Peep sights: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • First encounter
  • The front sight
  • HOWEVER!!!
  • Irony
  • The deal
  • Problems with the post sight
  • Other front sights
  • Contrarians
  • Dial-a-sight
  • The best front sight insert
  • The clear aperture front sight
  • Summary

Today we will look at the front sight that works with the peep sight. Remember, the whole purpose of the peep sight is to eliminate the rear sight from the equation. So the front sight is of extreme importance.

First encounter

The first peep sight I even looked through was on a Winchester model 52 target rifle in an NRA-run course that taught me how to shoot. While other boys my age (10) were interested in baseball and football,  I was only interested in shooting. So I listened to every word the instructors said and I tried to do what they told me, to the best of my ability.

Winchester 52 rear sight
The Marble target sight on the Winchester 52 seemed remarkable to a 10-year-old boy!
read more


John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Lil Duke and scope
John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope.

This report covers:

What is it?
Folded metal
Loading the old way
Lever
Sights
Scope
Stock and forearm
Trigger and safety
Metal parts 
Overall dimensions
Cocking
Power
My plans
Summary

Today I’m starting a new report on an interesting BB gun — the John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope. This is a licensed John Wayne BB gun made exclusively for Air Venturi, and I selected the one that comes bundled with a scope to test for you. Let’s get right into it.

What is it?

In the world of spring-piston BB guns there is not much that’s new under the sun. Unlike breakbarrel spring rifles that are pushing the boundaries of design these days, spring-piston BB guns don’t innovate that much. The Daisy lever action gun design type is nearly exclusive worldwide. There have been a few different BB gun designs over the years — guns like the ones made by Parris many decades ago. They appear quite odd and foreign to our “Red Ryder” eyes. And El Gamo made a unique BB gun around 1930. There have been a few others like the Pioneer underlever in 1976, but BB guns of a style unlike the Red Ryder are not common. read more


What about dry-firing?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • History
  • Luger
  • Soviet SKS
  • One more common problem
  • Designed to be dry-fired
  • Airguns
  • BB — get real!
  • Sillyiess
  • And the others?
  • Under The Gun
  • An aside that is pertinent
  • Pneumatics and gas guns
  • BB’s rule of thumb
  • Summary

Time for another basic report. We discuss dry-firing airguns a lot and things get out of control pretty quick, but I guess that’s the nature of the Internet. My wife, Edith, used to have a little saying about it. She said people would post:

“I have an HW77 that I enjoy.”

“Yes, Weihrauch airguns all nice, aren’t they?”

“I shoot my Gamo Expomatic in the basement every day.”

“I like ice cream!”

I’ll come back to that, but today I thought I would dive into the subject of dry-firing a little deeper, since it’s one that seems to affect all of us to some extent. I think I’ll start with firearms.

History

I’m going to begin with guns that have firing pins, though the subject of dry-firing does go back much farther than that. Older guns are usually not made to endure much dry-firing, if any. Their metal parts are hardened to withstand a lot of use without wearing, but hardness does tend to make metal brittle. The better guns have firing pins made from tool steel that can be both hard and also resistant to breakage from impact, but gun makers didn’t always do that because dry-firing was considered a no-no a century ago.

Luger

The German Luger, for example, had parts that were heat-treated (hardened) and then tempered (treated with heat for ductility) to a medium straw yellow color. The maker wanted the firing pin to work without wear, and also to not deform the parts with which it interacted. But the metallurgy of Luger parts was less complex 100 years ago than it is today and it is not recommended that you dry-fire a German Luger — especially if it is one from history. It can be done if the gun needs to be uncocked, but you run the risk of breaking the pin and other parts in the firing mechanism.

Legends P08 Erfurt Luger
The Legends P08 pistol with blowback is shown beneath a 1914 Luger made at the Royal Arsenal at Erfurt. This century-old pistol should not be dry-fired.

Soviet SKS

The Soviet semiautomatic rifle we call the SKS is another example of a gun that should not be dry-fired — though not because of the metallurgy.

SKS
This Soviet SKS was manufactured at the Tula Arsenal in 1953.

