The Haenel 311 target rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Haenel 311
Haenel 311 target rifle.

History of airguns:

This report covers:

Not the Hurricane today
So what?
Haenel target rifles
The 312
The 311
Different way to oil the piston seal
Construction
Sights
Trigger
Summary

Not the Hurricane today

I was going to do a Part 2 velocity test with the Webley Hurricane today but this is Friday and I wanted to give you guys something to talk about over the weekend. Velocity tests of airguns I have tested before aren’t usually that exciting, so I looked for a different topic for today.

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but I have forgotten something. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true. I have forgotten that my Haenel 311 bolt-action target rifle from East Germany shot the smallest 5-shot group I ever shot at 10 meters. Let me show you. read more


With airguns home IS the range! — Part1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • The indoor range
  • Quiet airguns
  • The 499
  • Quiet traps
  • Build your own trap
  • What about more powerful airguns?
  • You don’t have to just shoot paper indoors
  • Safety
  • Distance
  • Pellet trap
  • Lighting
  • Shooting table
  • Shooting at home is fun!
  • Your turn

Some of you are sitting at home right now, bored out of your gourds! Have you forgotten that you are airgunners? This is your time to shine!

This is a refresh of an article I wrote for the website in 2006 — 14 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then, so I have updated it.

The indoor range

With the right airguns, it’s not only possible to shoot at home, you’ll wish you’d started years ago. I’m not talking about your backyard today. Some folks have large private backyards that let them shoot without disturbing their neighbors. But many people like me are squeezed into closer quarters with neighbors who may call the police if they see someone outside with a gun. However, a home is still a castle, and yours can have a shooting range inside. read more


Onyx Tactical Crossbow: Part 1

nyby Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sen-X Crossbow
Onyx Tactical Crossbow.

This report covers:

  • Crossbow
  • The Onyx
  • Physical specifications and description
  • Who needs it?
  • So — who needs it?
  • Why you need it
  • Opening the box
  • Manual
  • The power source — for cocking
  • Why CO2?
  • Air source safety
  • The button
  • Final point
  • Summary

Today will be a completely different blog! This time old BB is the student. This is about a crossbow, which I do know a little about, but this crossbow operates differently than any other.

Crossbow

The Onyx Tactical Crossbow is a crossbow like all other premium crossbows, except for one thing. You cock this bow with the push of a button! Yes, this 225-pound draw-weight crossbow that is fully capable of taking big game is cocked with the push of a button. Let’s think about that for a moment.

Crossbows are to archers what rifles are to spear-throwers. They remove most of the skill required for the job and deliver powerful shots that are also accurate out to ranges that even experienced archers cannot achieve. It’s been that way for centuries, and for all of that time the longbow archers have insisted that crossbows are not true bows. I have to agree with them. A longbow is one thing — even when it has modern technology like sights and cams to reduce draw weight — things that weren’t around when this controversy started.

Crossbows are something different. They are more powerful than longbows and, if handled improperly, they can be more dangerous than longbows, though you have to handle both with caution.

The reason people lump them together is they both have bow in the name and they both shoot arrows — though technically the “arrow” fired by a crossbow is called a quarrel or bolt. Longbow arrows were also once called bolts, but the term arrow has taken a firm root with them. I’m not going to get into the history of the crossbow in this report (though that might be a fun one to do, sometime), but you do need to acknowledge their differences, because some of the crossbow operational quirks can maim and even kill you!

The Onyx

The Onyx is a conventional crossbow, except for the pushbutton cocking feature. It has a 225 lb. draw weight and can be cocked manually. To do that you either need to be Superman or to use an aftermarket cocking aid. For this bow I think a cocking windlass is required. Some are made to fit specific crossbows, while others are more universal and will fit a wide range of models.

cocking windlass
This is a universal cocking aid/windlass. It attaches to the butt of the crossbow and slowly pulls the bowstring back to the point that it is caught and held by the trigger mechanism (technically a part called the nut). I have no idea if this one fits the Onyx — I simply show it for information.

The Onyx cocks differently. You don’t draw the bowstring back to cock the bow. That was done before this point — the bowstring is already held back. The bowstring is not under much tension when the string is held back — unlike any other crossbow!

