Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sen-X AR-6
Sen_X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Repeater
  • “Sights”
  • Built-in laser
  • Accurate
  • Robin Hoods!
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we get to see the AR-6 crossbow in action. I have to say — for a non-airgun this little crossbow is one of the most intriguing shooting platforms to come along in the past 20 years!


Besides being essentially a pistol the AR-6 is a repeating crossbow — an oddity in itself. The box that sits on top of the bow holds the arrows and the rest of the mechanism that allows it to be a repeater. And, in about 100 shots thus far, there have been no problems with the bow’s reliability.

I did have one problem with the repeating magazine though, and it was my fault. In the beginning when I was first getting used to the bow I didn’t watch the spring that pushes down on the arrows and I bent it while closing the magazine cover. So I had to re-bend it to press on the arrows. Now the cover pops open when I shoot with 6 arrows loaded. It doesn’t happen with just 5 arrows loaded, so that’s all I load. I will say that I loaded six arrows in the video that’s coming, but there were really only 5. So, if you get one of these, watch that magazine spring so you don’t bend it like I did!


The crossbow really only has a front sight. I use the top of the silver spring latch on the magazine cover for the rear sight. It may sound crude, but it does work.

The “sights” are nothing to speak of, yet I find I can align them with precision to accomplish my objective.

Built-in laser

The AR-6 does come with a built-in red laser, but in bright sunlight it is invisible. There is also a short Picatinney rail on the front of the bow just forward of the front sight.  It would hold a dot sight very well. Now — where can I find a good adjustable dot sight?


This little crossbow is accurate! This time out I shot at the target bag from 10 meters from the start. In the video I say it’s 25 feet but I went out and measured it with a laser rangefinder and its over 10 meters. You’ll see where I shot  in the video. And I began to get groups of reasonable proportions. This shooting is all offhand, so shaky old BB is the biggest variable.

 AR-6 group
From 10 meters here are 4 arrows in a group that’s just a little larger than my hand.

 AR-6 bullseye
This is my first bullseye. Yes, there is a fourth arrow about 4 inches away that I cropped out.

Robin Hoods!

Until this day I had been outshooting my neighbor, Denny. Then something happened in the middle of our session. Denny got real serious. His facial expression changed to one of concentration that told me my glory days were about to end.

Sometimes success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s fine to theorize about Robin Hood shots where one arrow hits another at the target. But it quite another thing when it happens. This AR-6 is so darned accurate that it’s come very close for me a number of times. When Denny got serious, he started doing it, too. Let me show you.

 AR-6 Denny group
When Denny got serious about his shooting, my arrows were put in jeopardy! Maybe even double jeopardy!

Okay, enough talk. Let’s see how this crossbow shoots!


This was only the third time I was out with the crossbow, not counting last year at the Pyramyd Air Cup. As you can see, I’m just getting used to the AR-6, and already I have to think about shooting at different targets. Otherwise I risk damaging arrows.


Oh, there are lots more reports to come. I just enjoy shooting this quiet little bow, so I’m going to search for reasons to use it. This is like throwing darts, except the distance is greater. If a guy owned a sports bar, this would be a real crowd-pleaser!

Dressing up the Bug Buster

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Why a sidewheel?
  • Does a Bug Buster need a sidewheel?
  • However…
  • P.O.I. scope rings
  • What to do?

Today I will tell you about an accessory for the BugBuster 3-12X32 scope — the new sidewheel add-on for all Bug Buster scopes. It will fit any of them, but it’s most useful on the most powerful scope, which is the new 3-12. That’s because the more magnification, the farther out you can determine range. I reported on this new accessory in my SHOT Show 2018 report — Part 5.

This item is so new that Pyramyd Air doesn’t even have it cataloged or in stock yet. But it’s coming soon. It attaches directly to the adjustment knob on any Bug Buster scope that has a SWAT (Side Wheel Adjustable Turret). The early Bug Busters adjusted parallax at the objective lens, so you do need the sidewheel adjustment knob on the left side of the scope for this to work.

Bug Buster sidewheel
The new sidewheel is the first one that’s been available for a Bug Buster.

The sidewheel slips over the existing parallax adjustment knob — there is nothing to disassemble. Two Allen screws, one on either side of the wheel hub, press in on the adjustment knob. Once it is attached correctly, it’s part of the scope.

Why a sidewheel?

Some of you may be wondering what a sidewhewel is all about. It comes from the sport of field target, where the rifles with their scopes often weigh over 12 pounds. And the scopes are typically very long. Since you adjust the parallax every time you encounter a new target (to get the distance, for trajectory adjustment), competitors found it difficult to hold their rifle with one hand and reach way out to the objective lens with the other. The sidewheel makes that easier.

Ironically, tactical firearm shooters like snipers have benefitted from this airgun invention, and now their scopes also have sidewheels. But airgunners had them first. Snipers don’t determine range with their scopes the way airgunners do. They use laser rangefinders for that. That way is far more accurate and their bullets have a much flatter trajectory than our pellets. Tactical snipers don’t normally shoot with the same precision as a field target competitor. I say normally, because those thousand-yard sniper shots are indeed just as precise, and the mile-plus shots are even moreso. However, most snipers are just shooting a few hundred yards and consider any solid connection with the target good enough.