The reason you should not dry-fire an SKS is the tapered firing pin can get stuck inside the bolt in the fired position — protruding from the bolt. If that happens the gun can fire every cartridge it chambers. It’s essentially firing from the open bolt, which it is not timed correctly to do. It will shoot full auto until it runs out of cartridges and the action can blow up if a cartridge case lets go before it is fully chambered and the action is locked shut (that’s the timing). This is a common fault with the SKS and owners are cautioned to keep their bolts and firing pins clean and to not dry-fire their rifle. A firing pin return spring was installed in the earliest SKS bolts and can be retrofitted into guns without it to protect against this.

One more common problem

So, breaking parts and sticking parts are two of the most common reasons why dry-firing firearms is not recommended. And there is one more common reason. Many rimfires are designed so their firing pins will make contact with the edge of the chamber if there is no cartridge rim there to cushion them. This makes them fire more reliably. However, if guns like these are fired a lot with no cartridge in the chamber a groove or depression will form in the rim of the chamber and the gun will no longer fire reliably because there is nothing backing up the cartridge rim. Therefore the cartridge rim will not be crushed reliably to set off the priming compound and the guns either start to misfire a lot or they quit working altogether. It’s a real problem with older rimfires made before about 1960, and even some of the less expensive ones that are made today still have the problem. But many do not.

I’ll use the Ruger 10/22 as an example of a rimfire that can be safely dry-fired. The Ruger website even has a video that says so. And so can the Ruger Mark pistols. Their firing pins are purposely designed to stop a tiny fraction of an inch away from the rim of the chamber. You readers who understand manufacturing know how difficult it is to maintain those kind of dimensions across multiple parts so it always works out right after assembly!

I only use Ruger as an example. Many rimfires are designed this way today. But don’t take my word for it. Find out if YOUR rimfire is so-designed before you start dry-firing!

Designed to be dry-fired

Then there are the firearms that are purposely designed to be dry-fired. I’ll use a free pistol for my example. Because bullseye target shooters shoot many times more shots dry than with ammunition to train their eye-hand coordination, their guns have to be designed for it.

Hammerli 100 right
This Hammerli free pistol is a .22 rimfire pistol used in 50-meter bullseye competition.

The Hammerli 100 was produced from the late 1940s until the middle 1950s, when the model 101 superseded it. It has a lever on the left side of the receiver that cocks the trigger but not the firing pin. It allows you to practice with the trigger all day long without ever chambering a live round or cocking the gun.

Hammerli 100 dry-fire
That lever cocks the trigger of the pistol. It works regardless of the action being cocked.

Airguns

Let’s now turn our attention to airguns. I will begin with the target guns that have dry-fire devices to allow practice for the same reasons as the free pistols just mentioned. The top 10-meter rifles and pistols all have them, but so do the informal airguns (mostly pistols) that are designed for informal target practice. Take the Beeman P1 for example. If you lift the top strap, but not far enough to cock the pistol, you set the trigger and you can dry-fire it in the same way as a more expensive target pistol. The trigger feels exactly the same as when the pistol is fully cocked, but no pellet is shot when the trigger falls.

BB — get real!

All of that is nice to know, but it doesn’t answer the question that is in your mind, does it? You want to know about spring-piston air rifles, don’t you?

Silliness

Remember what I told you at the start of this report about conversations on the Internet quickly getting silly? It happens here sometimes, too. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Gamo at one time advertised that their spring-piston air rifles could withstand 10,000 dry-fires without damage and they had even tested for it. Well, that statement morphed into Gamo testing all (as in each and every one) of their spring-piston air rifles by dry-firing them 10,000 times! No — they don’t. If you think about it, they really couldn’t. That would add so much cost to each gun (the time spent putting them all into the cocking/firing fixtures then waiting for them to be cocked and fired 10,000 times, not to mention the vast number of fixtures they would need for a 40,000-piece model run) that a $200 air rifle would have to cost $400 or more.

