Crosman MAR 177: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman MAR
The MAR177 from Crosman.

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Baseline with Hobbys
  • Today’s test
  • What is the average?
  • Second page of numbers
  • What does “estimate 601” on page 2 mean?
  • But — what is the average velocity?
  • Photos
  • Pressure gauge and fill pressure
  • Big lesson
  • Balanced valve
  • How do I know the ending air pressure?
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Loading problems
  • Loudness
  • Summary

Today I test the velocity of the MAR177 I’m reviewing, and I have a baseline from the 2012 test I did, with which to compare it. Some of you asked me what velocity to expect. Well, it is all in the 6-part review I did on the first MAR177. Look at Part 3 of that series for the velocity test. 

Baseline with Hobbys

In that 2012 test I got an average of 609 f.p.s. from RWS Hobbys and the velocity varied by 32 f.p.s. The low was 593 f.p.s. and the high was 625 f.p.s. I got a shot count of 124 shots on one fill.

Today’s test

Today I shot 160 Hobbys on a fill. The fill pressure ranged from a high of 3200 psi to a low of about 2200 psi — according to my accurate carbon fiber tank gauge. Those starting and ending pressures are well above the pressure range of the first gun (which was 2900 psi to 1600 psi). read more


Crosman MAR 177: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman MAR
The MAR177 from Crosman.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Why muzzleloading pneumatics and gas guns are extremely dangerous
  • AR with a reservoir
  • Premium quality
  • Receiver difference
  • National Match trigger
  • AR firearm
  • Summary

Why muzzleloading pneumatics and gas guns are extremely dangerous

I am answering this discussion topic today because nobody had figured it out when I wrote up today’s report last Friday. Maybe someone did later, but I will answer it here so everyone understands. And just to let you know — I didn’t figure this out, either. Dennis Quackenbush was kind enough to explain it to me.

A pneumatic or gas gun may leak air or CO2 at any time. If it did, and if its forward escape path was blocked by a bullet in the barrel and the rear path was blocked by o-rings, pressure would build up until something let go. The most likely thing would be the bullet. In other words, a muzzleloading airgun can potentially fire at any time — if it is loaded and if there is a leak. Since a leak can occur at any time unannounced, a muzzle loading airgun is very dangerous. read more


Sig ASP MCX Virtus PCP air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig Virtus
Sig Virtus.

This report covers:

  • Lookalike and much more
  • Accuracy?
  • Hunting?
  • Semiautomatic
  • Description
  • Combination tool
  • Loading
  • Sights
  • Accessories
  • Air reservoir
  • Discharge sound
  • Trigger
  • Cocking
  • Safety
  • Summary

Lookalike and much more

The Sig ASP MCX Virtus PCP is a pellet-firing copy of Sig’s MCX Virtus Patrol rifle. The firearm weighs 7.9 lbs. The air rifle weighs 7.5 lbs. The air rifle is finished in gray, which is one of the finishes the firearm comes in. So there are a lot of similarities, but also a couple of important differences.

Sig is careful to report that the MCX Virtus Patrol is not an AR-15, because the buttstock folds to the left side of the rifle. There is no buffer tube on the Virtus firearm that an AR would require. The butt also adjusts to one of 5 positions to vary the length of pull. But the Virtus air rifle uses a 213cc air cylinder as its buttstock, so it neither folds nor adjusts for length. read more


What does the new year hold?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • What the new year holds
  • Big bores
  • High-tech projectiles
  • Price point PCPs (PPP)
  • Basic features of a PPP
  • Things that are good to have
  • Kiss of death for a PPP
  • Horsepower wars over?
  • Optics
  • Electronics in scopes
  • Scope mounts
  • Air compressors
  • Replica airguns
  • A dual-power spring-piston breakbarrel
  • M16 replica
  • M1 Garand replica
  • Summary
  • read more


    Sig Air M17 ProForce airsoft pistol: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier
    Sig M17 Proforce airsoft pistol
    Sig M17 ProForce airsoft pistol.
    This report covers:

  • ProForce line
  • CO2 powered
  • Blowback
  • Slide release
  • Weight
  • Trigger
  • Safety
  • Sights
  • Price
  • Disassembly
  • I own the firearm and the BB gun
  • The tests
  • Summary
  • read more


    Webley Mark VI service revolver with battlefield finish: Part 2

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Part 1

    Webley Mark VI
    Webley Mark VI service revolver with battlefield finish. This one is rifled and shoots pellets.