Rangefinders aren’t permitted in field target, so we still range by focusing the parallax adjustment. It is a crude form of coincidence rangefinding where we determine distance by focusing one image. Military optical rangefinders have two lenses placed a known distance apart. When they bring the two images together a scale gives them the range. You can do the same thing with one scope, and a geometry exercise known as triangulation. Surveyors used to do it all the time.

The placement of the parallax adjustment at the side of the scope instead of at the end just makes it more convenient, and the large circumference of the wheel allows us to make visible distance distinctions, yard by yard.

Does a Bug Buster need a sidewheel?

Sidewheels are for long scopes mounted on heavy guns. The scopes are long because to use them for rangefinding you need to be able to focus on a very small object like a blade of grass or a leaf stem. At 55 yards (the maximum distance of a field target range is 50 meters) you can’t see a blade of grass with much less than 40 magnifications, and 50 are even better. Scopes with that kind of power are big and long.

The Bug Buster goes up to 12 magnifications, so how is it going to work at 55 yards? Well, it isn’t. And it isn’t intended to, because a Bug Buster is not a field target scope — at least not for serious competition. Maybe in the Hunter class or a fun shoot a Bug Buster will work, but rangfinding isn’t used then.


Hunters will enjoy having such an easy way of focusing their scopes in the field. Who cares if they hit their targets a half-pellet off the mark? I will show you what I mean in an upcoming report.

P.O.I. scope rings

This is another new item that Pyramyd doesn’t have cataloged yet. We saw these with Weaver/Picatinny bases last year, but in 2018 Leapers is bringing them out with 11mm bases. The P.O.I. (Precision Optics Interface — did you guess wrong?) ring is made with extra care that the inner ring is exactly round. The movable clamping jaw is guided by two pins that keep it square to the base of the ring.

Bug Buster P.O.I. rings
P.O.I. rings are made with precision.

Bug Buster P.O.I. package
The package has the best information.

Each ring contains a vertical scope stop pin that screws down for locking the ring to a rifle. I’ve never seen a 2-piece set of rings that had a stop pin in both rings. This allows you to swap the rings fore and aft to make small left-right adjustments to the alignment of the scope. Scope rings are not perfectly align-bored. Sometimes exchanging the rear ring with the front ring will move the point of impact sideways just a little. It’s just luck if it works, but we do it. Having a stop pin in each ring means that either one can be used as the rear ring, since the scope stop hole is usually located at the rear of the spring tube.

What to do?

I had planned to mount the scope to my Disco Double for a test of both the sidewheel and rings, but then I had a better idea. Can you guess what it was?

I’ll give you a clue. It’s tomorrow’s report.

Sig Sauer Spartan BB pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig Spartan BB pistol
Sig Sauer Spartan BB pistol offers a lot of pistol at a budget price.

This report covers:

  • Sig firearms
  • The airgun
  • Manual safety
  • Full blowback
  • Grips
  • Finish
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Magazine
  • Light rail
  • Evaluation

Today we begin looking at Sig Sauer’s latest BB pistol, the Spartan. It’s a faithful copy of their Spartan 1911 firearm, which has upgraded features that put it ahead of many production 1911s. And it’s made in Japan.

Sig firearms

I will say this about Sig firearms — when they decide to make something they don’t cut corners. I never had much contact with them in the past, but since they have started making airguns I have been giving their firearms a look, as well. I am a died-in-the-wool conservative when it comes to firearms. Don’t try to sell me on a process like metal injection molding (MIM) unless it performs better than machining in some way other than just the cost to manufacture.

Some newer readers may not remember the struggle I had with my Taurus PT1911, but until I got rid of the MIM extractor and fitted a machined one from Wilson Combat, it was an unreliable dog. You can read about it here. As a result of that debacle, I pay attention to the construction of new firearms, because there is a lot of cheap manufacturing going on. But at Sig, firearms don’t get out the door unless they are right. Or, at least that is the impression I have from shooting them, examining them and reading about them.

Sure they cost more money, but what difference does that make? If I am buying a firearm for defense, I want it to be right — period! End of report! If you want to save money, cut a slot in the top of your head and become a piggy bank.

The Sig Sauer Spartan, with its stainless steel slide, retails for pennies under $1,400, with street prices all over the place; some as low as $800. That puts it in the same category as other fine production 1911s like Kimber. This is a Series 80 pistol that has a firing pin safety to prevent accidental discharge in case the loaded weapon is dropped. That is a feature I personally don’t care for because it usually impacts negatively on the trigger pull, but military and law enforcement organizations are demanding it these days.

The airgun

The Sig Spartan 1911 BB pistol is your opportunity to own a Spartan for less than $100. I have to tell you, the heft and feel of this pistol is quite realistic.The only fly in the ointment is a lawyerly manual safety that comes from the airgun world. No firearm would dare have one like it.

Manual safety

The safety has an additional button on top of the conventional thumb safety switch. Apparently the designers really want the shooter to think before he releases that safety. The trick is to treat it differently than a stock 1911 safety. Push the top button down with the soft pad of your thumb and the safety becomes a one-hand control.

There is also a lever on the right of the gun, but it’s only cosmetic. It doesn’t move.