Gamo doesn’t do that and they never did. But maybe the person who said that only meant that Gamo tests each type of gun (one test per model type — not each and every gun) with 10,000 dry-fires. They don’t do that any longer, either — or at least it’s no longer a part of their advertising campaign. Maybe they still test them that way — but they don’t talk about it as much. I said what I said in an historical context in my report titled, Does dry-firing damage airguns?. In that report a reader mentioned that Gamo addresses dry-firing in their frequently asked questions on their GamoUSA website. I went there to check and they no longer address it.

So, Gamo isn’t telling customers they can dry-fire their spring-piston guns. Except that I did find in the manual for the Swarm Fusion 10X they said that one way to safely test whether the rifle has a pellet in the barrel after it has been cocked is to fire it in a safe direction. If there is no pellet that would constitute a dry-fire, so they are okay with that.

And the others?

What about the rest of the spring-piston airgun makers? Are their rifles and pistols proofed against damage from dry-fires? Yes and no. Yes because of the materials being used today and because of the changes in design that lend themselves to more reliable performance, and no — because in a lot of instances this hasn’t been deliberate. I will illustrate with a scope analogy.

Under The Gun

Spring airguns break scopes. We have known that for a long time. But in 1998, when Leapers learned that was the case, they set out to design airgun scopes that could not be broken that way! They even designed test fixtures to test scope designs over the long term. During the same timeframe they added the name Under The Gun (UTG) to their scope line. Hence today UTG scopes are pretty much bulletproof. They are designed with Smart Spherical Structure (SSS) — a scope body that’s inherently stronger than other bodies because it addresses the interaction between the inner and outer scope tubes.

Now along come all the other scope manufacturers in the world — from the biggies like Leupold, Burris and Hawke to the little guys that make scopes for cheap. The biggies watch the scope market closely and, when some bozo named B.B. Pelletier starts waving his pom-poms, they purchase a couple of the UTG scopes he is raving about and examine them — CLOSELY. They discover that, indeed, there are some design features that are quite worthy and they find their own ways of emulating them. Next thing you know ten years have passed and all of the brand-name scopes are spring-rifle proof or, as in the case of Hawke, they know that certain ones in their lineup aren’t and they tell buyers up front. This migration doesn’t just happen through copying, either. Engineers change jobs and the word spreads.

Last to change are the cheapies, but they do change, because at the same time the manufacturers were getting smarter — so were the buyers. Maybe a full two decades have to pass before there are no more scope problems with spring-gun recoil, but it does happen.

An aside that is pertinent

Back to dry-firing. When major airgun manufacturers like Feinwerkbau, Diana and Walther used piston seals that are made of a synthetic that dry-rotted over time, they all got a black eye when the ship hit the sand. Quick as a bunny and with ZERO fanfare they all switched their formulas for their synthetic piston seals! What else could they do — advertise that their airguns now come with piston seals that DON’T dry-rot?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why dry-firing should not hurt a spring gun today — but don’t do it regularly. Now — what about the other powerplants?

Pneumatics and gas guns read more


The basics of shooting: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • I can’t use open sights — my eyes are bad!
  • Bad eyes
  • The point
  • Fire Direction Center
  • So what?
  • Eye dominance
  • Sight with either eye
  • What can YOU do?
  • Exercise
  • What’s the point?
  • Pistols and scoped rifles — not such a problem
  • If you really can’t see, use a scope
  • Effect on accuracy?
  • Summary

Today we look at the subject of eyes and eyesight as it relates to the basics of shooting. This is a tough subject and I’m sure there is a lot more than I will address. I’m not an eye doctor, so everything I say today is based on my experience, or on the little research I’ve done.

I can’t use open sights — my eyes are bad!

Yes there are people who absolutely cannot use open sights. I estimate that of those who make this complaint perhaps 5-10 percent of them are correct. Today I want to talk about the others — the ones who just won’t try because they think it’s too difficult.

Bad eyes

In 2010 I was in the hospital for 3-1/2 months with acute pancreatitis. I coded once — a code blue with a crash cart and lots of doctors and other people. My blood pressure was 35 over 25 and they said they were loosing me. I said to somebody there (my eyes were closed and I couldn’t see anyone) that 35 over 25 was pretty low and he responded, “Hey! You shouldn’t be conscious!” Then I was out for three days and when I woke up I hallucinated for the next two weeks. Then they sent me to a different hospital.