    This report covers:

    • History and new together
    • The firearm
    • Field strip
    • Differences between firearm and pellet gun
    • Disassembly of the pellet gun
    • Loading the pellet gun
    • The rear sight
    • Summary

    History and new together

    This is Monday when I usually write an historical report about an airgun or something. Well this is about the pellet revolver called the Webley Mark VI with battlefield finish, which is a modern air pistol, but today’s report will also be historical. Remember — I own both the pellet gun and the firearm it is patterned after.

    Normally Part 2 is the velocity report. Today, though, we will be looking at some things we don’t usually get to see in an airgun report. Let’s begin with one of the big ones — field stripping the revolver.

    The firearm

    The Webley Mark VI revolver was made for the military in World War I, which was 1914 to 1918. At that time it was considered essential for a military weapon to be two things. The first is rugged. It had to stand up to all sorts of abuse that might range from tropical heat and moisture, through desert sand and heat, arid mud and dirt and even polar cold. It isn’t easy for a firearm to tolerate all those environmental extremes and still function reliably. Guns like the P-08 Luger that were made at the same time were made from machined parts with tolerances so tight that they kept out a lot of the bad stuff, while guns like the M1911 were made purposely loose to function even when they were dirty. Both approaches work, though the guns with tight tolerances do tend to start failing when they get wet or dirty, and especially both. So you design holsters that keep them clean even in hostile environments.

    Luger holster
    The Luger holster surrounded the pistol, keeping dirt out to the extent possible.

    P08 open
    The design of the Luger with its tight tolerances makes it susceptible to any dirt that gets inside.

    1911 slide back
    The M1911 pistol was made with loose tolerances to tolerate dirt better than guns like the Luger.

    Semiautomatic pistols were a pretty new technology in WW1, but revolvers had been around for many more years. Revolvers also have tight tolerances. In many cases, and certainly in a double action revolver like the Mark VI, they are much tighter than the parts in a semiautomatic pistol, but for wartime use they also had to be designed loose to handle the dirt. That’s hard to do with a revolver, whose chambers in the revolving cylinder have to align precisely with the breech of the barrel so the bullet isn’t shaved off on one side when it jumps the gap from cylinder to barrel. A semiautomatic has a barrel that the cartridge is loaded into, so misalignment at this point isn’t an issue.

    Webley locks up the loose cylinder in the Mark VI by lifting the bolt and rocking it forward when the trigger is pulled. This jams the cylinder into a semi-locked state at the moment of firing. The rest of the time it rocks side to side loosely and feels sloppy.

    Webley bolt
    The Webley bolt (arrow) rocks up and forward a few hundredths of an inch to lock the cylinder in alignment with the rear of the barrel.

    The pellet gun uses the same technique for locking the cylinder and indeed locks up even tighter than the firearm. Of course it isn’t more than a century old, either!

    Field strip

    The other thing a military sidearm must do is disassemble easily and quickly for cleaning and repair. It must not have any parts that can easily become broken or lost. The P08 Luger gets an F rating in this category, as it is not easy to disassemble. In its day the score would probably have been a C or better, because that was the state of the technology at the time. The 1911, in contrast, was rated an A back in its day and still gets a C today. Most double action revolvers were Fs for disassembly and haven’t improved much in the intervening century.

    The Webley Mark VI, in sharp contrast to other revolvers, rates a A for ease of disassembly and cleaning, and a B for small parts loss, because one screw has to be removed from the gun. If you have a pocket or pouch to hold it while you clean — no problem.