What the pneumatic mechanism on the Onyx does is push the bow’s limbs (the two springy arms on either side of the bow) forward to put tension on the bowstring! I remember at the Pyramyd Air Cup this year I became quite excited when a Pyramyd Air technician showing the bow to me put his hand in front of the arrow! It looked to me like the bow was cocked, but as I have just explained — it wasn’t.

Physical specifications and description

The online specs say the Onyx weighs 11 lbs. Without an air tank the test bow weighs 10 lbs. on my balance beam scale, so I think the specs are with the air tank attached. That means the Onyx is heavy for a crossbow.

The bow is 28.5 inches long and just under 11 inches wide when the limbs are collapsed. When the limbs are extended the width is about 34-inches.

The overall color is black, Most of the bow is aluminum and steel; the limbs are some sort of high-tech synthetic and the forearm grip, the pistol grip and the buttstock are synthetic.

The buttstock is an AR type that is adjustable to six positions of length. The pull length varies between 13-3/4-inches and 17-3/4-inches.

The pistol grip is also an AR A2 style. I have no idea whether it will interchange with actual AR grips, but economies of design would dictate that it should. It certainly looks like it would from the outside.

The forearm grip is designed to keep your off hand away from the flight deck and the bowstring. This feature is seen on many crossbows today, because that string can remove digits when the bow fires!

Who needs it?

You are probably asking right now who needs a $1,550 pushbutton crossbow? A good hunting crossbow can be purchased for $250-300. A premium hunting crossbow will cost $1,000 to $2,500. My Sub-1 from Mission Archery now sells for about $1,400, without a sight. I reported on that back in 2018. The Onyx is based on a premium crossbow, but the pneumatic technology they added to give it one-button cocking does increase the cost.

So — who needs it?

Let’s make a list.

• Hunters with physical limitations (handicapped)
• Hunters who cannot cock a crossbow
• You

Wait a minute, BB. I’m young(ish). I’m strong. I don’t need no pushbutton crossbow!

Why you need it

Okay, imagine you are sitting in a tree stand waiting for that prize whitetail buck to come along. Suddenly you see him working his way through the treeline. You count at least 10 points on his antlers at this distance. This is the one you want. He is 90 yards away and walking toward you like an infantry scout on patrol, looking for boobytraps. Now tell me — did you climb up into that high seat this morning with your crossbow already cocked and loaded? And did you sit there with the bow cocked for 2-1/2-hours? Of course not. Your mom didn’t raise no fools!

Well, then, are you going to cock your crossbow now? Sure, you say. I just have to wait to turn the crank slowly and then detach the crank mechanism, load an arrow and get ready to shoot when the deer isn’t looking. Good luck with that! His eyes and ears are sharper than yours and he has lived by his wits all his life. If you had a firearm would you have waited until now to load it?

Or — you could just push the button on the Onyx and be ready silently in a second, because the arrow is already loaded.

Now you understand! This crossbow isn’t for hunting in your daydreams on the couch! This crossbow is for hunting in the real world! Sure it’s heavy, but how bad is that when you are sitting in a blind?

Opening the box

I first looked at the bow in the box it came in and carefully considered everything inside. Had this been a pellet rifle I would have had it out and shot by this time. But the Onyx is something I know very little about.

Sen-X Crossbow box
The Onyx crossbow collapses to less than 11-inches wide for transport.

Sen-X Crossbow pins
As the bow comes to you, the quick-release pins that allow the limbs to fold are held in place by a rubber band that also holds the loose bowstring. This picture is as much for me as for you, so I remember to do this after testing the bow. Because I’m keeping that rubber band! read more


Air Arms Pro-Sport: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Pro-Sport
Air Arms Pro-Sport.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Pro-Sport trigger
  • Based on the Rekord
  • Set trigger
  • Rekord is not set
  • What is dangerous?
  • Hair trigger
  • Slippage
  • Fingers with neuropathy
  • Cold fingers
  • So what?
  • TX trigger
  • Mach II trigger
  • Pro-Sport trigger adjustment
  • Stage one
  • Stage two
  • But wait…
  • Summary

Pro-Sport trigger
Air Arms Pro-Sport and TX200 trigger. Graphic from Air Arms.

Pro-Sport trigger

Today I show you the trigger of the Air Arms Pro-Sport rifle that I’m testing. I said in Part 2 that I was going to show how to adjust it in Part 3, and then I breezed right past that and shot groups instead. The reason I did is because this trigger was adjusted perfectly as the rifle came to me from the factory. Stage two breaks at 14.8 ounces. It’s far too light for sporting use but perfect for shooting from a bench in a warm environment.