At the different hospital I had a young doctor who refused to give me a transfusion when my hemoglobin dipped below 7.0. I told my wife I couldn’t see anything, nor could I concentrate on anything. She found out about the low hemoglobin and the doctor holding back (a nurse told her) and demanded I be given a transfusion. I immediately had two units, followed by a unit per day for the next two days. I also got a different doctor. I was in a teaching hospital and saw 6 young doctors every day, but nobody did much of anything for me. I was fed through a tube in my arm. Reader Kevin knew how bad it was but most readers were kept in the dark.

When I was discharged from that hospital I went home with a feeding tube still in my arm. It remained there for another two months.

The point

My point in telling you all of this is, when I went home, I still could not see very well. My eyes had dehydrated and took six to eight months for them to return to normal. How could I continue writing this blog? My friend Mac helped me a lot in those days but I had to get back to shooting again quick.

I used powerful reading glasses to see the front sight. When I did I was able to shoot again. I might not have been at my peak, but I was certainly okay.

Fortunately I knew something that the people who won’t use open sights apparently don’t believe. You don’t have to see the target very well to hit it! All you need to see clearly is the front sight. Please bear with me on this because there is more to explain before I tie it together for you.

I am aware of this sighting situation more than most folks because I was a 4.2-inch (107mm) mortar platoon leader in the Army. My guns shot at targets 3,000-5,000 meters away — targets the guys at at the guns never saw. Our fire was directed by forward observers (FOs) who watched the target through binoculars that had a mil-reticle in them. They were excellent at determining their range to the target and measuring how far left and right of it (in mils) the mortar shells impacted. And, let me tell you — when a 4.2-inch mortar round explodes, there is no problem seeing it!

Fire Direction Center

My Fire Direction Center (FDC) knew where the FOs were. They also knew where the guns (mortar tubes) were, so when the corrections were called in to the FDC from the FOs, they calculated them from the FOs’ viewpoint, and then shifted their calculations around to the gun’s viewpoint. They then calculated what kind of elevation and windage changes each tube needed to make (each was unique) to hit the target.

Each gun (number one gun through number four gun) would make the traverse and elevation corrections, though only one tube was firing at the time. Once the corrections were made to their gun sights, the gunners looked through their sights and aligned them with their aiming posts that were about 40 feet in front of them. There were lights on the aiming posts for night operations, so they made their vertical crosshair split the light lenses in their centers. Then they leveled their guns until the bubble in the level on the gun’s sight was centered again.

When that tube (the one that was firing) got on target, and that happened within three shots at the max, we conducted a fire mission (we fired for effect) with 2 to 4 tubes — depending on the target. A fire mission is a certain number of shots fired from a certain number of guns. Downrange it is called a barrage. If you are in the place where the shells are landing it looks and feels like the world is blowing up.

One time during a fire mission we dropped a shell down the tank commander’s hatch (we shot at obsolete but real US tanks on the ranges at Grafenwoehr, Germany) and blew the turret off the tank! The division commander, a two-star general, was watching this with my forward observers and was highly pleased.

So what?

Hey, BB, I’m not a mortar tube! Why tell me how they adjust their sights? I shoot pellet guns.

I told you this because you adjust your sights in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons, whether you know it or not. The mortar tube’s aiming post is their front sight and it’s about 40 feet away from the gun. Their target may be 5 kilometers away and the gunners can’t even see it. Yet they can hit it consistently because they don’t worry about it. They concentrate on the aiming post. That aiming post is their front sight.

Your eyes are your forward observers and your brain is your fire direction center. It tells your hands how to adjust the front sight (by adjusting the rifle or pistol) to hit the target that SHOULD LOOK BLURRY to you. Nobody can focus on both the front sight and the target. The front sight is where you should focus.

I have taught dozens of people to shoot this way and it ALWAYS works. My best students are women and children who have no prior experience with shooting. That’s because they listen to everything I say, then they try to do it the way I tell them from the start. My worst students are 20 to 40-year-old men who come to me already “knowing” how to shoot. They have so much to unlearn!

