Get your Weedies!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Bug Buster spawns crabgrass killer
  • Da bomb
  • Weedies
  • A side benefit
  • Safety
  • Dandelions may be possible
  • Summary

Most of you are aware of the UTG Bug Buster line of compact scopes from Leapers. They got their name from the practice in which some airgunners shoot bugs in their yard with pellet rifles. All the Bug Buster scopes parallax adjust (focus) down to 3 yards or nine feet, which makes them perfect for this pastime. Well, now they have spawned a new airgun product — the Weedie!

Bug Buster spawns crabgrass killer

Leapers owner, David Ding, was working in his yard pulling out crabgrass by the roots when it dawned on him that there must be a better way. Could an airgun somehow be converted into a crabgrass eliminator? He already had a line of scopes that was backyard-friendly; could they be used to also get rid of the tenanceous weeds?

David’s wife, Tina, knows quite a few people in local colleges and one of them is a young biochemist graduate student who is working on his PhD research project in herbicides. He is specifically interested in weed tolerance and their resistance to herbicides. More importantly for what is to follow — he is also an airgunner!

Da bomb

What he discovered is the absolute best way to eliminate crabgrass after it emerges is to inject a concentrated solution of of Quinclorac (3,7 dichloro-8-quinolinecarboxylic acid) into the center of the stolons, or tough round runners that give the weed its name. Where they come together is the top of the root of the plant. By breaking through the tough sheath of the stolons at this root, a very small amount of the concentrated Quinclorac will quickly absorb into the root bunch and kill the mature plant before it sends out seeds.

The amount of solution required is smaller than a drop from an eye dropper, and, because the solution has a high surface tension, the drops it forms are very small. The researcher discovered that he could put the right amount of solution into the hollow of a .177-caliber hollowpoint pellet, and just two pellets were all that was needed to kill each crabgrass plant! The process is 100 percent effective and results will be seen in less than 48 hours. The solution is solidified with a bonding agent, so the pellets can be handled safely. Exposure to the liquid in the crabgrass root turns the solution liquid again and the crabgrass root absorbs it readily.

One pellet will kill about 60 percent of all plants. Two pellets are absolutely positive. When hit in the right place with two of these pellets, no plant will survive. Now, you may think that it’s possible to just walk around the yard and shoot the plants at point-blank range, but where’s the fun in that? You can also poke holes in targets with a pencil and use your finger to knock down field targets, but it’s much more fun to do it with an air rifle.

All 2018 the researcher, Roger, killed crabgrass in David Ding’s backyard, and by the end of the year he had perfected his delivery system that consists of a Benjamin Marauder set to deliver the .177 hollowpoint pellets at 650 f.p.s. at the muzzle. Out to 35 yards that delivery system is effective. It does help to get some elevation over the lawn, to get the pellet down into the root bunch, and Roger found that a small stepladder worked well. But a deck is the perfect place from which to shoot.

In 2019 Roger took aim at the crabgrass in David’s front lawn and achieved 100 percent success. The next year the front lawn had less than 10 percent of the crabgrass from the year prior, and that was around the borders — undoubtedly from windblown seeds originating in the lawns of neighbors.

David was impressed by both the performance of the treatment and also by its application. Because some of the shots were very close, Roger mounted a Bug Buster 3-12X32 on his rifle and he let David share in the fun. Crabgrass may not move like an insect, but it is far more difficult to kill. Those pellets have to hit right in the center of all those long arms, which is the top of the root.

When a Weedie kills a crabgrass plant, the entire plant withers and dries out. You can leave it in the ground and it will be replaced by desirable grass or when you see that it’s dry you can pull it out of the ground easily. The root looses its purchase on the ground when the plant dies.

David Ding was so impressed by the success of this treatment and also by the unique application method that he commissioned Roger to hand-make 300 pellets for further trials. He then got three airgunners, including old B.B. Pelletier, to try it last year and each of us had the same results as he and Roger. I don’t know what guns the others used but I used a .177-caliber Diana 27S with open sights that is accurate enough out to 20 yards to deliver the pellets to the center of the crabgrass clumps every time.

Diana 27S
I used a Diana 27S to shoot my Weedies. So a spring-piston air rifle works just as well as a precharged rifle.

Weedies

David was encouraged by our early reports and he convinced a small U.S. pellet importer to make tins of 150 Wheedies that will retail for $15.95. While that sounds expensive (it’s just under 11 cents a pellet), compare it to the cost of commercial crabgrass killers that really work! They sell for a lot of money and usually get results in the 30-50 percent range. Weedies are 100 percent effective when used correctly! Because of the limited supply available, Weedies will be sold exclusively through Pyramyd Air.

A side benefit

While I was playing with my Weedies I discovered that they also kill St. Augustine grass that, in my opinion, is just as much a weed as crabgrass. My neighbor’s yard is St. Augustine and it was creeping over and replacing my Bermuda grass that looks better and which I spend a lot of time and money to keep up. St. Augustine creeps along the top of the ground like a weed and crowds out anything it contacts. As long as you water the heck out of it, it stays green, but the fat leaves look like crabgrass to me. And Weedies get rid of them! Oops!

Safety

Because you are handling a highly concentrated herbicide, each tin comes with the recommendation to wear latex or nitrile gloves when shooting. At the minimum, if you don’t wear gloves, you have to wash your hands with soap and water after each use.

It goes without saying that Weedies are not to be shot at any living animal. Your only target is crabgrass (and St. Augustine). Roger says the pellet delivery system itself is more dangerous to mammals and rodents than the solution in the hollow point, but the solution is so concentrated that it will not do an animal any good.

Dandelions may be possible

Roger found that his formula isn’t as effective on dandelions that also infest yards, but he is working to perfect one that is. However there is a problem with that. So many people eat dandelion plants that he has to make his formula safe for human consumption. Because, if a person ate a dandelion plant after it was treated by a Weedie, the herbicide would be throughout the plant. So the dandelion Weedie may take a while to develop. On the other hand, Weedies for most types of thistles, including Canada thistle, are almost ready for market.