I normally don’t take the time to write about adjusting triggers for you, though in the recent past there have been several exceptions. The Pro-Sport trigger, which is identical to the TX200 Mark III trigger, needs to be another exception, because it is one of the finest sporting air rifle triggers on the market.

Based on the Rekord

To understand the Pro-Sport trigger we first need to understand the Rekord trigger that preceded it by several decades. The Rekord is a multi-lever trigger that is very closely related to a set trigger that can release in fractions of an ounce. But a Rekord is not a set trigger.

Rekord trigger 1
This is the Rekord trigger. Yes, I photographed it from my Beeman R1 book, because I apparently no longer have the original artwork.

Rekord trigger 2
Here is a look inside the sheetmetal trigger box that holds the Rekord trigger parts. Also taken from my R1 book.

Set trigger

A set trigger is “set” (armed would be another good word) by moving its parts into position so that the slightest pressure will make it operate. It can be a single trigger blade that is pushed into the set position, in which case it is called a single-set trigger. Or, there can be a second trigger whose only job is to pull all the trigger parts into position — “setting” or arming the real trigger. When there are two trigger blades it is called a double-set trigger.

Rekord is not set

But the Rekord trigger is never set. It is a proper two-stage sporting trigger. It should always have a first stage that is light and stops when resistance is encountered! That resistance is the effort needed to pull the second stage to the release point, firing the airgun. That second-stage resistance can be adjusted very light — so light, in fact, that it becomes dangerous.

What is dangerous?

If a gun fires because the shooter has his finger in the triggerguard and it touches the trigger blade unintentionally — that is not an accident. That is a stupident! I have done it. Maybe you have done it, and I know stories that I’m sworn not to reveal about people nearly everyone knows who have done it. That is not an accident and it is not the trigger’s fault.

Hair trigger

What IS the trigger’s fault is when the gun fires because the weight of the trigger blade alone causes it to move and the sear to release. Think it’s impossible? Think again. There are set triggers that can be set that light and they fire when the muzzle of the gun is elevated and the trigger pivots back on its pin because of gravity. I have seen guns with triggers set that light. Those are called hair triggers because supposedly the force of one human hair against them will set them off. But many people call a one-pound trigger a hair trigger because, to them, it’s so light that it fires before they are ready.

Slippage

Then there are triggers that fire all by themselves because their sear angles are not correct. All it takes to fire these triggers is to reduce the friction and give the trigger a small push. A 100-pound coiled mainspring pushing against a piston (when a spring-piston rifle is cocked) can provide such a push. These triggers may function perfectly for many years and then fail when they are lubricated with a high-tech lubricant like moly that drops their friction below the point needed to hold them. I have a hole in the ceiling of my office from a BSF S55N that fired unexpectedly from this problem. A slipping trigger is a well-known fault of BSF triggers.

Fingers with neuropathy

Maybe you have neuropathy in your fingers and don’t recognize it. It comes in many forms — one of which is you loose sensitivity in your hands, including your trigger finger. You know that it’s getting harder to pick up postage stamps and coins, but it hasn’t dawned on you that a trigger can also be a problem. You can’t feel the blade until you put 5 pounds of force on it, by which time the gun has already fired.

Cold fingers

When you are out hunting in cold weather your fingers loose their sensitivity, and a one-pound trigger becomes a hair trigger. Cold weather calls for 5-pound triggers, which is the military standard for nearly every nation on the planet.

So what?

The Rekord trigger was designed to be a nearly foolproof two-stage trigger that can be adjusted to suit your preferences, within reason. And, it’s the “within reason” that catches many airgunners. For instance, I just read on one forum where Rekord trigger adjustment screw 52B — the one Beeman has recommended for decades that you never adjust — is laughed at! This forum calls that adjustment a fake. Well, that adjustment determines how much sear engagement stage TWO will have in the trigger. If someone comes along not knowing the consequences and wants an 8-ounce single-stage trigger and they adjust screw 52B to get it, they have just adjusted out all the “proof” in “foolproof,” and what does that leave?

TX trigger

But this report is about the trigger in a Pro-Sport. Well — until you understand how a Rekord trigger works you will have a hard time understanding the more sensitive trigger found in the Pro-Sport.

