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.


Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP Air Rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

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

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Adjusting the power
  • The test
  • JSB Exact Jumbo
  • Beeman Kodiak
  • Misfeeds
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • How loud?
  • How much air was used?
  • Adjust the rifle back to the factory setting
  • Dial off 7/8 of a turn
  • Dial off another full turn
  • Dial off another 3/4 turn
  • Dial back a half turn
  • Dial back another half turn
  • The bottom line
  • The trigger
  • Summary

Today we look at the Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP air rifle adjusted up as high as it will go. I want to know how much power and also how many shots I can expect at this setting. I will also adjust the rifle back to how it came from the factory to see if I can achieve the former power by simply counting the revolutions of the adjustment screw.

As an aside, reader GunFun1 found out that his .22 Marauder magazines worked just fine in his SAM. He wanted to know because SAM magazines aren’t available yet. I do believe he increased their spring tension just a little.

Adjusting the power

The first step was to determine how far out the adjustment screw was set on the test rifle. To do that I unscrewed it until it stopped, which it did after 5-1/8 revolutions. That is all the power adjusted out.

After that I screwed it in as far as it will go without slipping. The manual says that it’s impossible to turn the screw in by more than 6 revolutions, and when I did I felt a click with every additional revolution. So Crosman has designed something to prevent over-tightening. Now I was ready to test the rifle.

The test

I will use the same pellets from the previous test in Part 2 so we can compare the power levels. I will also test the discharge sound again, to see if there has been any change.

JSB Exact Jumbo

This time I remembered the SAM is semiautomatic. I also remembered to press the charging handle forward and also the forward assist to properly seat the new pellet in the breech after installing a loaded magazine.

Last time at the factory setting the SAM pushed JSB Exact Jumbo pellets out at an average 804 f.p.s. The spread was 6 f.p.s. and the average energy generated was 22.81 foot-pounds. This time the velocity averaged 828 f.p.s. with a 10 f.p.s. spread from 821 to 831 f.p.s. The muzzle energy this time was 24.2 foot-pounds. That’s only a little faster after the adjustment, but as I said the adjustment screw was already turned in 5-1/8 turns as the rifle came from the box.

Beeman Kodiak

The next pellet I tested was the obsolete Beeman Kodiak, which is identical to the H&N Baracuda that’s still available. In Part Two this 21.14-grain pellet averaged 684 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 21.97 foot pounds. In this test the same pellet averaged 706 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 23.41 foot pounds. The spread was 10 f.p.s. from 703 to 713 f.p.s.

Misfeeds

With the Kodiak, though, there were several misfeeds. I only recorded 7 good shots out of the first 10, The other three were misfires. And when I tried to get the last three shots by reloadinbg the magazine a second time, all three were misfires. By misfires I mean that one pellet might have gone out at 333 f.p.s. followed by a double feed that went out at 515 f.p.s. Since it happened twice with this pellet I determined that the SAM doesn’t care for Kodiaks. So I stopped using them.

I think the Kodiak pellet is either too large or too heavy for the SAM’s action and it “confuses” the semiautomatic action. The same thing happens in semiautomatic firearms when the wrong ammo is used. In the case of the SAM I think the pellet is putting more backpressure on the action than it was designed for and that is what is bolloxing things up. This is something you must pay attention to if you plan to shoot a semiauto.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS

The last pellet I tested was the lightweight JSB Exact RS dome. In Part Two they averaged 865 f.p.s with a 5 f.p.s. spread. On the high power setting today the same pellet averaged 888 f.p.s. with a 9 f.p.s. spread from 885 to 894 f.p.s. At the average velocity the RS pellet generates 23.52 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

How loud?

In Part Two I recorded the rifle’s report as 84.3 decibels. How loud is it now that the power has been increased? My sound meter recorded it as 91.6 decibels, though it still sounded pretty quiet to me. I took several readings and this one was in the middle.

SAM report
With the power up all the way the SAM’s report was 91.6 decibels.