Sig Spartan BB pistol manual safety
The manual safety has an extra button (arrow) that must be depressed to take the safety off. Simply press down on it with the soft pad of your thumb and it goes off easily.

Full blowback

The Spartan is a full blowback (long slide travel) with a metal slide, so I will guess the recoil is quite realistic. On the left side of the slide the words Molan Labe are written in gold Greek letters. The meaning is “Come and take them,” which American gun owners can appreciate, but which is actually the motto of the First Greek Army Corps, as well as the United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT).

Of course the blowback cocks the hammer, so this is a true semiautomatic pistol. More on that in the accuracy test.


The grip panels are smooth black (or dark bronze) scales with an ancient Greek helmet and the same words silkscreened in gold on both sides. The front strap is stippled with a uniform fine grid pattern, for a better grip. The Spartan begs to be held correctly — as in a 1911 bullseye hold that I will discuss when we get to the accuracy test.


A Spartan firearm is finished in an oil-rubbed dark bronze Nitron finish. To my colorblind eyes this pistol appears to be one of several colors, depending on the light. It’s either a deep charcoal, or a matte olive or even a light black. I can even see the bronze color in incandescent lighting.

The hammer is a skeletonized Commander profile and rides above a huge beavertail grip safety, designed to protect the web of the hand from the slide in recoil. A high speed bump at the bottom of the safety ensures the safety will always be depressed when the pistol is held correctly. A 1911 grip safety combines with a short floating firing pin to give two of Brownings three positive safety features, making the 1911 safe to carry cocked with a round in the chamber. But many law enforcement agencies don’t think that’s enough and demand the fourth positive firing pin safety that comes with Series 80 pistols.


The sights are fixed combat style, front and rear. There are three white dots that are aligned for a rough sight picture in action shooting. On the firearm they are tritium (radioactive — glow in the dark) but on the BB pistol they are just painted white. But the front blade is wide enough for a bullseye shooter. Can’t wait to get this pistol into accuracy testing.


The trigger will take some getting used to. I can make an argument for it being two-stage, but stage one is extremely short and vague. Instead of a first stage it feels more like there is some play in the linkage. Stage two has a little creep but it breaks relatively cleanly. It feels heavy, like the trigger on a firearm. I think I will learn a lot more in the accuracy test.


The Spartan BB magazine is a 16-shot stick mag that fits in the front of the grip. It drops free when the release is pressed and it holds the slide open after the last BB has been fired.

The CO2 cartridge fits into the grip through the left grip panel. The Spartan uses the same CO2 cartridge mechanism that you saw in the Sig Max Michel 1911 review. In fact there is a lot of similarity between these two pistols.

Light rail

The frame comes with a light rail that is not found on the firearm. A light rail allows the mounting of accessories like a laser or tactical flashlight for combat use. I have a light rail on my Wilson Combat CQB, but it attaches with screws, where this one is cast into the frame.


Like I said in the beginning, the Spartan offers a lot for a budget price. Of course the operation will prove the pudding, so let’s get this one into the tests!

2013 SHOT Show: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2

The SHOT Show is not a gun show — though that is what many attendees call it, and the mainstream media that doesn’t attend also calls it that. Instead, it’s a happening — to use a 1960’s term. Or it’s a Middle Eastern open market. The big booths house the recognized names like Colt, Winchester and Crosman. Their booths are two stories tall with signs hanging from the ceiling that you could see a mile away if there weren’t other signs hanging in front of them.

But the real drama of the show isn’t at those booths. People already know what to expect in those places. It’s the little out-of-the-way booths hugging the walls that have the surprises. I always set aside some time just to cruise the aisles, looking for some rocks to turn over.

I’ll be walking along a narrow aisle and someone will step out to stop me. Then, in a conspiratorial tone, he leans over and says something like, “Don’t you just hate it when your ice cubes melt and dilute your drink? Cold Bars have solved that problem forever. These are sanitized stainless steel bars that retain the cold almost as well as water, plus they’re reusable forever. Put three of these in your scotch and soda, and it’ll be as fresh and strong after 20 minutes as when it was poured. When you finish the drink, just pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes…and they’re good to go again. While you wait, you use the second set of three bars in your next drink! Nothing could be easier.”

This guy is serious! You look at his spartan booth and realize that he has poured everything into this venture because at some point watery drinks pushed him over his tipping point. When he bounced the idea off his wife and friends, they all agreed it was the next big thing. They had no idea he would mortgage the house and put his life savings into it!

So, here he is, in a narrow aisle of a large trade show, hawking his brains out to people who, for some reason, just don’t seem to get it. Who doesn’t want cold, undiluted drinks?

Think I’m exaggerating? Attend a trade show and walk the aisles some time.

Why do I plod through these pathways of personal misery? Because next to the stainless steel ice cube booth there ‘s the G+G Airsoft booth that has the best action target I’ve seen in a long while. It’s a lighted rubber hemisphere that’s computer-controlled to react to being hit by an airsoft BB. You can turn the light on or off, depending on how you have programmed it.

They call it the MET Unit, which stands for multifunctional electronic target. It can exist as one single target or they can be strung together in up to 25 targets for a prolonged target array.

airsoft action light targets
The MET Unit is from 1 to 25 programmable lights that turn off or on when hit by an airsoft BB.