Summary

This report is unique in that an unlikely airgun product, the UTG Bug Buster, served as the foundation for another unlikely airgun product — the Weedie. Will Weedies prosper? That’s difficult to say and only time will tell for certain. I remember Flava Shots .

“Chef de Cuisine Antonio Bologna of the world-knowned Aria Diabolo Pallina game restaurant has created Flava Shots, the first edible pellet. It takes advantage of a new compression technology that creates a dense pellet that will not fall apart or crumble during loading and shooting. It’s so rock hard that it has the same penetration effect as a lead pellet. The Flava Shot pellet dispatches the game and later infuses it with savory herbs and spices during the cooking process.

To maximize the cooking process, Chef Bologna suggests that airgunners lube their airgun barrels with food oils. This reduces friction, delivers a small boost to velocity and brings a delicious flavor to cooked meat. His favorite oil is macadamia nut, but he’s also experimented successfully with plain and roasted sesame oils.”

Today we have learned about Weedies. They could be the next revolution in lawn herbicide treatments. We all laughed when chef Tony Bologna came out with Flava Shots, but who’s laughing now?


Let’s have fun!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Background
  • A powerful breakbarrel rifle
  • A new multi-pumpA hunting pellet
  • Youth target pellet rifle
  • You’re cookin’
  • What’s this?
  • Seen it all before
  • Summary

How about a weekend of fun? I have a game for everyone. It came to me yesterday as I was writing the report about the Norma S-Target Match pellet. It occurred to me that was a long name for a pellet. So, what name would be better?

Background

There is a back story to today’s report. When I went to Fort Lewis, Washington, for ROTC Summer Camp in 1968, I spent several days in Vancouver, British Columbia, before reporting to camp. I was traveling with a buddy and we just wanted to see the sights up there. I remember seeing my first Canadian car — an Acadian Invader! It looked like a Pontiac to me, and when we saw a Beaumont, which was an upscale model, we knew that’s what it was. I have since learned that GM Canada used both Pontiac and Chevrolet platforms for what they made and sold to our northern cousins — eh!

That experience started me on a lifetime of pondering product names, and today I’d like us to generate some product names for airguns and related products. I’ll get you started.

A powerful breakbarrel rifle

Let’s pretend that we are the marketing team responsible to come up with a name for a new .25-caliber breakbarrel hunting rifle our company is about to bring out. It’s large, very powerful and extremely hard to cock. Here are the names the team has come up with so far.

Harvester 30 (for 30 foot-pounds in .25 caliber — from the president of the company)
Super Schuetzen (from old Dan the engineer, who’s been with the company 35 years)
YZP25 (from Carl, who thinks letters and numbers are better than words)
Ulysses 25 (from Donna, who thinks the rifle is too hard to cock)

Can you do better?

A new multi-pump

We have just sourced a new multi-pump air pistol from Taiwan. It’s .177 only and very accurate. It has a good 3-pound trigger and crisp adjustable sights. The manufacturer calls it the Brilliant Light. What should we call it?

A hunting pellet

We just struck a deal with a Brazilian pellet manufacturer. They have a high-tech .22-caliber hollowpoint hunting pellet that expands to twice its diameter at just 500 f.p.s. We have seen it demonstrated and it does work, so we will be selling it in the U.S. It is a domed pellet that has cuts in the hollow dome that open immediately when meeting resistance. It flies like a dome and opens like a hollowpoint. In Brazil they call it the Mako Shark. Here are the team’s suggestions.

Donna wants to call it the Lotus22 because it opens like a flower.
Carl wants to call it the DQP22
The president wants to call it the Meg22
Dan wants to call it the 22 Expander

Oh, on this one the art department is limiting the number of characters in the name to 12, including spaces. That’s because the name has to fit on a label on the tin and be recognizable on a storeroom shelf.

Youth target pellet rifle

The company has just struck a deal to purchase the rights to the Air Venturi Bronco from Mendoza. We want to make the rifle easier to cock (by lengthening the barrel jacket), to slim down the stock considerably and install target-style sights — with a peep sight in the rear and a hooded front sight that takes replaceable inserts. The president of the company likes the Bronco’s two-blade trigger for both its safety and for its smooth release. The straight Bronco would sell to us for $95 if we commit to purchase 1,000. With a Mendoza peep sight, a hooded front sight and an adjustable trigger stop (just a screw through the triggerguard) that we will install until the Mendoza factory gets up to speed, our cost rises to $119.00. We have to add $40 to that cost for modifying the trigger stops in-house on the first 100 rifles, to give Mendoza time to gear up for it, but the decision has been made to amortize that expense across the first 1,000 sales.

The president has told our team that he sees this rifle as an upscale youth target rifle that can compete in the Student Air Rifle program (SAR). He plans on charging $175 to SAR competitors and clubs and $225 to the general public.

He wants a name that conveys quality, excellence and value. What do we call it?

The president also wants a name for the trigger.

You’re cookin’

Okay, that should get your creative juices flowing. Now, name the following products.

A 10-40X60 scope with a 34mm tube that has a mil-dot reticle with illuminated dots that the shooter controls. The shooter determines which dot gets illuminated. This scope is no longer than a 4-16, and just as bright at 40X as the 4-16 is at 16X.

A precharged pneumatic that has a huge air reservoir and a max fill pressure of 1,800 psi. In .177 caliber it fires JSB 10.34-grain domes at 950 f.p.s. and gets 60 shots per fill. The rifle weighs 8 lbs. without a scope, due to a type IV carbon fiber reservoir. There is no regulator but the balanced valve gives all 60 shots with a maximum 18 f.p.s. spread. Twenty-two and twenty-five calibers will follow if the .177 is successful. The projected price will be $1,200.

A new wadcutter pellet with a thin ring of lead around the edge of the nose. Testing has shown it to be hyper accurate in target air rifles that need pellets with heads sized 4.49mm to 4.52mm. It costs about double to produce, so they will be sold in trays of 200.

new pellet
The new pellet with adaptable head sizes.

A bipod whose left leg holds up to 30 pellets and whose right leg detaches and contains a folding knife, Torx wrenches in sizes T6, T7 and T8, a ballpoint pen and scissors.