Eye dominance

Okay, the front sight issue is out of the way. Now, which is your dominant eye? Keeping both eyes open, look at a spot about 10-15 feet from you. A spot on the wall is good for this. Looking at that spot, hold your hand at arm’s length and stick up your thumb to cover that spot.

Now, wink one eye closed or cover one eye with paper and watch to see whether the thumb seems to move away from the spot. It doesn’t matter which eye you cover. If the spot remains in the same place, uncover that eye and then cover the other eye to see whether your thumb seems to move.

For me the thumb covers the spot when I cover my left eye. But when I cover my right eye the thumb moves to the right. It moves about as far as my eyes are apart. That means my right eye is dominant. If it moves the other way — well, you figure it out.

What if the thumb doesn’t move regardless of which eye is covered? That means both eyes are dominant, and I guess that person can sight with either eye. I seldom encounter that situation, though I know it does exist.

Sight with either eye

While I am right-eye dominant, I can sight with my left eye. It doesn’t feel comfortable, but I can do it. However, there are people who find that incredibly difficult to do. My wife, Edith was one who couldn’t do it. So airgun maker Gary Barnes made a special offset scope mount that allowed her to shoot a Barnes Ranger precharged pneumatic.

barnes ranger
Gary Barnes made this special offset scope mount so Edith could sight with her left eye while shooting right-handed.Those two outriggers adjust independently and the scope rings swivel to align with the scope tube in any orientation.

Besides the trajectory correction she also had to make a correction for the sideways offset of the scope. So, shooting at different ranges was a challenge. But BRV was a bullseye game that was always shot at the same distance, so that’s where she competed.

edith shooting
Edith competed in BRV with a .177 Barnes Ranger PCP rifle.

What can YOU do?

You have options if you are what is colloquially known as odd-eyed dominant — a right-handed person with left-eye dominance and vice-versa. First, you might be able to learn to shoot with the other eye. I can do it, though I don’t like it. But when my left or non-dominant eye looks at sights I find it best to cover the dominant eye somehow. And I said cover — not close the eye by winking. I have an exercise to show you why winking your non-sighting eye doesn’t work.

Exercise

Poke a hole through a piece of stiff paper or card stock. Let’s make it around 1/4-inch or 6.35 millimeters in diameter. That’s roughly. Don’t sweat the measurements! I used the awl on my Swiss Army knife to poke the hole and it’s not very round.

hole in card
The hole doesn’t have to be precise. Even something as rough as this will work.

Now, keep both eyes open and cover your non-sighting eye. Bring the hole in the card up to your other eye about 3/4-inches away and the hole will appear to remain fully open. Then, close your other eye by winking and watch the hole shrink in size. The edges become blurry and you notice them closing in. The more you wink the smaller the hole becomes. That is what happens when you sight with one eye and close the other one by winking! Don’t do it because it makes the light through the peephole or through the rear sight notch decrease dramatically. Use an eye patch if you must, but keep both eyes open.

What’s the point?

The point is — don’t close your other eye when sighting. Train yourself to leave it open, because closing it by winking or squinting just reduces the amount of light that comes through your sighting eye.

Okay, that was option one — use the other eye. Option two is to shoot from the other side, i.e. a right-handed person shooting left-handed. I find it easier to do that with a rifle than a pistol. Some folks have no trouble doing it either way with both rifles and pistols. Those folks have already figured all of this out and they are waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

The last thing I recommend is getting a special gunstock or sights or a trick scope mount like I show above. They are just as difficult to live with as the problem they are designed to correct.

Pistols and scoped rifles — not such a problem read more


Readers make a difference

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Loose scope
  • Oh, oh!
  • Bob’s drone
  • Nope
  • And?
  • No blog
  • Best for 2019
  • On to the reviews
  • You Tube videos
  • Reviews still important
  • Why I wrote today’s report
  • BB is moving toward You Tube videos
  • Summary

To our readers in the UK, happy Guy Fawkes Day (actually Guy Fawkes Night, but who’s looking?)!