The wires between targets can be up to 50 meters in length, which allows them to be set up in a tactical course and either light up at some random time until hit or stay on for a programmed time and go off after the time is up or when hit. Two competitors can shoot at the same target and change the color of the lights when they hit it, establishing a duelling target.

The individual target will sell for $66 or 5 for $250. It looks like a great way to have fast-action fun with airsoft guns. They can take hits from AEGs shooting 0.20-gram BBs at up to 450 f.p.s. Naturally, they’re not robust enough for even the lowest-powered steel BB or pellet guns.

Umarex is now branding airguns under their own name. This year, there are three new long guns: the Octane is a breakbarrel with a Reaxis gas spring and SilencAir, which is a baffled silencer; the Surge is an entry-lever springer breakbarrel; and the Fusion is a CO2 pellet rifle, and it also has the SilencAir noise dampener. We’ve seen the Fusion before, branded as the Ruger LGR, but Umarex tells me the Fusion is a Gen 2 upgrade and quite different. I never got the chance to test the LGR, so I’m looking forward to testing the new Fusion as soon as possible.

Umarex Fusion
The Fusion is a new CO2 single-shot rifle from Umarex that sports a 5-chamber noise dampener.

I spent an hour at the Leapers booth this year. The most important thing I wanted to see was the new scope with an internal bubble level. It’s a 4-16x in a 30mm tube, and it looks exactly like what the doctor ordered for those long-range targets we love to shoot. They’re working hard to get it to market this year, but it won’t go out until they’re certain of the quality. Putting a bubble level inside scopes on a production line is apparently quite a challenge…but one I’m sure Leapers will do correctly.

The entire line of scopes have been upgraded with finer adjustments — many of them 1/8-minute adjustments — and greater repeatability. They have a broad range of adjustment in both directions, and their production models are even exceeding the maximum limits they established! All leaf springs have been replaced with coil springs to increase adjustment precision and repeatability.

But the WOW factor comes on the stuff you can see. How about a 3-9x scout scope (10-inch eye relief) with a wide field of view? That is the big trick for scout scopes, and I saw a beauty mounted on an M1A — though it would be just as correct on a Mosin Nagant.

Leapers scout scope
Leapers new scout scope has a full field of vision — something scout scopes are not known for.

Another surprise from the folks in Michigan is the smallest tactical laser I have yet seen. I asked Mac to photograph it next to a quarter for scale.

Leapers small laser
Leapers new laser is the smallest I have yet seen. That’s a quarter next to it.

Back to the Crosman booth to show you what the new Benjamin pump looks like when the handle is raised. I didn’t expect the huge reception this pump got when I showed it the first time this year. Please note that it has not one but two pump tubes. This is a 3-stage pump — the same as the current pumps, but this one compresses a bit more air with each stroke. I’ll have more to say about it when I test it.

Benjamin pump extended
Maybe this view will help you understand how the new Benjamin pump magnifies the force you put into each pump stroke.

I’ll close with a last look at the Hatsan booth. They have the AT-P carbine and AT-P1 pistol…and both are precharged pneumatics. They’ll come in .177, .22 and .25 calibers that each have hunting levels of power. These are repeaters with circular clips and adjustable Quattro triggers. The sights are fiberoptic, and there are provisions for scopes. The air cylinders remove, and spares will be available as options.

For those who are looking for hunting air pistols, I think these two should be considered. I’ll work hard to review them for you as soon as possible.

Hatsan PCP pistol and carbine
The Hatsan AT-P2 Tact (left) and the AT-P1 are exciting new PCP airguns.

Leaving the show
As Edith and I left the show we passed by one final booth. The guy is selling Instant Water for survivalists. Just drop one of his pills in a bucket of water and — Presto! — instant water. Why I can’t think of things like that?

2012 SHOT Show: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

This is the second of my reports on the 2012 SHOT Show. There will certainly be at least one more after this, and perhaps even more, as there’s simply too much new information to pack into a single report.

The state of the airgun industry in 2012
Before I get to some specifics, I want to make a general observation. This year’s SHOT Show was different for me in a major way, because I saw for the first time that firearms shooters are beginning to understand airguns as never before. In the past, I always had to start my explanations with the cooling of the earth’s crust and then progress through the age of the dinosaurs because each firearms person I talked to thought of airguns as either toys or BB guns. This year, a lot of them were clued-in on what’s happening. They weren’t surprised by the accuracy we get, and they knew about big bores. A lot of them had some airgun experience and more than a few asked me the same kind of questions that I get from long-time readers of this blog.

That tells me the day of the airgun has finally dawned in the U.S. Instead of 25,000 to 50,000 active shooters (at best!), we will now see an influx from over 5 million active firearm shooters who are ready to augment their shooting experience with airguns. I’m already getting calls and emails from state departments of wildlife resources, asking about the issues of incorporating airguns into their hunting seasons.

It has been a long haul to get to this point, but we’re now seeing the start of the harvest of all the work that’s been done over the past 40 years — starting with Robert Beeman in the early 1970s. The job is now to manage this growth and provide useful information to the tens of thousands of new airgunners who are flooding in the doors.