What’s this?

Now tell us what the following product names apply to.

  • Eagle Claw
  • Civet
  • Torque release
  • Restraint
  • Bombard
  • Momentum
  • Hyperion

Seen it all before

In the late 1990s I became incensed when Crosman applied the name Blue Streak to a breakbarrel rifle in the Benjamin line. In fact today the name is so confused there are people selling Benjamin-Sheridan 397 rifles on eBay. Tell me that isn’t wrong!

Dennis Quackenbush called his kit to make an outside lock air rifle the Amaranth. That one fooled everyone. 

And Walther used the name LGV for their new line of breakbarrel sporting rifles a few years ago when most of us silverbacks knew it as a breakbarrel target rifle from the ’70s.

Summary

I know some of you will enjoy doing this exercise, the point of which is to demonstrate that it isn’t easy coming up with product names that convey a sense of the product. Let’s see what you can do.


A first look at a RAW: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

RAW
The RAW field target rifle built on the new chassis frame.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Website and blog update
  • It was a cold and windy day
  • The rifle
  • Power set at max
  • November 23 Accuracy Testing
  • December 26 — cold-weather and moderator testing
  • January 2 Accuracy Testing
  • January 8 Accuracy Testing
  • Summary

Website and blog update

Pyramyd Air will be redoing the website and the blog design next week. The anticipated cutover date is Wednesday evening, 1/27/21. Therefore today is my last blog posting before the new site goes live next Thursday. There is a possibility that the blog will also be dark on Thursday, 1/28/21.

Nobody likes missing the blog for several days, but I will use the time to get several things done that take a lot of time. Please bear with us as we make this transition. Now on to today’s report.

A special look inside development

I hope you readers appreciate what this report is giving you. Reader Cloud9 is testing a purpose-built RAW field target rifle. It’s not that RAW rifles haven’t competed in field target before. Many have. But this is the first one built especially for that purpose. You are getting a look over the shoulder of a field target competitor as he sorts out his new match outfit. We talk about stuff like this all the time on this blog but seeing it is quite rare.

It was a cold and windy day

Remember that nasty 40-degree day I reported to you on January 12, when I tested the BSA R10 Mark II? We were all surprised at the greater-that-one-inch groups I got from an air rifle that’s supposed to be quite accurate, but several of you allowed that it’s difficult to shoot at 50 yards when you’re cold and the wind is blowing. Reader Yogi even said he read the weather report and the wind was gusting 15-20 mph, while I had reported 5-10 mph. The wind came from my back, so downrange it was swirling.

Seated next to me was Cloud9, shooting his RAW for the umpteenth time. He was trying to find the one best pellet for the rifle, and this was not a good day to do that. Still, it was what it was.

Remember that this RAW has to shoot at less than 12 foot-pounds because Cloud9 is competing in the World Field Target Federation (WFTF) class that restricts the power of the rifle. In his own words:

The rifle

My rifle is a new RAW TM1000 in .177 caliber, set up to shoot just under 12 foot-pounds muzzle energy to be legal for World Field Target Federation competitions in the US and around the world.  It was manufactured in Burleson, TX and Minor Hill, TN.  The parts were produced in the AirForce factory in Texas because this gun was built after the acquisition of RAW by AirForce in 2018.  It has the same tried and true TM1000 action, but in a new aluminum chassis.  It has a single-shot breech, a regulator, a 250bar (3600psi) titanium pressure vessel, a black aluminum chassis and an AR-15 buffer tube and adjustable buttstock. I added a RAW butthook in place of the buttpad, and also a Rowan Engineering adjustable forend (that I call a hamster), and a very comfortable ergonomic target grip.

Power set at max

Part One of this report concluded with data derived on October 30 and 31 of 2020. I was trying to shoot the JSB Exact 8.44-grain dome because at my power threshold I get velocities of between 790 and 800 f.p.s. I am right at 12 foot-pounds when this pellet reaches 800.09 f.p.s.

I leave the FX Radar Pocket Wireless Chronograph attached to the outside of my moderator and it tells me the velocities of each shot through my smart phone. That way I know what each shot does without having to concentrate on a set of skyscreens. I am free to concentrate on the targets. The radar measures velocity as the pellet leaves the muzzle and I have determined that this chronograph is within 5 f.p.s. of what my other chrony registers.

RAW FX radar chrono
I use the FX Radar chrono attached to my moderator.

November 23 Accuracy Testing

Today, I went back out to the range very early to shoot some more groups. There were a few differences this time. First, instead of shootiung off a bench I shot while sitting on my bum bag with my shooting coat on. I supported the rifle on my knee and nestled the butt hook in my shoulder. This is how I shoot in matches. I had decided to see how the rifle shoots under actual match conditions.  

Second, I was shooting next to the concrete wall that separates the 100-yard range I was on from its neighbor range, so there was very little wind to affect my shots.  However, what very slight wind there was tended to swirl and was unpredictable.  I ended up shooting 80 shots @ 60yards using JSB 4.50mm pellets.  I didn’t use the 4.51mm head size because they were in very short supply, and the 4.50mm are very plentiful.  I plan to sort some more pellets this week, so that I have plenty of 4.51mm to shoot going forward.  Here are the results of my shooting session.  At 60 yards, my rifle with this pellet will shoot 1.30” groups or 2 MOA.

RAW FX 60 shots
Eighty shots at 60 yards.

That group size is larger than I expected, and I believe there are some contributing factors.  To start, there was some wind swirling that I know moved some pellets slightly. This was shot at 60 yards.  Next, when shooting off a bumbag and supporting the rifle, it is not as steady as it can be while supported with shooting bags on a bench.  

Finally, I noticed that if I didn’t hold the rifle exactly the same each time (same pressure on grip, same supporting pressure on hamster, same support of right elbow on right knee, and same smooth trigger pull where I am surprised when it goes off, then the pellet would not hit where I was aiming. 