    Disassemble the gun any further and you are going where the designers never intended you to go. But for cleaning this is as far as you need to go because the barrel is already broken open for access.

    Differences between firearm and pellet gun

    The disassembly is one place where small differences between firearm and pellet gun show up. Once the disassembly screw is removed from the firearm the owner rotates the cylinder cam lever counter-clockwise (or anti-clockwise, as the Brits say it) and presses it against the cylinder cam that is spring-loaded. When the cam is moved slightly the cylinder becomes free and can be removed from the axis for cleaning.

    Note the wide slot in the head of the firearm disassembly screw. It is slotted to accept a sixpence — which is one more item you’ll need in your kit if you want to remain true to form. If you want to be a yank, an American quarter or nickel works well.

    Webley screw
    The firearm disassembly screw was slotted to fit a common coin soldiers might have.

    Webley sixpence
    The old silver sixpence was 19mm in diameter — slightly smaller than an American nickel. An American quarter also fits the screw head nicely and gives you more to grab. read more


    Sig Sauer P320 M17 CO2 pellet pistol: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Sig M17 pellet pistoll
    Sig Sauer P320 M17 pellet pistol.

    This report covers:

    • M17 differences
    • M17 pellet pistol
    • My grand plan
    • What’s up?
    • Lookalikes are coming to the top
    • Back to the M17 pellet pistol
    • Operation
    • Disassembly
    • Same heft
    • Summary

    To all our American readers I want to wish a very happy Thanksgiving. Now, on to today’s report.

    On January 19, 2017 it was announced that the U.S. Army had selected the Sig Sauer P320 pistol for their new Modular Handgun System. The full-sized gun is called the M17 and the carry-sized weapon is the M18. The rest of the U.S. armed forces also have or will have this sidearm. The nominal caliber for the U.S. military is the 9X19mm pistol cartridge that is best-known as the 9mm Luger.

    M17 differences

    The M17 is not just a P320 by a different name. The Army specified certain performance requirements for their pistol and they require Sig to maintain a strict separation in their plants between Army contract guns and similar civilian guns. This not only covers the finished guns but also all parts.

    M17 pellet pistol

    Today I begin the test of the Sig M17 pellet pistol — a 20-shot semiautomatic pellet pistol that closely copies the M17 service pistol. It comes in Coyote Tan — the same finish as the firearm, and, just like on the firearm, the metal slide is a little darker than the synthetic frame. On the firearm the slide is stainless steel. The pellet pistol slide is a non-ferrous metal. Both pistols have synthetic frames, though the firearm does has stainless steel inserts for wear resistance.

    Sig M17 machining
    On the tour of Sig we watched them machine solid billets of steel into finished firearm slides.

    My grand plan

    Sig says the pellet pistol weighs and hefts very much like the firearm and I decided to check out that claim. If you have read this blog for most of this year you know what I am about to say, but I restate it here to inform the newer readers. At this year’s Shot Show in January, Bob Li of Action Support Games (ASG) introduced me to the CZ75 SP-01 Shadow BB pistol. He was so taken with that BB gun because of how closely it copies the firearm. I have already done a 4-part report on the BB pistol, and in that report I informed you that I purchased a 9mm CZ75 SP-01 firearm so I could evaluate Bob’s claim.

    That started the ball rolling, and when I visited the Sig booth at the same show, Dani Navickas put the new Sig P365 BB pistol in my hand (still not on the market as of this writing). I was blown away by the small size of the BB pistol. Because it is an exact copy of the firearm, I bought one in 9mm, as well, so I could test both of them side-by-side, as well. That firearm has turned out to be my new carry pistol and is also my new favorite all-around handgun. A HUGE report is awaiting the release of that BB pistol.

    And then in July Sig sent out an email announcing a limited run of commemorative M17 pistols for civilians. I tried to place an order for one, but they were all sold before I could get my order in. They had been probably all been sold since the SHOT Show. But Sig did have a similar 9mm P320 M17 pistol that was available (it gets confusing, right?). Would I be interested in one of them? It is a close copy of the Army M17 and, since the Army pistol started out as a P320, I was interested. A third order was placed for a third firearm that has an airgun equivalent!

