennis Quackenbush made this pump and reservoir with gauge so he and I could test the efficiency of vintage hand pumps.

antique hand pump
The pump Dennis made doesn’t look that different than this real antique airgun pump.

It’s all the same

Don’t think that the seals in these hand pumps are any different than leather airgun piston seals. They’re not. They do the same thing and work the same way. Pistons are pistons and leather is leather. It needs to be supple to seal and when it is, it seals very well.

Leather’s shortcoming

A leather piston seal can last for a century and even longer, all the time doing what it was designed to do. But leather does have a weakness. It doesn’t like to get dry or hot. And spring piston airguns get very hot. They can get up over 1,000 degrees, F for a millisecond or two when the gun fires. Only because the heat doesn’t last long do leather seals work at all. However, as the guns become more powerful, the peak heat rises to the point that it starts burning the edges of the leather seal. First it dries out all the oil through combustion (detonations) and then the leather starts getting hard and crumbly. Eventually such a seal will be reduced to powder if you persist.

The leather seal in a Diana model 27 that shoots a .22 caliber pellet at 475 f.p.s. may last for half a million shots, while a Diana 45 that shoots the same pellet at 850 f.p.s. may only last 10,000 shots — and only that long if it is kept oiled regularly. Leather piston seals have their limits.

Summary

We are not finished by a long shot. We still have to look at PTFE seals, older synthetic seals, newer synthetic seals, parachute seals, the fit of the seal to the chamber and more. I don’t know if I can finish this discussion in one more report or if there has to be a Part 3. We shall see.