The hold-sensitivity is something I am going to have to work on to reduce or if I cannot do that, then I will have to adapt to it.  One thing I may try is adding weights to the rifle to increase its inertia, or resistance to movement.  A heavier rifle should be less hold-sensitive because it will not move as much when fired.

December 26 — cold-weather and moderator testing

Back at the end of October, I mentioned that with colder temps I was experiencing a poi change that I needed to understand better.  In the first portion of this article, there were some questions asked on the blog about my terminology of scope shift and clarifications were made by myself and others. 

To summarize, at cold temperatures using the side-focus wheel, my scope ranges approximately 4 yards short at 55 yards (indicates 51 yards instead of 55 yards).  Because the scope ranging was slightly short at the last field target match, I had unknowingly added fewer clicks for elevation than I should for what was in reality a 55 yard target. My pellets landed low on the target and I missed!  The poi change was caused by a scope ranging error and not by any other changes in the scope or velocity changes in the gun.  Now that I know to add up to 4 yards to long distance targets over 45 yards, my pellets hit where I aim.

I also mentioned that it seemed the rifle was a little more hold-sensitive than I preferred. To add some weight to the rifle, I removed the the adjustable stock that came with the rife and installed a Magpul PRS Gen3 Precision-Adjustable Stock.  The Magpul’s cheek rest and buttpad have precision dial adjusters with firm clicks that keep them locked in place.  In addition, there is no flex to the buttstock as a result of its robust construction and added mass.

RAW Magpul PRS stock
Magpul PRS buttstock.

Now for the testing, all of which was from the bench using sandbags.  I shot Air Arms 8.44-grain pellets with 4.49mm diameter heads, JSB 8.44-grain pellets with 4.50mm diameter heads and H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64-grain pellets with 4.51mm diameter heads today.  That is a smattering of pellets, and the reason is that I have a baseline for the Air Arms and JSBs of this size but I didn’t have any of my preferred 4.51mm yet.  I decided to try some H&N FTT pellets that are 4.51mm, just to see what would happen.

With the new stock, the group sizes for the Air Arms & JSB pellets were about the same as in previous testing, but it was a little easier to achieve those groups. Perhaps this result is because the added mass of the new buttstock has settled the rifle down a bit and allowed me to hold it more consistently. Or maybe the result was all psychological and I was just shooting more consistently on this day.  I really cannot attribute any improvement to the stock, but I prefer the way the rifle now feels in my hands, especially during a shot.

I wanted to see what the H&N FTT pellets would do, but the group sizes were larger than the Air Arms or JSB, so I quickly decided these weren’t the pellets for this gun.  I do really like these pellets in my HW-97K springers though.

For one final change today, I shot the rifle both with and without the silencer to determine its effect on group sizes. I did see a poi change when adding and removing the silencer, but I could not definitively say that the group sizes were better or worse with or without it.  I will shoot with it going forward, because I like the sound of silence!

January 2 Accuracy Testing

To try and learn some more about my rifle with the intent to reduce the size of the groups, I investigated the effect of increasing and decreasing the velocity that it sends pellets downrange.  After some reading on the internet, I began thinking that perhaps the pellets’ forward velocity was slowing more rapidly than the spin rate at longer distances and perhaps causing them to nutate and precess, resulting in a spiral at longer distances that decreased accuracy. One way to find out is to increase and decrease the muzzle velocity of the pellet and the resulting rotational RPM from the barrel twist, then I can evaluate those changes on group size.  There was no wind this morning, so any group size changes shouldn’t be skewed arbitrarily by it.  All of today’s testing was from the bench using sandbags using JSB 8.44-grain 4.50mm head pellets.

So far, I can say that I’m not seeing much difference in group size by slowing the pellets down.  I started at 795 f.p.s. and reduced the velocity in 20 f.p.s. steps to 740 f.p.s., but the group sizes looked the same.  I also increased the velocity to 820 f.p.s. before I had to halt my testing session and I saw some improvement, but I cannot be sure without further testing.  To be clear, I was testing at muzzle energies greater than 12 foot-pounds, but I won’t be able to do the same in a WFTF field target match.  I would show my results, but I can’t find the targets from this day, so I’ll have to do this over at a later date. 

January 8 Accuracy Testing

This morning, I finally had a chance to test a tin of JSB 8.44-grain, 4.53mm head size pellets that arrived over Christmas.  I never trust the labels on the tins of pellets for head size or weight, so I sorted the tin using the PelletgageR from Jerry Cupples.  Approximately 50 percent of the tin had pellets with head sizes between 4.51 to 4.53mm, with the other half being smaller than 4.51mm.

I also tested about 20 JSB 10.3-grain pellets that Tom Gaylord brought for me, but these weren’t sorted.  I quickly sorted them into 2 piles (4.50mm & 4.51mm).  Tom promised to send me some other pellets that are 4.52mm or larger to test next time. 

All of today’s testing was from the bench using sandbags at 50 yards.  The temperature was 42 degrees F and the winds were swirling at about 9 mph on the range.  The wind definitely affected the group sizes.  I tried to keep notes about when the wind blew or not and resulted in obvious flyers, so that I could try and exclude those shots in my analysis and determine the true capability of the rifle and ammo.

I started with the JSB 10.3-grain pellets from Tom.  These pellets came out of the muzzle at 735 f.p.s.

RAW JSB 10.3 pellets

You can see in this first group that the 14-shot group is 1.144” (2.19 MOA) CTC which is not promising, but the wind was blowing from left to right mostly, so if I try and exclude the probable flyers, the group size shrinks to .685” (1.31 MOA) which is very promising.

Group size was 1.039 inches (1.99MOA) with these JSB pellets, so I think they are not the right ones either.  I do plan to test some additional JSB 10.3-grain pellets when I get some 4.52mm head sizes.

Now I moved on to my sorted JSB 8.44-grain 4.52mm head size pellets, flying downrange at 795 f.p.s. On these next targets I tried to focus on getting 5 good shots and ignoring obvious flyers or impacts affected by wind.

RAW JSB sorted pellets 1

Throwing out three fliers from wind, my first 5-shot group at 50 yards measured just over one-half inch!