Mach II trigger

Many rears ago I owned a Mach II trigger (a Rekord trigger replacement) that was custom made by Ivan Hancock. It looked deceptively simple, yet it could be adjusted to a razor’s edge. I no longer have that trigger but let me show you what it looked like — again from my R1 book. Before you get all goose-pimply, please know that the Mach II trigger sold for around $250 in the mid 1990s. It would be a $400+ trigger today.

handmade Mach II trigger
The Mach II trigger exposed. It looks almost identical to the Air Arms trigger graphic above. Two screws in the trigger blade (their holes can barely be seen in this photo) put pressure on the part that Air Arms calls the bottom sear when the trigger is pulled. Notice how close these screws are in this blade. read more


Sig Air Super Target: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig Super Target
Sig Air Super Target (photo courtesy Sig Sauer).

This report covers:

  • Finally finished
  • What is it?
  • All-metal
  • Adjustable sights
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Safety
  • Power
  • Examination
  • Operation
  • Realism
  • Summary
  • read more


    Pioneer model BB76 BB gun: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Pioneer BB gun
    Pioneer BB76 BB gun.

    A history of airguns

    This report covers:

    • 1976
    • Getting ready to shoot
    • This is a big gun!
    • The firearm
    • And the key!
    • Look for them new in the box
    • Broken
    • Summary

    I’ve got a strange one for you today. It’s a copy of a copy! This must be one of the strangest lookalike airguns ever made. And it copies a firearm that is itself just mimicking an era, without copying anything in particular.

    1976

    The American Bicentennial in 1976 was a gala year-long celebration. Grand parties were held and everyone was euphoric that the nation held together for 200 years. There were no end of special bicentennial commemorative items available. Even the airgun community had one — today’s topic gun, the Pioneer model BB76 BB gun. It is a 50-shot repeating spring-piston BB gun that cocks via a concealed underlever. It looks like a percussion rifle from a century earlier, and I think it was supposed to resemble a flintlock rifle of one additional century earlier. I guess most people don’t know the difference between a flintlock musket and a percussion rifle.

    What makes this gun so unusual is that it is a copy of a firearm that itself was copying history. Many air gunners are aware of this BB gun, but have never heard all of the percussion rifle from Japanese company Miroku. I believe the same Japanese company that produced that firearm also made this BB gun, and I will offer proof in a bit.

    Pioneer 76 with Miroku rifle
    The Pioneer BB76 BB gun (top) was patterned after the Miroku percussion rifle that was a copy of no specific percussion rifle.

    At the heart of the BB gun is a mechanism that resembles the Daisy Number 25 slide-action (or “pump”) BB gun. It uses a similar 50-shot forced-feed shot tube, but has a completely different cocking mechanism that is one of the oddities of the BB gun world. It’s an underlever cocking mechanism that cocks the mainspring, but does not ready the gun to fire.

    Pioneer 76 cocked
    The concealed underlever pulls down and back to cock the BB gun.

    The last step in getting it ready is to manually cock the plastic hammer on the right side of the gun. If you don’t do that the trigger will not budge. Once that has been done the gun is ready to fire. You could call the hammer a type of safety. though the way it operates is entirely different from any safety I have ever seen.

    Pioneer 76 hammer
    The hammer must be pulled all the way back to finish cocking the gun.

    Pioneer 76 magazine
    The Pioneer uses a copy of Daisy’s 50-shot forced-feed magazine.

    Getting ready to shoot

    After putting a loaded magazine in the gun, lower the cocking lever until it cocks the action, then return it to its stored position. You might think the gun is ready to go, but it isn’t. You also have to cock the external hammer before the gun will fire. This is a safety feature that also makes this BB gun that much stranger. The hammer is plastic and it cocks so easily you’d swear nothing is happening, but it really does make the gun ready to fire.

    The hammer is also the gun’s one weak design spot. I’ve seen guns that wouldn’t fire at all because someone had done something to the hammer. I’ve also seen some that fired independent of the hammer. I always thought the former owners had forced it in some way and broke whatever is inside. Being plastic, it won’t stand much abuse. If you follow the procedure I give here, the gun works fine.

    This is a big gun! read more


    Remington 1875 BB and pellet revolver: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Remington 1875
    Remington 1875 pellet and BB pistol.