Let me reflect on how the industry seems to be reacting to this trend. Some companies have been on board for many years and are poised to ride the new tidal wave of business as far as they can. Other companies are aware that airguns are very hot, but they’re foundering, trying to understand them. Let me say right now that it’s not as easy as you think!

The readers of this blog are among the most clued-in airgunners in the world. But they’re unique, and they do not represent the true market. The demographic of a new airgunner is a man (usually) in his late 20s to late 40s who is most likely a fan of AR-type rifles and Glock-type pistols. He wants repeaters, semiautos and he thinks that a five-shot group is the gold standard of any gun. Velocity impresses him, and he isn’t comfortable with the term kinetic energy.

Things like good triggers and good sights are not an issue with this customer until he experiences bad ones. His ARs have decent triggers off the rack, and he can choose from many drop-in triggers that are much better. When he encounters a spring-piston gun with a horrible trigger that cannot be easily modified, he’s surprised.

He does not use the artillery hold, and he equates all airguns to be alike in terms of performance. When he learns about precharged guns, he’s put off by the additional equipment he must buy. Spring-piston guns seem the best to him for their simple operation, and he doesn’t appreciate the fact that they’re also the most difficult airguns to shoot well.

That’s the customer who’s coming to airguns today, so that’s the person airgun manufacturers have to deal with. If you have wondered why many of the new airguns are what they are — this new-customer profile is the reason.

Okay, I’ve talked about those companies that get it and those that are struggling to understand. There’s one more type of company out there. I like to call them the “gloom and doom company” or the “zero sum company.” They’re firmly entrenched in the 1970s and cannot take advantage of this new windfall of business. They either fired their engineers years ago or they let them all retire, and now they couldn’t build a new airgun to save their lives. As far as they’re concerned, there are only 25,000 airgunners in the United States and it’s the NRA’s responsibility to identify and train them so these companies can sell them some guns.

They think of marketing in 1950’s terms, when a simple paint job and some sheet metal was enough to create a new product. Their “secret” business plan is to buy guns made by other manufacturers and have their name put on. If you’re a collector, better buy up the guns these guys sell because in 10 years their name will be a memory.

That’s enough of the big picture. Let’s see some more products.

More from Crosman
Many of you saw the list of new Crosman products Kevin posted last week, so the few that I show here are by no means all there is, but they’re the highlights. Crosman had about half the new airgun products at the entire SHOT Show.

New tan M4-177 and carry handle
The M4-177 multi-pump that I recently tested for you is going to be very popular this year. Crosman is also offering it as an M4-177 Tactical air rifle with a new carry handle that replaces the rear sight for improved sighting options. I think this gun will be in their lineup for many years to come.

The M4-177 now comes as this tactical model in tan with a carry handle.

I mentioned to Crosman’s Ed Schultz that this rifle looks like the A.I.R.-17 of the 1990s, but done better. He said he always wanted to update that design, and that is exactly what this is. So, what he said next came as no great surprise.

I shared my thoughts on a 2260 made as a multi-pump in .25 caliber, and Ed told me that was how the rifle was originally created (not in .25, however). The CO2 version was an afterthought that got put into production, while the multi-pump version languished in the Crosman morgue. I told him that I thought the time was ripe to bring it back as an upscale hunting rifle, and he seemed to agree. We can only hope.

Carbon fiber tank
As Crosman extends their capability into PCP guns, they know shooters are always looking for better options for their air supply. Besides the new butterfly hand pump I showed you last time, they’ll also be adding a long summer-sausage black carbon fiber tank with increased capacity over their current tanks. This is a 300-bar tank that has 342 cubic-inch capacity. It comes in a black nylon carrying case with sling for field transport.

More air for you! New Benjamin carbon fiber tank will help you take your PCPs further afield.

Benjamin Nitro Piston breakbarrel pistol
The Benjamin NP breakbarrel pistol certainly has people talking on the internet. This is the first commercial gas spring application in a pistol, I believe. The most distinctive feature is a cocking aid that can either be detached or left in place while shooting. That reminds us that this pistol is going to be hard to cock, but I’ll test one for you so we’ll all know just how hard.

New Benjamin Trail NP pistol is a breakbarrel with a gas spring. The cocking aid can be detached or left in place while shooting.

Crosman 1720T PCP pistol
Everybody was ready to jump down Crosman’s throat for creating the 1720T PCP pistol. They wondered with the .22-caliber Marauder pistol and the .177-caliber Silhouette PCP pistol already selling, why was this one needed? As Ed Schultz explained it to me — this one is for field target. It’s a .177 (naturally) that produces just under 12 foot-pounds through a shrouded Lother Walther barrel. It can be used for hunting, but field target was its primary purpose. They worried about the shot count with the Silhouette; but with this one, power was the criterion. Look for about 800 f.p.s. with a 7.9-grain Premier. And the trigger is the same as the Marauder, so excellent operation there.

The new Crosman 1720T PCP pistol is meant for field target competition. It will also work well for hunting.

Crosman MAR 177 PCP conversion
The Crosman MAR-177 PCP conversion is another new product that has a lot of people talking. This AR-15 upper converts your .223 semiauto into a .177 PCP repeating target rifle. Because it’s on an AR platform, almost everybody expects it to be semiautomatic — including those who should know better. This rifle is a bolt action that cocks and loads via a short pull on the charging handle.