EDITOR’S NOTE: I will break in here because I was there to witness what happened. After this first group Cloud9 was very excited. Had he finally found the right pellet for his rifle? He sure hoped so!

RAW JSA 844 sorted pellets 2
Group 2 is 3/8-inches (0.375-inches) between centers at 50 yards and only one pellet is disregarded.

RAW JSA 844 sorted pellets 3
This 50-yard group is slightly larger than the last, at 0.401-inches between centers, but there are no fliers!

RAW JSA 844 sorted pellets 4
These five shots are in 0.201-inches at 50 yards. Sure there are two fliers, but even with them this group is well under an inch.

Summary

I’m going to stop there. Cloud9 was beside himself at this point, because I had been shooting inch-plus groups right next to him with a rifle that was far more powerful. And up to this point, he had been doing p[retty much the same thing. This JSB pellet with a sorted 4.53mm head was looking very good in his rifle.

I had now switched to shooting the .458 Texan that I also recently reported to you. When I finished with that we both ended our range day and went to AirForce to share the goods news with John McCaslin. He was delighted to learn of the success of the day and he and Cloud9 spent some time talking about the design of the field target RAW. I left to start writing my next blog.

There is more to come, but we are taking this slow because there is so much to digest as the testing unfolds.


Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP Air Rifle: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Marauder Semiauto
Benjamin’s new Semiauto Marauder repeating PCP.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Important announcement
  • Back with the Benjamin SAM
  • Pulled the baffles
  • Loading single shot
  • The test
  • Crosman Premiers
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • Air Arms 16-grain domes
  • Discussion
  • UTG scope was a huge benefit!
  • Summary

Important announcement

Pyramyd Air will be redoing the website and the blog design next week. The anticipated cutover date is Wednesday evening, 1/27/21. Therefore my last blog posting before the new site goes live next Thursday will be this Friday, 1/22/21. There is a possibility that the blog will also be dark on Thursday, 1/28/21.

Nobody likes missing the blog for several days, but I will use the time to get several things done that take a lot of time. Please bear with us as we make this transition. I will remind you of this tomorrow and Friday, too. Now on to today’s report.

Back with the Benjamin SAM

Okay, we’re back at it with the Benjamin Semiautomatic Marauder again today! Today will be a quicky but also an important-y. Brilliant reader, Kevin, reminded me of how I could bypass the SAM magazine by loading singly and see what the rifle was really doing. Reader GunFun1 said his SAM was shooting way better than what I showed you in Part 4. So — today is the day we find out for sure!

Pulled the baffles

Reader RidgeRunner advised me to pull all the baffles first, to verify that none of them was being hit by a pellet. I pulled all seven of them and the large holes through each one are clearly not being touched by pellets. We can rule out the baffles as a problem that causes inaccuracy. That leaves either the barrel or the magazine. Given that this is a semiauto, I suspect the magazine. Loading each pellet singly will make the determination.

Loading single shot

Because of the narrow SAM receiver slot that’s cut for the magazine, loading pellets single shot is not straightforward. At least it wasn’t for me. I tried needle-nosed pliers with a long thin nose, but what worked best was a hemostat — long thin clamping pliers used by surgeons. I didn’t clamp them. I only held onto each pellet loosely until the bolt pushed the pellet into the rifle’s chamber.

The test

I tried to repeat the first accuracy test from 25 yards exactly. The rifle was rested directly on a sandbag at 25 yards and the pellets were loaded singly. I positioned a light to shine on the breech so I could see to load the pellets. Care was taken not to damage them in any way. I did not adjust the scope for this test, but I will have more to say about the scope in a bit.

Crosman Premiers

In the first test that is covered in Part 4 I sighted-in with Crosman Premiers and also shot the smallest group of 10 with them. It measured 0.454-inches between centers.

Loading singly this time 10 Crosman Premiers went into 0.349-inches between centers at 25 yards. That’s enough better than the first test to be significant. The point of impact shifted over to the right but remained just as high as it was in the last test.

SAM single Premier group
When loaded singly the SAM put 10 Crosman Premier pellets into 0.349-inches at 25 yards.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS

Next up were ten JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets. In the first test the SAM put ten of them into 0.521-inches at 25 yards.

In today’s test by loading singly the SAM put ten JSB RS pellets into 0.431-inches at 25 yards. That’s quite a bit better than the last test. As before, the point of impact also shifted to the right just a little.

SAM single RS group
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets went into this “Mickey Mouse” group at 25 yards. It measures 0.431-inches between centers.

Air Arms 16-grain domes

The final pellet I tested is the one I was most interested in. In Part 4 the Air Arms 16-grain dome scattered all over the paper at 25 yards. The 10-shot group measured 1.159-inches. Would loading singly help this pellet?

Well, it did help! This time ten of the singly-loaded Air Arms domes went into 0.46-inches at 25 yards. It is the largest group of today’s test, but it’s almost the same size as the smallest group in Part 4 when the magazine was used! I find that fascinating!

SAM single Air Arms group
When loaded into the SAM one at a time, ten of the Air Arms 16-grain domes went into a group measuring 0.46-inches between centers at 25 yards.

Discussion

It should be clear to everyone that the SAM magazine is the reason the first accuracy test didn’t do so well. This is not my air rifle so I can’t modify the magazine the way reader GunFun1 told us about, but if I could I would. The SAM feeds reliably enough, though when I load it singly there is a slight problem. Longer, fatter pellets do not seat into the breech deeply enough to clear the air transfer port in the breech. That’s why I didn’t shoot a test group of Beeman Kodiaks. I shot four and had trouble getting them past the air transfer port unless I let the bolt slam on them. That seemed to open the group, so I stopped the test.

I will also point out that today the SAM is not very picky about the pellets it likes. That means we can rule out the barrel as a potential problem.

UTG scope was a huge benefit!

I told you that I mounted the UTG 4-14X44 SWAT scope on the SAM for Part 4. Well, that illuminated etched-glass reticle is worth the price of the scope! It made seeing the crosshairs so easy against the black bullseye!