    What’s up?

    What am I doing? Have I lost my mind? Why am I buying firearms to go along with air pistols? Isn’t that backwards? The answer is one word — realism. Lookalike airguns have been around for decades, but this new crop is so realistic that it bears further scrutiny.

    These new guns weigh the same, look the same, have the same controls, handle the same and fit in the same holsters. You will have an extremely hard time telling one from another when they are both in your hands, and I wanted to be on the ground floor of this movement.

    Lookalikes are coming to the top

    When people ask me what’s big in airguns these days I always say hunting, and more specifically, big bore hunting. That is where the sharp point of the principal market increase has been for about a decade.

    BUT — and this is a really big but — lookalike airguns have also arrived and are heating up to become the next major theme. Shooters today don’t have the same background as people from my generation. They haven’t been exposed to firearms through many diverse channels while growing up, so a realistic sidearm that’s a pellet or BB pistol suddenly makes sense in a way it never did in the past. It provides a way for a shooter to train on something that is realistic yet far safer and less expensive to operate, and that multiplies their possible trigger time. This new Sig M17 pellet pistol fits comfortably into this exciting category and I now have the 9mm pistol to compare it to.

    That’s what’s behind this mega-series that I’m writing. I haven’t even figured out all the tests I need to do with both the airguns and the firearms they copy. But I will! I love my job!

    Back to the M17 pellet pistol

    Sig showed us this pistol while we airgun writers were with them in July (to see the development of the ASP20 breakbarrel rifle) and I was amazed to see just how accurate it is. We all shot it at 10 meters and one of our number — John Bright of Highland Outdoors in the UK — shot incredibly small groups. I tried to keep up with him to no avail. That Brit can shoot!

    Sig M17 shooting
    John Bright used the M17 pellet pistol to school the rest of us on how it’s done.

    Operation

    The pistol operates in the conventional way, by a CO2 cartridge in the grip. The cartridge fits inside a removable drop-free magazine assembly that also houses a 20-round removable pellet magazine. I reviewed the Sig X-Five ASP pellet pistol for you back in June-August of this year. You might think, like I did, that the M17 is just the X-Five in a different color, but you would be wrong. The magazine assembly of the M17 is entirely different than the one found on the X-Five ASP. In the M17 both the pellet clip and the CO2 cartridges fit inside the same drop-free mag assembly, where in the X-Five they are separate.

    Sig M17 mag piercing
    The bottom of the mag assembly pops off and the back pulls down as a lever for piercing the CO2 cartridge.

    Sig M17 mag features
    The pellets and CO2 both fit in the M17 mag assembly. Push that button (yellow arrow) and the pellet clip (blue arrow) pops out of the assembly for loading.

    Disassembly

    One thing these lookalike guns do that appeals to everyone is disassemble. They don’t always have the same parts as the firearms they copy, but the method of disassembly is usually the same.

    Sig M17 disassembled
    The M17 pellet pistol comes apart in a way similar to the firearm.

    Same heft

    Like the firearm, the pellet pistol has a synthetic frame and a metal slide. It has full blowback, so you get the impulse of firing and the weight of the slide gives a good whack to your hand every time the pistol fires.

    I have both the pellet pistol and the firearm. I will tell you this — the P320 M17 firearm is a little different than the straight M17. I won’t bore you with the minutia, but my P320 M17 firearm is single action only while the military M17 is DAO. The pellet pistol is DAO as well, so when you fire the gun the blowback action of the slide advances the magazine to the next pellet but the trigger is still double action. That said, this is the lightest double action I have ever encountered. The specs say 6 pounds to pull the trigger and I have to admit that it feels that light. I think the next-lightest double action pull I have ever measured was more than 9 pounds.

    Sig M17 two pistols
    The P320 M17 pellet pistol on top and the P320 M17 firearm below. The air pistol has an extended mag that’s also available for the firearm. read more