My brother-in-law, Bob (blog handle B-I-L), came up for a visit last Friday and we shot the Umarex Synergis rifle in which he was interested. We shot and shot, but for some reason he just could not get the rifle to hit the bull. It was grouping to the right. Even when I shot it, the pellets still went to the right. No scope adjustment seemed to work, though I did raise the impact point with the adjustments, so perhaps that concealed what was happening.

Loose scope

After maybe 15 disappointing shots he asked me if the scope was tight. Well, of course it was! I’m the Godfather of Airguns, Bob. Would I hand you a rifle with a loose scope?

Oh, oh!

So I grabbed the scope to show him how tight it was — and it rattled! Oh! The bases of the mounts were loose on the rifle. A quick turn of the base screws with a quarter and Bob started shooting dime-sized groups in the bull at 20 yards. It just goes to show you that it’s always something.

Bob’s drone

After we finished shooting Bob pulled his drone out of the box and asked me if I wanted to look at my roof. Then he installed the batteries, paired the drone to the controller, stabilized the gyros, aligned the compass, found the satellites and — nothing! He played with it for many minutes, rebooting it several times and trying to get the darn thing to work, but it just refused. So back in the box it went and Bob said, “I guess I’ve just soured you on drones.”

Nope

Not at all! I didn’t know they were so affordable and that guys like Bob and I could operate them. On Saturday I cruised the web looking at drones priced from $90 to $1,100, thinking I might find a use for them in some of my videos. Bob actually put that idea into my head, so I’m not the only Enabler on this blog.

And?

Here is what I found. Every drone on the market is wonderful, except for the ones that aren’t. It doesn’t matter what they cost — they all work great until they fly away and get lost or fall in a lake. That doesn’t count the ones that crash into trees and houses, fall on people or stop accepting commands from their controllers. The support teams at the companies that make the drones are extremely helpful and quick to respond, except for the ones that laugh at you. When your drone goes rogue (flies away to who-knows-where) the support team asks you to return it so they can examine it. Duh! And, there are no blogs for drones.

No blog

Whaddaya mean, BB? There are hundreds of blogs about drones. Yes, there are hundreds of commercial advertising pages that CALL themselves blogs, but each one I examined is either a thinly disguised sales platform, or an outlet for some esoteric drone research project.

What I mean when I say there are no blogs is I couldn’t find any blogs like THIS one! Places where those new to drones can go and ask fundamental questions and also where drones are tested without regard to who makes them. The “tests” I read about some drones were a joke — obviously written by someone in marketing.

Who are the Weihrauchs and Air Arms of drone makers? And who are the makers to avoid?

Best for 2019

So I did some research of my own. First I looked up the best drones of 2019 and discovered that, of the 10 listed, four were no longer available. The next day I tried that site again and found those four had been removed from the test results, replaced with 4 different drones that were available. Okay — that is not a “10 best” page. That is a “Here is what we have on hand today” page! Since one company’s models were rated best over most others, I have to assume their marketing department runs that “test” page.

So, I searched to find the 10 best drones of 2017. Here is a quote I pulled from from that page.

“This article will be continually updated as new drones are released and reviewed, so be sure to check back if you’re not buying a drone right now.” read more


The basics of shooting: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • When the target is close, things change
  • Not about the snake
  • Trajectory — part one
  • What it looks like to you
  • Relationship of the sights to the bore
  • Sight-in at 10-12 feet
  • How I sight in a scope
  • Remember the snake
  • Different ammo
  • Discount store pellets
  • The deal
  • New pellets
  • Fishing sinker larvae
  • How much influence is the pellet?
  • Summary

Before we start let me tell you that I wanted to finish my report on the IZH MP532 rear sights today. The reason I didn’t is because as time passes I learn more and more about them. I want to make certain that I have explored everything I can when I write that report. It will also have at least one video.

For today I thought I would return to this subject that many readers seem to enjoy. Please understand that B.B. Pelletier isn’t the world’s authority on shooting. I do know some things, though, and I enjoy writing about them. If what I know can help anybody, then I have done my job.