This conversion is an Olympic-grade target rifle for a new official sport that Scott Pilkington and others have been promoting for several years. It will take the U.S. battle rifle back into the ranks of target shooting. However, the look of the gun has many shooters totally confused. I was even asked at the show if I thought Crosman should have come out with an “everyman’s” version of the gun first. That would be like asking whether Feinwerkbau missed the boat by not first making their 700 target rifle in a $300 version for casual plinkers.

The MAR-177 PCP conversion is an upper for your target-grade lower. Plan on investing about another $1,000 in a good lower if you hope to compete.

Crosman TT BB pistol
It’s all-metal and a good copy of the Tokarev pistol. The weight is good and the gun feels just right. This will be one to test as soon as possible.

Crosman’s TT Tokarev BB pistol is realistic and looks like fun.

Benjamin MAV 77 Underlever
The Benjamin MAV 77 underlever rifle is going to force Crosman to recognize spring-piston air rifles instead of just calling them all breakbarrels. This is the TX-200 copy from BAM that was once sold by Pyramyd Air. When the quality dropped off, it was discontinued. Hopefully, Crosman will watch the quality on this one.

They didn’t have a firm retail price yet, but hopefully it’ll be significantly under the TX. Otherwise, why buy it? I may test one for you, but I already know that BAM can make a great rifle when they want to. I think it all comes down to price.

Benjamin MAV-77 is an underlever spring-piston rifle that looks and, hopefully, performs like an Air Arms TX-200.

The Crosman TR-77 is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston rifle in an unconventional stock. It’s different enough that I want to test one for you. It appears to be a lower-powered rifle that probably sells at a bargain price because it’s branded under the Crosman banner rather than Benjamin. Mac photographed one in a sand-colored stock for you.

Crosman TR-77 breakbarrel in a sand-colored stock also comes in black.

There was a lot more at Crosman that I could have mentioned, but now let’s go over to the Leapers booth.

I’ve watched Leapers grow from a relatively small company back in 1998 to a major player — blasting past older, entrenched companies as they grew. This year, they were playing a video about the company on a continuous loop in their booth. I was impressed to see their plant in Livonia, Michigan, where they build airsoft guns, tactical mounts, accessories and scopes right here in the U.S. The plant is filled with many CNC machining centers and testing facilities to keep close watch over their products during development.

Leapers owner David Ding told me he wants to get control over the production process so he can assure the quality of all of his products. In keeping with that goal, I was shown the new scope line for 2012 that now offers locking target knobs on all of the upscale models. Many of them feature etched glass reticles that are amazingly crisp and sharp.

Mac was impressed by the reticle on the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope. He urged me to look through it; and when I did, I saw that the reticle is now fine and sharp — not the heavy black lines of the past.

David Ding shows me the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope (not out yet), with target knobs and a finer reticle.

But scopes were just the beginning at Leapers. Next, I was shown the whole line of tactical flashlights and lasers, including some mini lasers I will test on my M1911A1 for you. These are all made in the U.S. now and have more rugged internals, adjustments and optics than similar products from the Orient.

UTG 555 Long Range Light
One item I hope Pyramyd Air will consider stocking is a fantastic 500-lumen tactical light for law enforcement. It can be mounted on a rifle, handheld or even mounted on a bike! It comes with rechargeable lithium batteries and a smart charger…and believe me when I tell you it turns night into day!

The UTG Long Range light can go on your rifle, held in the hand or even mounted to your bike! The rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack will keep it shining at 500 lumens for 1.5 hours.

Fast Action Gun bag
Not all Leapers products are for airguns. They also make tactical and law enforcvement gear that rivals spec-built equipment but sells at a fraction the cost. As a result, many of their customers are ordering straight from the front lines of combat and from law enforcement agencies all over the country to get the products that their own supply lines cannot or will not furnish.

One of their latest developments is a Fast Action Gun bag that lets the wearer walk in public with a substantial firearm hidden from view. A quick pull of a strap, and the bag opens to reveal the weapon inside.

Leapers owner Tina Ding models their new Fast Action Gun bag. Here, it’s concealed; but she’s just pulled it over her shoulder from her back, where it looks like a tennis bag.

And in less than a second, the bag is open, giving instant access to the tactical shotgun or submachine gun inside.

11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter
Leapers has an entirely new range of quick-disconnect scope mounts coming this year, but there’s another innovation that I think you’ll find even more impressive. It’s an adapter that snaps into a Picatinny scope mount base, turning it into an 11mm dovetail. So, your conventional air rifle will now also accept Leapers Picatinny scope mounts with this adapter.

11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter is small and doesn’t raise the mount at all! This will be one to test!

Leapers is still the company to watch because the owners want to build a lasting corporation here in the U.S. They’re poised to move to the next level of quality in their optics, which gives me a lot of hope for the future — they’ve always been receptive to the needs of airgunners.

Whew! That’s a lot of products, and there are still many more to show. As I said in the beginning, there will be at least another report.

BSA Stealth Tactical Dot Sight with laser and tactical flashlight: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

The BSA Stealth Tactical Dot Sight is a sexy-looking unit!