How much air was used?

At this point in the test 34 shots had been fired (the three magazines, plus 4 additional shots for the Kodiak pellet string). The onboard gauge says 2,300 psi remains in the reservoir. In Part 2 we learned that the test rifle runs out of steam when the onboard gauge reads around 1,600 psi. So, there are lots of shots remaining.

Adjust the rifle back to the factory setting

Can I now adjust the rifle back to where it was set when I first tested the rifle? Theoretically I should be able to “eyeball” the position of the 1/4-inch Allen screw, by watching the short end of the Allen wrench and return to that setting. Let’s see what happens when I try.

Dial off 7/8 of a turn

I dialed the wrench off 7/8 of as turn and recorded the following string with JSB RS pellets that had averaged 888 f.p.s. on high power.

Shot………Vel
1………….891
2………….888
3………….886
4………….881
5………….880
6………….880
7………….880
8………….889 Oh, oh! Wrong way.
9………….880
10..……….887

The average for this string is 884 f.p.s. so some velocity has been dialed away, but not much. Until shot eight I thought the rifle was going to settle down to a lower velocity.

Dial off another full turn

Next I dialed another full turn off the power screw. Here is what I got.

Shot………Vel
1………….877
2………….869
3………….870
4………….871
5………….871

Dial off another 3/4 turn

That was much closer to the 865 f.p.s. average for the RS, but I wanted to get even closer. So I dialed down the screw another 3/4-turn and got this.

Shot………Vel
6………….857
7………….853

Dial back a half turn

Wooops! I went too far. So I put back 1/2 turn of the power adjustment.

Shot………Vel
8………….867
9………….858
10..……….854

Dial back another half turn

Well, I’m close, but I want to get even closer, so I dialed in another 1/2 turn of power and got this.

Shot………Vel
1………….866
2………….862
3………….861
4………….864
5………….864
6………….861
7………….864
8………….857
9………….856
10..……….855

By the way, that’s 64 shots on a fill and the rifle still has 1,900 psi in the reservoir. So there is at least one more magazine’s worth of air.

The average for this string is 861 and I decided to leave the power set where it is. But there are two important things I have to say.

First, why didn’t the velocity go back to exactly where it was before when I adjusted the power screw to exactly where it had been set? Maybe I miscalculated where the screw was really set. Or maybe when you mess with the power setting it takes a long time for the rifle to settle back down.

Second, How come I dialed it down 3/4 turn of power and then put a full turn back in and the power didn’t go to higher than it was before the 3/4 turn adjustment? Same answer as before, except this time I know I did adjust the screw exactly as indicated.

The bottom line

The bottom line, guys, is to get a chronograph if you want to play around like this. Don’t think that counting screw turns is an exact science. This is the reason when someone says they are shooting their AirForce TalonSS at setting 8.12, it means nothing to anyone except that guy and only at the time he records it.  If he ever adjusts his power setting somewhere else he may never be able to get back to that exact velocity! Chronograph, chronograph chronograph!

The trigger

I must tell you about the trigger. Stage two is smooth and light, but there is absolutely no hint of where it’s going to break — other than the distance it has travelled. I’m starting to know where the rifle will fire by how far I have pulled the trigger. It’s a new experience for me, but it’s not hard to learn.

Summary

Well, the SAM didn’t go up as high as I thought it would. But it still has all the power I will ever need in the .22 semiauto. 

Remember that Kodiaks didn’t work so well this time and be willing to accept that as part of the cost of having a semiautomatic action.

The accuracy test is next.


Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vigilante
Crosman Vigilante.


This report covers:

  • Come on, Crosman!
  • The Vigilante
  • Dual ammo
  • Pellets?
  • Breakopen
  • Adjustable sights!
  • Overall impressions
  • Summary

Today we start looking at the Crosman Vigilante CO2 revolver semi-auto. The what???

Come on, Crosman!