Summary

This SAM is very accurate and today’s test proves it. The magazine may need a period of prolonged break-in. Or GunFun1’s modifications might do the trick.

I will shoot the SAM at 50 yards. Because of what we have seen today I will also load singly for that test. If I owned the rifle I would modify the magazine, but I will be sending it back and the mag has to remain as it came to me.


Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP Air Rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Marauder Semiauto
Benjamin’s new Semiauto Marauder repeating PCP.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • Sight-in
  • Trigger
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • Shooting the SAM is fun!
  • Air Arms 16-grain domes
  • Premiers again
  • Beeman Kodiaks
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the new Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP air rifle. I’m sure GunFun1 will have lots to say about his SAM, too.

Setup

The SAM needs a scope so I looked around and found one that’s pretty much ideal. It’s a UTG 4-16X44 SWAT. Because it has an illuminated glass-etched reticle I was able to illumine just the crosshairs in the center and, because it’s a UTG, I didn’t have to settle for just green or red. I picked blue, so I can see it.

The scope was already mounted in 2-piece rings and since they are Weaver on the bottom I didn’t have to move them at all. That is one of the beauties of air rifles like the SAM that use the Mil Std 1913 Picatinney rail system. The slots on all guns are the same width apart, so a scope can hop from gun to gun without loosening the ring caps. The rear ring was also shimmed under the scope, so I had no worries about a drooping rifle when it came time to sight in.

I also raised the adjustable cheekpiece so my sighting eye was aligned with the scope. That adjustment works quite easily with a 2.5mm Allen wrench.

Sight-in

What’s the first pellet I will try in a Benjamin rifle? Why, a Crosman Premier, of course

I sighted-in at 12 feet, like I always do when a scope is mounted. The pellet hit below the aim point, which it should at 12 feet. It should strike as far below the aim point as the center of the bore is below the center of the scope sight line. At 12 feet the pellet hasn’t had time to rise up to the line of sight.

I saved the sight-in target so I could show you what I’m talking about. The first pellet hit about 1.5 inches below the aim point. Then I backed up to 25 yards without adjusting the scope and the SAM put the remaining nine pellets into a 0.585-inch group at 25 yards.

SAM sight-in
The first pellet from 12 feet struck below the target paper. The other nine hit higher and to the left of center. Nine shots are in 0.585-inches at 25 yards.

Following this sight-in group I adjusted the windage to the right five clicks.

Trigger

I will admit that the rifle fired before I was ready the first few times. However, because I knew to expect it, I was careful to hold the crosshair on the target all the time while squeezing the trigger. Eventually I got used to where the trigger broke and it wasn’t a surprise any longer.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS

I will come back to the Premier pellet for a second try, but the next pellet I tested was the JSB Exact Jumbo RS. This group moved a little to the right of center and all 10 pellets are in 0.521-inches at 25 yards.

SAM RS group
Here is the first 10-shot group. The SAM put 10 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.521-inches at 25 yards. The smaller group below the main one holds three shots.

Shooting the SAM is fun!

I have to tell you there is a real urge to just pull that trigger as fast as I can! The SAM shoots as reliably as a Ruger 10-22 firearm. I bet GunFun1 has a lot to say about that! I wonder how the SAM would do in a Pyramyd Air Gunslynger match? Gunslynger is even a better name for this rifle.

Air Arms 16-grain domes

Now for the real surprise. And, by surprise I mean the real shocker! The 16-grain dome from Air Arms is often the most accurate pellet in a PCP. Well, not in this SAM, it isn’t! Talk about a pattern instead of a group! Ten pellets went into 1.159-inches at 25 yards. Maybe they were hitting a baffle in the shroud? I looked but couldn’t see any place that had been hit. It was the biggest group in the test.

SAM Air Arms group
Wow! The SAM I’m testing does not like Air Arms 16-grain domes! Ten went into 1.159-inches at 25 yards.

Premiers again

I felt I had to test Crosman Premiers a second time, now that I was on target at 25 yards. This time 10 shots went into 0.454-inches at 25 yards. The Premier is definitely a pellet the SAM likes.

SAM Premier group
The SAM put 10 Crosman Premiers into a 0.454-inch group at 25 yards.

Beeman Kodiaks

The last pellet I tried was the Beeman Kodiak that is no longer available, but is identical to the H&N Baracuda. Beeman never gave the head size of their pellets, but H&N does, so you have a choice. This is a much heavier pellet, so they dropped lower than the others I have tested. That’s another reason I left the target taped to the cardboard backer for the pictures.

Ten Kodiaks went into a 0.95-inch group. This is where a choice of head sizes would make for a more thorough test. Because, whatever these pellets are, the SAM doesn’t care for them.

SAM Kodiak group
The Beeman Kodiak pellets made a 0.95-inch group at 25 yards.

Discussion

First of all, the SAM fed all the rounds perfectly and without any hitch. Knowing that it is a semiautomatic is one reason why all the pellets tested were domes.

Next, the trigger does take some getting used to. But once you do it works just fine.

Finally, the SAM does seem a bit selective about the pellets that it likes. I wonder whether GunFun1 has noticed it? Just remember to always include Crosman Premiers, though, and you’ll have at least one pellet that works.

The UTG scope was a very good choice for the SAM. The lighted reticle made it easy to see the fine crosshair on the etched glass reticle.

Summary

Well, that’s the Benjamin SAM at 25 yards. It is a winner in all respects. It’s thrifty with air, very stable in velocity and today we learned that it is also accurate when the right pellets are selected. I guess the only thing left is to test it at 50 yards.


BSA R10 MK2 precharged repeater: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSA R10 Mk2
BSA’s Mark 2 repeater has a rubber-covered beechwood stock.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The day
  • The rifle
  • The test
  • Start with JSB Exact Heavy
  • Crosman Premier heavys
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head
  • Remove the silencer
  • H&N Baracuda Match no silencer
  • JSB Exact Heavy no silencer
  • Crosman Premier Heavy no silencer
  • Discussion
  • Summary

In yesterday’s report you learned that I also shot the BSA R10 Mark II at the 50-yard range last Friday. I took the three best pellets from the 25-yard test in Part 3 and I shot them both with and without the DonnyFL silencer, just to see if there was a difference.