And now for something completely different. It’s not an airgun at all, but an optical sight system with a lot going for it! The BSA Stealth Tactical Red/Green/Blue Dot Sight with tactical flashlight and laser is a unique optical sight that gives more sighting options with greater innovation than I have ever seen. I will try to do it justice in this report.

It’s not cheap
The price of $136 is bound to put off a lot of potential buyers, but perhaps if I tell the whole story some will look a second time. And, a second look is warranted, for this is no bargain-bin dot sight. It’s a well-engineered system, containing a dot sight with three different-colored dots, a laser and a tactical flashlight in one comprehensive package. And, speaking of the package, let’s begin there, because the box this thing comes in is enough to warm the hearts of most shooters.

Ammo can
Inside the heavy card lithographed box is a metal container styled like a military ammo can. If you’ve ever served in a military organization, this container will seem familiar, because the military often packages expensive field equipment in rugged containers like this. The can opens like any ammo box ever produced, revealing the sight and its supporting parts inside. I know I would have lots of uses for that container after the sight was mounted on a gun.

The sight comes packed in a padded metal ammo can.

The sight is a unitized cluster that contains a three-color dot sight, a tactical flashlight and a red laser. The flashlight and laser run on button batteries, so don’t use them indiscriminately. They are there to be used, but the batteries don’t have the life of the much larger CR123A batteries found in standalone units.

Weaver base required
The unit includes an integral Weaver mount with locking crossbars to prevent movement under recoil. Factor that into your purchase plans. Because I’m still recovering from a hernia, I plan to test the sight on an AirForce Talon SS that has an 11mm to Weaver adapter, but the sight would also work perfectly on one of the new Benjamin Trail-series rifles that has a Weaver base built in. If I could cock a springer, I would have tested it on a benjamin Trail rifle that has the Weaver base built-in.

What is a dot sight?
A dot sight is like a scope, but with a few important differences. First, most dot sights do not magnify the target at all. Because they don’t, they have a wide field of view that’s well-suited to the quick acquisition of a target. Hunters love them for that.

Dot sights are similar to scopes, but instead of a vertical and horizontal crosshair they use a single dot located in the center of the optical package. The dot represents the intersection of a vertical and horizontal reticle. The motion of the erector tube moves the dot around so the sight can be zeroed, the same as it does for a scope. The dot is visible only inside the sight. No one other than the shooter can see it. It doesn’t project outside the unit like a laser light beam. A laser is like a flashlight with a coherent light; a dot sight is like a scope but with a dot instead of a crosshair.

Multiple colors
Dots can be any color, and by changing the color they may be more visible in certain light situations. This device has a choice of three different colors — red, green and blue. A single rotary knob lets you select the color you want and vary the intensity. The intensity is important because, as the dot gets brighter, it appears to grow in size. The larger it is, the less precise when aiming. With the BSA sight, each color has three levels of intensity, and there’s an “off” position between each color. As the knob is turned, you get a light in three levels, followed by an off, then a different color light followed by another “off” and so on. The knob can be rotated completely around without stopping.

Lens covers
The BSA sight has a unique set of lens covers, front and rear. They’re built right into the unit, so there’s nothing to lose or carry separately. Simply twist the outer ring on both ends of the sight, and an iris opens and closes to protect the lens. I like the convenience of this kind of lens cover, and I wish scopes had it, too.

The integral iris lens covers are always with the sight and never get in the way. I really like them!

The laser
Why put a laser on a gun? Well, it can be used as a close-range sight of sorts. You can align where the laser shines to where the pellet strikes and have a quick means of sighting. Simply put the dot on a target and pull the trigger. There’s been so much use of this in movies over the past 20 years that I don’t need to elaborate further.

To make this possible, you have to adjust the laser to the point of impact, and that can be a difficult thing to do. I’ll test this aspect of the sight in my report. I’ll attempt to adjust the laser to be on target at 10 yards, which is a perfect distance for it. You use a laser in conjunction with an optical sight by adjusting the laser for ranges at which the sight is not adjusted. So, I’ll zero the dot for a 20-yard first point of impact and the laser for a 10-yard had zero. In other words, the pellet will not be zeroed at any range other than 10 yards. That way, I’ll have the gun zeroed from about 8 yards out to 40 yards, because the amount the pellet will be off-target at the interim distances (the non-zeroed distances of 10 yards, 20 yards and perhaps 34 yards) will be a negligible pellet’s diameter away.

The tactical flashlight
This feature seems less valuable to me than the laser. I understand it’s there for the coolness factor, and that in a combat or tactical law enforcement situation a flashlight may be just the thing you want. For a hunter, it’s less useful. Yes, hunters need flashlights, but they don’t need flashlights that operate on button batteries and have a useful life of an hour or less. I’ll test this to find out what the life really is, because there’s no literature that comes with the sight. You need a flashlight that works with a beefy CR123A battery, so you have sufficient illumination time. Still, it’s there and I’ll test it.

Do we need a unit like this? Well, that’s more up to the individual shooter than it is to writers like me. To the man who wants a good dot sight for hunting, if this is a good one then, yes, he needs it. To the man who calculates the pennies he spends on pellets, I’d say this sight is a bit too pricey. Other dot sights might satisfy his itch just as well. I’ll be testing it for functionality, not for its “worth,” which only you can define.