Is this a revolver, or a semi-auto? Or, has Crosman resurrected the Webley-Fosbery semiautomatic revolver? A semiautomatic revolver has to somehow advance the cylinder to the next round and also cock the hammer for the next shot without any input from the shooter. The revolver does all the work. The Webley-Fosbery is recoil operated to accomplish these things.

Webley-Fosbery
The Webley-Fosbery is one of the very rare semiautomatic revolvers. Prepare to spend five figures for one, if you can find it!

This Crosman revolver is just that — a revolver. In no way is it semiautomatic. Pyramyd Air wisely avoided the Semi Auto portion on the pistol’s title when they put it online.

Vigilante semiauto card
Yes, Crosman really says the Vigilante is a semiauto!

Come on, Crosman! You make airguns, and that requires a modicum of knowledge of the shooting sports. Sure, you hire young men and women to work for you, but someone in the know has to oversee them.

The Vigilante

Rant over. So, what is the Vigilante? Is it an update of the iconic Crosman 357? I wish I could answer that question with authority, but the Crosman 357 was an air pistol I never tested. I’ve read plenty of raves from owners who love them, but I never got my hands on one. Looking at the design and the specs of the Vigilante, though, I have to think that’s exactly what it is.

The Vigilante differs from the 357 in one exciting way. It has a single Weaver groove on top of the barrel for a dot sight. I’m thinking I have to test it that way and I hope the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight will attach, because it is small enough for the job.

Vigilante sight groove
The Vigilante has a single Weaver groove on the top rail of the barrel. It’s perfect for a small dot sight!

Dual ammo

The Vigilante shoots both BB and pellets in two different circular clips. I uncharacteristically loaded the test pistol (I usually don’t shoot the guns in Part 1) with BBs, because I didn’t want to be embarrassed when someone told me the revolver really is semiautomatic. In doing so I learned that the two clips load differently, depending on the ammo they use.

Vigilante clips
The Vigilante comes with two circular clips. Pellets on the left and BBs on the right. They load differently, so read the manual!

Pellets?

Yes, this revolver does shoot pellets. In fact it is made to shoot them and it even has a rifled barrel! The 357 was the same, so this comes as no surprise to their owners, but over the years I have read their stories about how accurate this revolver is and now I plan to find out!

Vigilante rifling
The Vigilante barrel is rifled in the conventional way. I hope it’s accurate!

Breakopen

The Vigilante breaks open to load clips, in the same way that many revolvers of the past did — going all the way back to the first Smith& Wesson .22 in 1856. The 357 did the same and there were no problems that I know of from this. The placement of the circular clip behind the barrel ensures a short jump into the barrel, which is required for good accuracy. One of my most accurate firearm revolvers is a .455 Webley Mark VI that was made in 1916, and in 104 years its breakopen joint hasn’t suffered in the least!

Vigilante breakopen
The Vigilante breaks open to load and this design has been in use since the dawn of cartridge revolvers.

Adjustable sights!

Yes the sights are adjustable for both windage and elevation. The directions are not marked on the revolver because of space constraints, but they are clearly shown in the manual.

Vigilante rear sight
The rear sight adjusts both ways.

Overall impressions

This is a large air pistol. It fills my hand and then some. It is both single and double action, and I plan to test the velocity both ways. The accuracy I’ll test single-action only, but I will report on the double-action trigger pull.

The Vigilante is synthetic all over and at this price nobody minds. Does that mean it will eventually wear out? All things do and of course it certainly will over many years of use, but this synthetic is quite strong, and as long as you don’t abuse it you should get many, many years of good use.

Summary

This will be an interesting report. I have long wanted to explore this pistol and now I get the chance!


Reloading firearm cartridges: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Design an Airgun
  • Godfather’s Gold Gun giveaway
  • Reload a cartridge
  • Types of cartridges
  • Rimmed and rimless cartridges
  • Resize and deprime
  • Bell the case mouth
  • Prime each case
  • Put powder in the case
  • Powder measure
  • Insert the bullet
  • Summary

Design an Airgun

Just a reminder — the Design an Airgun contest ends on this Friday, October 16. The winner will be the niftiest design that most people can build. The winner will receive the American Zimmerstutzen as a prize. I have to limit the contest to residents of the United States because of international shipping laws but readers from other countries are welcome to show us their designs.