The day

As I mentioned yesterday, it was a cold Texas day with a light wind that blew from 5-10 mph. The range on which I shot is not only covered, it also has walls on both sides. Unfortunately the wind was at my back, and that produced swirling breezes downrange.

The rifle

The rifle was still scoped with the Meopta MeoPro Optika6 3-18X56 scope that is the best optic I own. It’s mounted in SportsMatch Fully Adjustable Scope Rings that have allowed me to get it right on for droop compensation. It was shooting about two inches low at 50 yards with the 25-yard sight setting.

The test

I shot from 50 yards off a sandbag rest. The rifle was rested directly on the sandbag. I shot 10-shot groups for each target.

I also tested each pellet both with the DonnyFL silencer installed and with it removed. When it was removed I put the BSA muzzle cap back on. The test began with the silencer installed.

Start with JSB Exact Heavy

I began the test with 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy pellets. Unfortunately I forgot to close the magazine retaining catch, so the first group was a loss. 

The second group was fired with the magazine catch pulled back and 10 JSB pellets went into 1.459-inches at 50 yards. The group spread out a little, left and right and that’s the same thing Cloud9 was noticing with his RAW. That was the wind swirling downrange. At 25 yards indoors ten of these same pellets made a 0.40-inch group.

R10 JSB group FL
The BSA R10 Mk II put 10 JSB Exact Heavys into 1.459-inches at 50 yards.

After seeing where this pellet landed I adjusted the scope up five clicks. 

Crosman Premier heavys

The second pellet I tried was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier. Ten of them went into a group that measured 1.449-inches between centers. The group is high enough but also moved to the right. I didn’t adjust the scope after seeing it, though, because pellets will go to different places on their own. At 25 yards indoors ten of these pellets made a 0.395-inch group.

R10 Premier Heavt group FL
Ten Crosman Premier Heavy pellets went into 1.449-inches at 50 yards.

H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head

The last pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda Match with a 4.50mm head. Ten of them went into 1.69-inches at 50 yards. At 25 yards indoors ten made a 0.346-inch group.

R10 Baracuda Match group FL
At 50 yards the R10 Mk II put 10 H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.50mm heads in a group that measures 1.69-inches between centers. It looks like 9 holes but I’m pretty sure the hole on the right side of the three at the left has two pellets through it.

Remove the silencer

Now I dialed the scope down five clicks. I also took the DonnyFL silencer off and replaced the BSA muzzle cap.

H&N Baracuda Match no silencer

Since the Baracuda Match tin was open I started with them. Ten of them went into a 1.961-inch group at 50 yards. It’s the largest group so far. The pellets also landed off to the left, which I assume is the result of removing the silencer.

R10 Baracuda Match group no FL
With the silencer off the R10 put 10 Baracuda Match in 1.961-inches. The pellets also went to the left on their own.

JSB Exact Heavy no silencer

Next to be tried were ten JSB Exact Heavys with no silencer on the rifle. Ten pellets went into 1.53-inches at 10 meters. It’s a little larger group than the same pellet shot with the silencer on the rifle.

R10 JSB Heavy group no FL
With the silencer off ten JSB Heavys grouped in 1.53-inches at 50 yards.

After this group I adjusted the scope down three clicks.

Crosman Premier Heavy no silencer

The last test was of Crosman Premier Heavys shot in the R10 with no silencer. Ten of them went into a 1.602-inch group that is larger than the one shot with the same pellet when the silencer was installed. They still went to the right of the aim point, just like they did when the silencer was installed.

R10 Premier Heavy group no FL
The R10 put ten Premier Heavys in 1.602-inches at 50 yards when the silencer was not mounted.

Discussion

This little test makes it look like the DonnyFL silencer bettered the groups a little. I don’t think that’s been proven. It might be more accurate to say the silencer did not adversely affect the groups.

The breeze we had caused some of the horizontal spreading. I tried to wait out the wind, but that was nearly impossible. Let’s just say I waited until it was as calm as it was going to get and then I shot as fast as I could before the wind picked up again.

Summary

I’m disappointed by today’s results. I had hoped for at least one group that was smaller than an inch. Cloud9 was getting 5-shot groups of sub one-quarter-inches, though he had some problems with the wind, too.

Will I test this rifle again? If I do it will be with a host of different pellets because these don’t seem to be the right ones for 50 yards.


AirForce Texan: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Texan
AirForce Texan big bore.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Upgrade to the TX2 valve?
  • Mr Hollowpoint
  • The day
  • Mr. Hollowpoint 333-grain bullet
  • Stretching the air
  • Cold!
  • First two bullets
  • Time to refill
  • Summary

The .458 Texan from AirForce Airguns I’m testing has been with me for many years. Mine is from the first production run. And AirForce has made significant changes to the rifle in the time since mine was made (read Part 3, where the new TX2 valve is discussed), but I don’t care. My rifle still hits hard and drills heavy bullets where I want them to go.

Upgrade to the TX2 valve?

AirForce offered to upgrade my Texan to the new TX2 valve if I wanted. I would gain additional power from the new valve, plus with the new carbon fiber air tank I would retain the 4+ good shots, because even though the new valve uses more air, the CF tank it’s in gets filled to 250 bar/3,626 psi. I could also switch over to the new barrel that is just as long as mine, but has a faster 1:30 twist rate that stabilizes the heavier bullets better. My 535 foot-pound rifle would become a 700 foot-pound rifle with the heaviest bullets.

I don’t know if I want to upgrade or not. My rifle has proven deadly accurate already with a 215-grain semi-wadcutter from Tin Starr bullets. It put 6 of them into about 1.5-inches at 100 yards. And it doesn’t take 700 foot-pounds to dispatch a whitetail deer or a feral hog.

Texan big bore best group
Remember, we measure from the center of the 2 holes farthest apart. Those two radii equal 1 bullet diameter (center-to-edge equals one radius). So, subtract one bullet diameter (.458″) from the measurement shown on the calipers and you get the center-to-center measurement. The group measures 1.506-inches, center-to-center.