Remote cables
You need remote switches to operate a sight like this. There are switches on the unit that can turn it on and off, but for the laser and flashlight there are also coiled cables that allow you to position a pressure-sensitive thumb switch to a spot on the gun stock where it’s more convenient to operate. It’s your choice to use the cables or the switches that come on the unit.

You can install these remote cables anywhere you like on your gun. They make operation of the laser and flashlight faster and easier.

BSA Optics Laser Genetics ND-5 laser designator – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

First, two announcements. Don’t miss the latest video episode from Airgun Academy. Episode 13 is about adjusting scopes, ironically enough. I say ironically in light of what we’ve been doing with the FWB 124. Also, the October podcast is up. It’s about selecting the right youth airgun.

Now, it’s time for today’s report.

Ever since I saw it at the SHOT Show in January, I’ve wanted to test the BSA Laser Genetics ND-5 laser designator for you. Now that I have it in hand, I’m slightly stumped how to proceed. How would you test the first atomic bomb, if some of your developing scientists told you it would destroy the world? How do I test a flashlight (I know that BSA Optics hates for me to call it that, but it’s the best analogy I can give) that shines brightly for five miles (8.05 kilometers)? And who needs such a thing?

The BSA Laser Genetics ND-5 is a powerful handheld laser designator.

Well, I don’t really care who needs it, I WANT it! The ND-5 is a long-distance laser designator (a flashlight) that shines a highly visible green laser beam (532 nanometers wavelength) over unbelievably long distances. And there’s a simple thumb switch to adjust the collimation of the beam, which is just fancy talk for making the beam wider or narrower. A round button on the end of the barrel turns the light on and off, and the lens bezel is made to crack skulls, just like a tactical flashlight.

The beam can be set to narrow, which is hundreds of times as wide as a normal laser beam. Because it’s coherent light, it maintains this tight beam out to a far distance. While the above picture seems to show a white light rimmed in green, it’s actually solid green. The laser was so bright that it overwhelmed the camera.

Or you can adjust it all the way out to wide, which at three feet is just under a foot in diameter.

A power button on the end of the designator turns the light on and off.

The bezel is shaped for cracking skulls.

So, this is really a night vision device. And it’s one that doesn’t bother game animals. You can see the eyes of animals 1.5 kilometers away as clear as day when you shine the beam on them. I saw this in a demonstration video in the Gamo booth at the show. Okay, so typical NV gear costs $500 and more and gives you visibility out to several hundred yards. Or, you can buy one of these for $330 and extend your night vision by several miles. You decide. Oh, and you don’t have to wear this one. You carry it like a flashlight and use it the same way.

The designator comes in a handy padded carrying case that you’ll want to keep it in between uses. It uses 2 CR134A camera batteries to give up to seven hours of continuous use. It’s sealed with o-rings to keep water and dirt out, and the body is made from tough aluminum.

The ND-5 comes packed in a padded carry case that will hold it when it’s not in use.

One thing you’ll notice if you ever go to the SHOT Show is the proliferation of lasers. They’re everywhere! If you watch the darkened ceiling in the trade show main exhibition room, you’ll always see one or more laser dots walking along the girders and lights. But the ND-5 is to a normal laser like a Peterbuilt tractor is to a Mitsubishi pickup! The main display hall is not big enough to contain the power of this instrument. Even in a hall that measures a half-mile in length, the ND-5 is just starting to get the wind beneath its wings by the time it slams into the far wall. And that’s with all the lights turned on! You ought to see it in the dark!

The dark is where it’s designed to work. I can imagine varmint hunters, for instance, shining a light out and sweeping the country in front of them to determine whether they’re calling in a coyote or a cougar. It would make a difference whether you make ready your .17 HM2 or decide to use the .257 Roberts. Or at least get the .357 Magnum ready in case there’s a screwup and you become the hunted!

How can I show this more effectively?
So, I’m looking at ways I can show you this wonderful device, or at least how I can test it in a way that my description sounds interesting. If you can come up with anything to help me, please let me know.

Now for something completely different
I’ve been wanting to do a blog for awhile about reloading firearm cartridges. Just a one-parter to show the basics of what goes into turning a fired case into a loaded cartridge. I was out at the range yesterday and shot up some .45 Colt ammunition that I reloaded using the simplest of hand tools.

I want to do this report so we can talk more about ballistics, and I can use some firearm analogies that apply to airgunning but whose meaning would be lost if you don’t know how a cartridge works. For example, when reloading, case volume comes into play. There’s a relationship between the filled and empty volume of a cartridge case and the type of gun powder being used that determines the efficiency of the round created. And, you might get higher velocity if, before you fire each shot, you elevate the muzzle of the gun to get the powder piled up back near the primer flash hole. But do you even know what a primer flash hole is and how it works?

Well, that exercise is analogous to a spring-piston gun that’s most efficient when held in one orientation rather than another (i.e., held normally as opposed to held upside-down). Or held loose versus tight.

So, may I write this one report to explain how a cartridge is reloaded without offending anyone? I know it’s off the main track of airgunning, but it really isn’t as far off as it seems.