American Zimmerstutzen
The winner of the Design an Airgun contest will win the American Zimmerstutzen.

Godfather’s Gold Gun giveaway

Don’t forget that some lucky U.S. reader this month will also be drawn to receive the Godfather’s Gold Gun — an Ataman AP16 pistol designed by B.B. Pelletier. So, there is a lot going on this month!

Ataman AP16 Standard
The Godfather’s Gold Gun will belong to one lucky blog reader after October is over.

Reload a cartridge

Today we are continuing our tutorial on reloading a cartridge. We will actually put a cartridge together in this report.

Types of cartridges

There are several different types of cartridges. Some have bases that are rimmed. Those rims are what the reloading equipment holds onto while the case is run through all the reloading steps. Revolver cartridges like the .38 Special and rifle cartridges like the 30-30 are rimmed. 

Cartridges that work in semiautomatic actions have cases that are rimless. Those would be like the 9 X 19 mm Luger pistol cartridge and the 5.56 mm rifle cartridge. 

Rimmed and rimless cartridges

Each type of cartridge, rimmed and rimless, is held by the reloading press at its base. This requires some kind of shellholder for most reloading presses, though the Forester press has an automatic shellholder that opens to grab any cartridge base.

rimmed rimless cases
Rimmed .30-30 and .38 Special cases on the left — rimless 5.56 mm and 9X19 mm on the right.

Resize and deprime

The first step is to resize the cartridge case and remove the primer from its pocket. Resizing makes the case a standard size to fit the chambers of all guns. Today I will take it one step further and show you what can be done with a sizing die. Sometimes, one caliber case can be turned into another!

I was aware that the .38-55 Winchester (or Ballard, as it was called when it was first introduced in 1884) is the case that the .30-30 Winchester is based on. To turn one into the other all you have to do is resize the .38-55 case in a .30-30 sizing die! I no longer have a .38-55 rifle, but I do have a .30-30, so I took the few .38-55 cases I had laying around and turned them into .30-30 cases.

.38-55 case
A .38-55 case sits in the press, ready to go into the sizing die.

.38-55 case resized
After running it into the .30-30 sizing die and back out, this .38-55 case has been turned into a .30-30 case. Only the headstamp gives away what it used to be.

After this is done, the primer pocket must be cleaned, so the new primer can be inserted.

dirty primer pocket
This .38-55 has been resized into a .30-30 case, but its primer pocket still needs to be cleaned.

Once all the cases are sized and de-primed, I dump them into the tumbler that I showed in Part 1 and tumble them for about 12 hours. I do it overnight, so no time is wasted.

clean primer pocket
This is how they come out of the tumbler. Yes, this is a different case, because I already loaded the other one.

Bell the case mouth

At this time the mouth of the case is expanded or “belled” so it doesn’t shave off part of the bullet when it’s inserted and pushed home.  This is especially important when loading lead bullets, as I usually do. These days it’s hard to find jacketed bullets to buy, so my bullet casting has kept me and three other reloaders shooting. There is usually a special loading die to expand the case mouth, but when there isn’t, I use a .50-caliber bullet from a .50 BMG round to do it.

.50 caliber bullet
My .30-30 die set doesn’t have a die to bell the case mouth, so I use this .50-caliber bullet.

Prime each case

Now it’s time to put a fresh primer in each case. This can be done either with the reloading press or with a separate priming tool, like I showed in Part 2. Make sure the primer is flush with the bottom of the case or slightly below.

new primer
A fresh primer has been inserted. As long as the primer pocket is clean the primer will fit correctly. The notch on the rim of this case was for aligning each cast bullet  (that had been loaded into the case) in the same orientation, to help with accuracy. That was for the Ballard.