When the target is close, things change

Let’s start with a fact that seems to escape people until it’s too late. You sight in your deer rifle for 100 yards, knowing that you will probably encounter a deer anywhere from 50 to 125 yards where you hunt. If it’s greater than 125 yards you probably won’t take the shot.

Then, while you are walking to where the hunt starts, you encounter a copperhead snake on the trail. He is 15 feet away and he must be cold because copperheads are aggressive and they are known to attack, similar to water moccasins, though not quite as aggressive.

All you have is your deer rifle. You can barely see the snake through your 6-power scope. So — where do you aim? You don’t have a backup gun (put that on the list), so it’s either the deer rifle you’re carrying or time to start backing up. The trail you are on is cut into the side of a steep hill and it’s 3 feet wide. Kill the copperhead or go back!

Not about the snake

This is not about the snake. This is about suddenly realizing that all your planning for this hunt while you were sitting in your comfy recliner at home has not prepared you for a shot like this. You are prepared for shooting at 50 to 125 yards. Where will your bullet be at 15 feet from the muzzle?

Now, there is a secret to successfully shooting snakes, and for an extra 10 percent (each) over what you normally pay me, I will divulge it. But it’s not why we’re here. We are talking about the basics of shooting and this brings us to our first teaching point. Bullets and pellets do not travel in a straight line. The instant they emerge from the barrel, gravity starts to act on them and they fall to the ground just as fast as if you dropped them from your hand — assuming the barrel is level and the muzzle and hand are at the same height.

Trajectory — part one

You adjust the open sights or the scope to look DOWN through the trajectory of the falling pellet as it travels downrange. The adjustments are subtle, but I will exaggerate them to illustrate. And, from this point on I will be talking about a scope.

Trajectory 1
This is what happens with your pellet gun and sights. The down angles are exaggerated to fit on this page.

In the drawing above the scope is adjusted to just touch the pellet at one place in its trajectory. The rifle would then be sighted in for that one distance. Notice that the line of sight and the trajectory stay together for some distance. You are actually sighted-in for all those distances. But that might only be 5-10 feet, because as the pellet falls it also gains speed. The downward curve gets steeper.

What it looks like to you

The drawing above is correct, but we don’t see it that way. When we hold the rifle and sight through the scope it looks like this.

Trajectory 2
We hold the rifle level, so the line of sight both appears and actually is level. The trajectory, which we know is always falling down from the muzzle now looks like this.

Drawing number two is the reason why some people think that a bullet or pellet rises after it leaves the muzzle. The truth is — the angle of the scope only makes it look that way.

Relationship of the sights to the bore

The sights are mounted above the axis of the bore. In the case of a scope, they are probably 1.5 inches or more above the center of the bore. If you were to touch a paper target with the muzzle of your rifle and shoot, and if you could look through the scope and see the same target paper, the difference between where you were looking and where the pellet hit the paper would be the same distance that the scope is above the bore.

Sight-in at 10-12 feet

This is why I begun sighting in my scopes in at 12 feet. I would do it at 10 feet, but the door jamb I use to steady the rifle is 12 feet from my pellet trap. Over such a short distance I don’t expect the pellet to “rise” very much. If the center of the scope is 2.2 inches above the center of the bore I expect the pellet to hit the target about 2.2-inches below the aim point. If it does and if the pellet is pretty close to the centerline left and right, I feel confident to back up to 10 meters (11 yards or about 33 feet).

If the scope is sighted to angle down correctly, I expect the pellet to strike the target about one inch below the aim point when I shoot at 10 meters. If it does, or after I adjust the scope I can get it to that point, I know I can back up to 25 yards and the pellet will be pretty close to right on target. Now let’s see why.

How I sight in a scope

For an air rifle shooting a pellet of any caliber at 825 f.p.s. (which is slightly over 12 foot-pounds for an 8-grain .177-caliber pellet) I sight in for 20 yards. You may have read about the first and second impact points. I will explain them now. First, look at the drawing.