    This report covers:

    • Remington revolver
    • The start of single action cartridge revolvers
    • 1875 Remington
    • The Remington air pistol
    • .44 Remington cartridge
    • Pellets and BBs
    • CO2
    • Blister pack
    • Manual
    • Is this a REAL Remington?
    • Loads through the gate
    • Sights
    • Cylinder removes
    • Safety
    • Hammer stands proud
    • Summary

    Remington revolver

    Today I begin a review of the 1875 Remington revolver from Crosman. It is a smoothbore, but has 6 cartridges for shooting BBs and a second group of 6 cartridges for shooting pellets. They know you’re going to shoot both anyway, so why not do it right?

    The start of single action cartridge revolvers

    Colt came to market in 1873 with their Peacemaker, which was the first time they could legally make a firearm with a bored-through cylinder. That allowed the convenient use of cartridges, but had been blocked for years by Smith & Wesson, who made the first cartridge revolver in 1856 (the S&W website says 1857, but I have always heard 1856). When the S&W patent expired, other firearms manufacturers piled on fast.

    Colt Peacemaker
    The Colt Peacemaker of 1873.

    1875 Remington

    Remington followed suit in 1875 with their first revolver. And, because they based theirs on earlier Remington designs, there is a significant difference between the Colt and them. The Colt has two screws through the frame — one for the bolt and the other for trigger to pivot on. Remington has just one to serve both parts. In the firearms, that made a big difference!

    Remington 1875 screw
    This is a genuine Remington 1875 revolver and you can see the single screw (arrow) that both the trigger and bolt pivot on.

    That single screw made the Remington action a little stiffer and more prone to jam than the Colt. Remember, I am just talking about the firearm now — not the pellet/BB gun. I owned a well-worn Remington 1875 firearm and found its action to be troublesome.

    The Remington air pistol

    This 1875 BB/pellet gun, in sharp contrast, is just as smooth as a Colt. I can see that an extra screw has been added at the front of the frame, so this action is not exactly like the Remington firearm. That’s good for us because it means we won’t suffer the same problems that Remington firearm owners had.

    .44 Remington cartridge

    The second problem with the firearm was its caliber. It was .44 Remington! Find a fresh box of those today! The replica guns are being chambered in .44 Special, .44/40 and .45 Colt. Most gun owners do not reload, so making a true replica firearm that copies everything exactly is a recipe for disaster. Even Remington realized their mistake and started chambering the 1875 in .44/40 (correctly called the .44 Winchester Centerfire or WCF, but Remington would never call it that!) later in the run. To the best of my knowledge the 1875 was the only firearm ever chambered for the .44 Remington. Even the Remington 1890 revolver that came later wasn’t chambered for it.

    Pellets and BBs

    Fortunately for airgunners, this air pistol has a smooth bore that allows both standard BBs and pellets. You get different cartridges for each type of round.

    The pellet cartridges have a small profile of a diabolo wadcutter on their base next to the Crosman name. The BB cartridges say 4.5mm on their base (which is wrong, but we won’t complain) and the Crosman name. Load both types of ammo into the back or base of each cartridge.

    CO2

    It’s pretty obvious that this revolver is powered by a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge. Where Umarex had to use the 1860 Colt Army (cap-and-ball revolver) grip frame on their SAA to accommodate the cartridge, the Remington grip was always larger and longer and fits a cartridge readily.

    Remington 1875 grip
    The left grip panel comes off to load the CO2 cartridge. It also holds the piercing screw wrench.

    Blister pack

    The gun comes in a blister pack that I didn’t like at first. However, I know why they did it that way — and it wasn’t primarily to save money. Airguns are never the top-selling products in a store, so they fight for shelf space. It’s called real estate in the trade. A tree of blister packs allows many times more product in the same aisle space, and volume-sales stores tend to carry more product if they come packaged this way.

    Manual

    The gun comes with a manual that’s printed in 1-point type, as in the print is smaller than the inscription inside your wedding ring. I have to wear my magnifying hood on full power to read it.

    Is this a REAL Remington?

    It probably doesn’t matter to most of you, but to a Remington collector, it does matter whether the gun is a licensed product or just a knockoff. This one is the real deal and says so on both the package and the gun. It’s made in Taiwan.

    Loads through the gate read more