Put powder in the case

There are many different kinds of smokeless gunpowder. Some burn very fast and others burn very slow. Fast-burning powders are usually for short-barreled firearms like handguns. Slower-burning powders are for rifles and some magnum loads in handgun cartridges.  The reloading manual tells you what the safe loads are for each powder and bullet weight/type (lead or jacketed). I follow those recipes scrupulously. Safety is always the first concern for a reloader!

Powder measure

To measure the powder you put into the case a powder measure can be used. Since different powders come in different-sized granules and coarseness, you use different measures for different powders. It’s not one measure per type of powder. More like one measure for flake and ball powders and another one for granulated (like small grains of rice) powders. However, a few, like the RCBS Uniflow, work well with all powders.

RCBS powder measure
The RCBS Uniflow powder measure I use works well with all powders.

Once they are adjusted, powder measures will throw charges that are within 0.2 grains of each other — at least the ones I use will with the types of powders I use. That’s close enough for general shooting and hunting ammo. But for shooting small groups, it’s best to weigh each powder charge by hand. You set your measure to throw a charge that’s a few tenths light and then use a trickle charger to increase it to exactly the rght amount. Naturally every charge is weighed on a powder scale.

Lee also makes a set of special dippers that measure a load of powder reasonsbly well. With some practice and care you can usually stay within 0.3 grains of the desired charge.

Insert the bullet

The last step is to insert the bullet and ram it home with the press. As the press’s ram gets to the end of its stroke, the die is set to crimp the case mouth into the bullet. At least that is what I have my dies set to do. This step does not take force, but rather a feel for things. It’s easy to use too much pressure on the press handle. Everyone who reloads has a pile of cartridges where something went wrong. You try to disassemble as many of your mistakes as you can to save the components, but some cannot be saved.

empty and loaded cartridges
It took longer for you to read this report than it took me to do everything needed to turn the empty cartridge case on the left into a fresh new loaded round. Since I made the bullet, this .30-30 cartridge cost me a little more than a nickel!

Summary

Reloading is a good way to save a little money, and a great way to make better ammunition. And, when supplies are short, such as they are these days, it is the only way to continue shooting.

I went through all the steps today pretty fast. Let me know what you need to have explained better.


SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft gun: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Virtus AGE right
SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG right side.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Sig Romeo5 XDR red dot sight
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sig 0.20-gram BBs
  • Discharge sound
  • TSD Tactical black
  • TSD Tactical white
  • Summary

Today is the final test of the Sig ProForce MCX Virtus airsoft gun. So far we have tested the velocity and accuracy of 0.20-gram and heavier BBs with the 120 mainspring the gun came with. Then we swapped in the 110 mainspring that was also included and tested the gun all over again.

Today we test the accuracy of the gun with the 110 spring and 0.20-gram BBs. Let’s get right to it.

The test

I shot outdoors at 10 meters. The gun was rested on a sandbag. The Romeo5 XDR dot sight is still zeroed from Part 4.

Sig 0.20-gram BBs

I started the test with the 0.20-gram BBs Sig sent with the gun. They don’t have a BB of their own, and I don’t know whose BBs these are. Ten went into 2.151-inches at 10 meters. The group is centered on the bullseye very well, but it is a little high. So I adjusted the dot sight down several clicks before shooting the next BB.

Virtus group Sig BBs
Ten Sig 0.20-gram BBs went into 2.151-inches at 10 meters. The group is high, so the sight setting was lowered.

Discharge sound

Now that I have a sound meter I tested the discharged noise of the gun. I put my phone 4 feet to the left of the muzzle and pointed the microphone at the muzzle. I write that as a note to myself for standardizing future sound testing. A shot registered 89.1 on the meter. The only comparison I can offer is the .22 CB cap I recorded last week. The phone was farther away for that test and not pointed at the muzzle, and the discharge registered 88.2 decibels. No doubt it would have been a lot louder if tested under the same conditions as the Virtus.

sound meter
The Virtus registered 89.1 decibels Number on the lower right) on the sound meter.