Trajectory 3
In this drawing we have zoomed in for more detail. The line of sight has been adjusted to pass through the trajectory at 20 yards, meaning it is sighted-in at that distance. Then, as the pellet goes farther, it appears to rise just a bit above the line of sight. Then, at around 28 to 30 yards, the trajectory brings it back down to the line of sight again. read more


IZH MP532 target rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

IZH MP532
IZH MP532 single stroke target rifle.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Rough-looking stock
  • Haemmerli free pistol
  • Who is the rifle made for?
  • Also in the box
  • Bringing them back
  • ATF Sealant on the seals
  • Part two of the seal fix
  • I bought a second rifle
  • Rifle one from 2007
  • RWS Basic
  • Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Rifle two from 1997
  • Differences in the second rifle
  • RWS Basic first string
  • RWS Basic second string
  • RWS Meisterkugeln in rifle two
  • Trigger pull
  • Pumping effort
  • What have we learned?

Today we look at the velocity of the IZH MP532 10-meter target air rifle. I’m also going to tell you how I brought both of mine back from the grave — something so easy that you can do it too! But before we get to that I want to say a few words about some comments that were made to Part 1.

Rough-looking stock

The Soviets (and the Russians of today) had/have a different approach to target guns. They believe the shooter must shape the stock or grip to fit themselves. So, many Soviet/Russian target guns are sold with stocks and grips that are left in the raw. Perhaps the best example of this is the Soviet free pistol — the TOZ-35M.

TOZ-35M-right
The .22 LR Soviet TOZ-35M free pistol was sold with blocky grips that needed to be hand-fit to the shooter’s hands. There is no reluctance taking a rasp to something like this!

Haemmerli free pistol

Compare that rough blocky grip to one on a Haemmerli model 100 free pistol. It looks like an artistic sculpture, by comparison!

Hammerli 100 right profile
Compare the Russian pistol to this Haemmerli model 100 free pistol. It came to the buyer finished like this. I am intimidated from modifying a beautiful work of art like this.

Some Russian target guns are less rough and blocky, like the IZH 46 target air pistol. It was useable pretty much out of the box, but to get a better fit I had to use some wood putty.

IZH 46 grip
I had to apply some wood putty to the rear of my IZH 46 grip to get the pistol to sit right in my hand.

So, the IZH MP532 stock isn’t rough for cost savings. It’s a tradition of Russian target rifle makers and it’s intentional. And you will always see wood putty or rasp marks on a top competitor’s stock or grip, regardless of who made the gun.

Who is the rifle made for?

The MP532 isn’t a youth-sized air rifle and is cannot be easily modified to become one. It is intended for adult and near-adult shooters. But it is also not made to shoot at the world class level. Like I said last time, the Soviets shot world-class target airguns the same as everyone else. And their top shooters would have had the very best.

Rifles like the MP532 were made for everyone else. The wannabes. To have a small team of world-class target shooters, a nation needs a program in which thousands and even tens of thousands of shooters participate. That is the milk from which the cream rises. I used to participate in national matches that way. I was “nationally ranked,” but there were a host of better shooters ranked ahead of me.

A rifle like the MP532 and a pistol like the IZH 46 are for shooters in that category. I have shot in formal matches against shooters who were shooting Daisy 777 10-meter pistols. They were no competition for me, but if one of them started to show real promise, he or she might consider buying either a better but still inexpensive new target pistol or even a good used target pistol that had once been at the top.

Also in the box

Now, let’s talk about the two rifles I am going to test for you. The first one I bought came to me in its original box. As far as we could tell, it had never been used. The barreled action was out of the stock to fit in the box, but only two long screws that were provided were needed to put things together. I also got the traditional spare parts which consist of a second pump cup seal, a set of breech seals and a combination tool and pin punch to disassemble the rifle. There is also a long brass cleaning rod. The only thing I don’t have is the manual that includes the certificate of manufacture from the IZH arsenal.

MP532 seals
The replacement pump cup and two breech seals are in a sealed bag that I am not going to open!

MP532 tool
The combination tool has two screwdrivers (arrows) and a spanner at the bottom. The spanner is for removing the front sight, which you have to do to remove the weights. It’s in another sealed bag I will not open. read more