If, on the other hand, I did upgrade I would be testing an entirely new air rifle, because both the barrel and the powerplant would be different. To work properly with the TX2 valve the internals of my powerplant would also have to be changed.

In Part 4 I tested my unaltered rifle, using the new TX2 tank and valve. My rifle’s best power had been 535 foot pounds. But now, with the new valve and a Mr. Hollowpoint 490-grain bullet, the power jumped up to 655 foot pounds on the first shot. And that was without the powerplant modifications my rifle needs to do its best with the new valve.

I’m the guy who always says, “Never get rid of an accurate airgun.” Is that what I would be doing if the changes were made? I want to hear what you think. Now, let’s get on with today’s report.

Mr Hollowpoint

Robert Vogel, who is Mr. Hollowpoint to big bore shooters, sent me an assortment of his bullets to test in my Texan. I showed you four of them in Part 4, last November. My thoughts were to select the one or two best performers, tune the power adjustment wheel to optimize the rifle to that bullet — and then leave it alone. 

In Part 4 I tested four of the five bullets he sent. Today I will test number five. I’ll also go back to the bullet that has proven to be the most accurate previously and see if it still as good as it was in Part 4. Remember from Part 4 that I asked him to size all the bullets 0.458-inches, because that’s the size with which my rifle does its best.

The day

I shot the Texan last Friday at the rifle range with reader Cloud9, who is still testing his RAW field target rifle. We were on the 50-yard range that is covered and has nice concrete shooting benches. But my first test that day was the BSA R10 Mark II, and I shot a lot of 10-shot groups with it. You’ll see that one tomorrow.

The day was a cold Texas day. The temperature wasn’t that bad, but the wind was chilling both me and Cloud9 to the bone. By the time I got to the Texan I had already been shooting for almost 2 hours and was pretty cold. 

Mr. Hollowpoint 333-grain bullet

First I will test that last bullet that Mr. Hollowpoint sent. It’s a long 333-grain bullet with a deep hollow point and wide grease grooves that are separated by narrow bands. It looks different enough from all the other bullets I’m testing that I decided to save it for last.

Mr. Hollowpoint 333-grain bullet
The 333-grain bullet from Mr. Hollowpoint looks quite different from all the others.

The first bullet landed in the bull because the rifle was still sighted in from last November. When the second, third and fourth bullets also struck black I thought maybe this would be one to consider — especially for shots at close range. Those first 4 shots grouped in 1.405-inches between centers at 50 yards.

Stretching the air

Then I tried to take a fifth shot without refilling. The onboard pressure gauge read 2,000 psi before the shot and I knew I should refill, but I thought I would take a chance. That fifth bullet landed 2-1/2-inches below the lowest bullet that was already in the bull. It was still in line with the group above, just much lower. It opened the first 5 shots to 3.838-inches at 50 yards.

At this point I refilled the rifle to 3,000 psi and took a final shot. If it went into the first group I would know that 4 shots are all I can get from this 333-grain bullet on a fill to 3,000 psi. 

Well, it did go to the first group, but it landed higher, opening those first four shots to 2.308-inches at 50 yards. Obviously I’m disregarding the lower fifth shot from the first fill in this measurement.

333-grain bullet group
The first 4 shots all hit the bull and grouped in 1.405-inches at 50 yard. The fifth shot on that fill dropped lower, opening the first five shots to 3.838-inches. By filling the tank again, I fired a sixth shot that hit above the first four. That group of 5 shots measures 2.308-inches between centers. Sorry for the blurry image.

Cold!

My little fingers were getting really cold by this time, so I knew I didn’t have much more time remaining. When you see all that I shot with the BSA R10 Mark II you’ll understand how long it took me to get to this point.

I wanted to give the most accurate of the five Mr. Hollowpoint bullets one final chance to see if it was still as accurate as it had been back in November. That was the 300-grain hollowpoint. Back then I put five of them into 1.232-inches at 50 yards, with three of them in 0.349-inches. Could I still do as well on this frigid day? And if I could, maybe I could adjust the power adjuster to optimize it.

Mr. Hollowpoint 300-grain bullet
Mr Hollowpoint 300-grain bullet that you have seen before is the most accurate of all his bullets that I’m testing.

First two bullets

Since I had just filled the Texan for the last shot with the 333-grain bullet, it still had a lot of air, so I decided to shoot the first couple 300-grainers before refilling. Shot number one nicked the top of the bull at 50 yards. Shot two, however, could not be seen clearly through the UTG 6-24X56 SWAT scope. My Meopta MeoPro HD 80 Spotting Scope, however, revealed that the second shot had gone through the same hole as the first shot. I thought that was what I was seeing through the UTG scope, but I needed confirmation. You can see it in my photograph.

Time to refill

At this point I wanted nothing to spoil this group, so I refilled the rifle to 3,000 psi. Shot three landed apart from the first two shots, but it was very close. Shots 4 and 5 are clustered with it. This five-shot 50-yard group measures 0.659-inches between centers!

Back in 2015 I shot five shots into 0.762-inches at the same 50 yards. Those were the same bullets that made a 1.5-inch 100-yard group.

Texan big bore best group
Back in 2015, I managed to put five 215-grain bullets into 0.762 inches at 50 yards. This was clearly a good bullet!

300-grain bullet group
Last Friday, five 300-grain bullets made a 0.659-inch group at 50 yards. This bullet from Mr. Hollowpoint has edged out the Tin Starr bullet from 2015. Will it do as well at 100 yards?

Well, there is no way that I am fooling with the power adjuster after shooting a group like this. This Texan is sighted-in for 0-75 yards right now with this bullet!

Summary

My current Texan is very accurate and as powerful as I need it to be. But by allowing AirForce to upgrade it to the new TX2 valve and the new barrel, I would have a brand new airgun to test. I’m leaning in that direction, but I would like to hear what you readers think.

As it stands now the 300-grain bullet from Mr. Hollowpoint is extremely accurate. I do think I need to test it at 100 yards before I do anything to the .458 Texan.