TSD Tactical black

Next I fired 10 TSD Tactical black 0.20-gram BBs. They grouped in 2.565-inches at 10 meters. They are lower on the target and centered very well but still a little high. After this group was completed I adjusted the Romeo5 down 3 more clicks.

Ten TSD black 0.20-gram BBs went into 2.151-inches at 10 meters. The group is well-centered but still a little high, so the sight was adjusted lower again.

TSD Tactical group black BBs
Ten black TSD Tactical BBs were more centered on the target but were not as tight as the Sig BBs.

TSD Tactical white

Next up were TSD white tactical BBs. By this time in the test the sun was behind me and I could see each BB flying toward the target. They seemed to fly in an arc that peaked 3 to 5 inches above the bullseye. But when I collected the target I saw that the BBs had struck in the black or just above. One shot was off the target paper on the high side and the group measures 2.004-inches between centers at 10 meters. It’s the smallest group of the test.

TSD Tactical group white BBs
One BB hit 1/2-inch above the target paper, making this a 2.004-inch group of 10 at ten meters.

Summary

Well that is the complete test of the Sig ProForce MCX Virtus airsoft gun. Based on what we have seen the heavier BBs (0.28-gram and 0.30-gram) are the most accurate, but the 0.20-BBs are not bad, either. Maybe if I had adjusted the Hop-Up for each BB we would have seen something even better. The gun handles the 120 spring readily, though I like the 110 spring for the lower strain it puts on the gearbox. The trigger is great and there were no problems with feeding, once I learned how the magazine operated.

This is a serious gamer’s close quarter battle gun. It’s rugged, reliable, accurate and works exactly as it should. The battery has lasted for all testing on just a single charge.

The Romeo5 XDR dot sight was a real treat to use! It adjusts precisely and I like that 50,000-hour battery life for the ONE AAA battery this sight uses! I will be sad to see this one go home.


SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft gun: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Virtus AGE right
SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG right side.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • 110 mainspring
  • BUT
  • Prediction
  • Changing the mainspring
  • Assembly
  • Performance
  • 0.20-gram BBs
  • Rock and roll
  • 0.25-gram BBs
  • Battery
  • Summary

Today we’re going to have a little fun. I know some of you would like to work on spring-piston airguns but you just don’t want to jump into the deep end of the pool — as in buying expensive tools like a mainspring compressor and parts that may or may not work as you expect. Today we are going to change the mainspring in the SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft gun, and we will do it with two Allen wrenches — nothing more! This is a job any of you can do. Then we’ll test the velocity of the gun and see what impact the new spring has made.

110 mainspring

You may recall that Sig bundles a 110 spring with the Virtus, while the 120 spring comes installed in the gun. First off — what do the numbers 110 and 120 mean? That rating relates to how fast that spring will propel a 0.20-gram BB in meters per second. So a 120 spring should propel a 0.20-gram BB at 120 meters per second, which is 394 f.p.s. That’s regardless of what airsoft gun it’s in.  A 110 spring should propel the same BB at 110 meters per second, which is 361 f.p.s.

BUT

Airsoft springs are also rated with an M or an S (which can also be an SP). The M spring is the one that’s rated to toss a 0.20-gram BB as described above. The S or SP spring is rated for a 0.25-gram BB. The velocity in meters per second remains the same, but since the 0.25-gram BB is heavier, the gun will naturally be even faster with a lighter BB. So the higher the number the stronger the spring and M versus S or SP also figures in.

The 110 replacement spring that comes with the Virtus is an M110 spring, and Sig recommends using 0.20-gram BBs in the gun. They don’t say anywhere that I can see whether the 120 spring that comes installed is an M or an S, but given the ammo recommendation, I believe it is also an M120 spring.

So, what sort of velocity did we see from the 0.20-gram BBs with the 120 spring installed? Sig said to expect a 370 f.p.s. velocity, but we saw an average 410 f.p.s. speed. What I just explained was what the manufacturers say to expect from a 120 spring — 394 f.p.s. That’s real close to 410 f.p.s., so again, I think the gun had an M spring. An S120 spring would have given 394 f.p.s. with 0.25-gram BBs and probably 430 f.p.s with 0.20-gram BBs. Of course, that’s just my guess.

Prediction

So, the Virtus that I’m testing shot on the fast side with its M120 spring — assuming I am correct about it being an M-rated spring. Therefore, I predict that it will also shoot on the fast side with the M110 spring. Instead of 361 f.p.s. I predict a 0.20-gram BB will average 380 f.p.s. I am writing this before shooting the first shot with the new spring.

Changing the mainspring

Changing the mainspring is very easy. First, extend the wire buttstock all the way and then remove the 3mm Allen screw on the right side, where the stock meets the receiver, and the entire stock slips up and off the receiver. By the way, the Virtus manual says the screw is 8mm, but it’s actually 3mm — no doubt a mistake in transcription. When the screw is out, a plastic keeper that it passes through also comes out and the stock slips up and off the rear of the receiver. When reinstalling the stock make sure the V-notches on both sides of the receiver line up with the two heavy wires in the stock.

Virtus AEG stock off
With the screw and keeper out of the stock the entire  assembly slips up and off the receiver.

Once the buttstock assembly is off the gun, the rear of the spring guide is exposed. The manual calls it a screw that you turn 180 degrees, but it’s actually a bayonet keeper. Turning 180 degrees aligns the flanges of the keeper with their raceways and the mainspring pushes the keeper out. Remember that the keeper is under spring pressure, so pressing in on the wrench helps loosen it for turning.

Virtus AEG receiver
With the stock off the rear of the spring guide (arrow) is exposed. Insert a 5mm Allen wrench and turn the guide counter-clockwise 180 degrees.

Virtus AEG  spring out
When the bayonet lugs align, the spring guide is free to come out. This is how far the 120 spring pushes the guide out. You can restrain it easily with your hand.

The two springs compare in this way. The 120 spring is made from heavier wire and the 110 spring is longer — though that may change after a few weeks in the gun. Both springs are wound with what the airsoft industry calls irregular pitch, which means some coils are closer than others. That allows the spring to start compressing easier and then increase in tension the more it’s compressed. It’s supposed to be easier on gearboxes, though you will find a lot of arguments on both side of that issue!

Virtus springs
The softer M110 spring is on top and the 120 is below. It’s not easy to see, but the 120 spring is made from heavier wire. Both springs are wound with an irregular pitch.

Assembly

The Virtus goes back together the reverse of the way it came apart. And it’s just as easy as it sounds. It’s taken me a long time to describe a process that took me 20 minutes to perform — again with just two Allen wrenches.

Performance

Now, let’s find out what installing this lighter spring has done for us.

0.20-gram BBs

First to be tested were 0.20-gram BBs. I believe I am out of the BBs Sig sent with the gun so I used 0.20-gram TSD competition BBs. The average velocity for 10 was 380 f.p.s. Sometimes old BB gets it right on the nose!

The spread went from a low of 370 to a high of 383 f.p.s., so a 13 f.p.s. difference. With the 120 spring the average was 410 f.p.s. with a 6 f.p.s. spread.

Rock and roll

I emptied the magazine on full auto and truthfully could not tell any difference in the cyclic rate this time versus with the 120 spring. There may be some but it’s pretty small.

0.25-gram BBs

Next I tried the same Open Blaster 0.25-gram BBs that I shot before with the heavier spring installed. The average this time was 343 f.p.s. with a 5 f.p.s. spread from 340 to 345 f.p.s. With the 120 spring the average was 365 f.p.s. with a 2 f.p.s. velocity spread. At the end I dumped the magazine on full-auto again, remembering to fire a couple shots on semi-auto afterwards to relax the spring.

I did not load heavier BBs for testing. I think the 0.25-gram BBs are as heavy as I would go with this spring, given the velocity we have seen.

So, the 110 spring varies in velocity slightly more than the 120. Of course this spring is brand new and may settle down a bit after a few thousand rounds have been fired.

Battery

I would like to point out that the battery has never been recharged since I started the test and it is still going strong. Not only has it fired many hundreds of rounds including lots of blank shots, it has also been stored charged for two months.

Summary

Next we test the gun for accuracy. If the accuracy is reasonably equivalent to the 120 spring I think I will leave the 110 spring installed. It is no doubt a little easier on the gearbox.

This Virtus AEG is a serious airsoft gun, as I have maintained all along. This is the kind of equipment a skirmisher wants to have for close-quarters battle!


SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft gun: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Virtus AGE right
SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG right side.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • A discovery!
  • The test
  • ASG 0.25-gram Open Blasters
  • TSD Bio 180 0.26-gram BBs
  • TSD 0.28-gram Tactical BBs
  • ASG 0.30gram Blaster Devil BBs
  • Full-auto
  • Summary

Today I’m shooting the Sig ProForce MCX Virtus AEG  with heavier BBs than Sig recommends. You will be able to compare today’s groups with those from Part 3 to see which BB you think is best.

A discovery!

Before we begin I need to tell you about a discovery I made. In the last report the 0.20-gram BBs that Sig supplied with the gun were not feeding well from the magazine, nor were 0.25-gram Stealth BBs. In today’s first test I had the identical problem and discovered that it isn’t the BB; it’s the magazine. It does not like feeding the last four BBs when it’s in the semiautomatic mode. So, for all of today’s test I filled the mag with way more than the 10 shots I needed and after the target was finished I went full-auto outdoors in a safe direction with the BBs that remained. All four of the BBs I tested today fed perfectly that way.

The test

I shot all the targets from a rest at 10 meters. Until the last target, all shooting was one round at a time, which is the semiautomatic rate of fire. I did not adjust the Romeo5 XDR dot sight or the Hop Up at all today. I think you will see that things worked out well

ASG 0.25-gram Open Blasters

The first BB tested was the ASG Open Blaster that weighs 0.25-grams. Ten went into a group that measures 2.041-inches between centers.The group is very well-centered and I am happy with it.

Virtus 25 0.25-gram Blaster
Ten ASG 0.25-gram Open Blasters went into 2.041-inches at 10 meters.

TSD Bio 180 0.26-gram BBs

Next to be tested was the 0.26-gram TSD 180 Bio BB. Ten of them went into 4.34-inches at 10 meters. It’s a strange group because 6 of them are in 1.041-inches in nearly the center of the bull. But those four other shots are there and represent some inconsistency. So this isn’t a good group overall.

Virtus 0.26-gram TSD Bio 180
Ten TSD Bio 180 0.26-gram BBs went into 4.34-inches at 10 meters. Seven of them are in 1.041-inches.

TSD 0.28-gram Tactical BBs

Next up were 10 TSD Tactical 0.28-gram BBs. These surprised me when 10 went into 1.804-inches, with 8 in 1.512-inches. This looks like a very stable BB for the Virtus.

Virtus 0.28-gram TSD tactical
The 0.28-gram TSD Tactical BB looks good. Ten are in 1.804-inches with 8 in 1.152-inches.

ASG 0.30gram Blaster Devil BBs

The final BB I tested was the 0.30-gram Blaster Devil. Ten went into 1.661-inches. That’s the best group of ten for this test, but for some reason it didn’t seem like it at the time. When I went outside the dump the BBs remaining in the magazine full-auto, I could see them dropping fast after 10 meters. That is why I didn’t select them for the next test, which will be burst-fire in full-auto.

Virtus 0.30-graom ASG Blaster Devil
Ten 0.30-gram ASG Blaster Devils went into 1.661-inches at 10 meters. It’s the smallest 10-shot group of this test, but I didn’t like how they fell off after about 10 meters when fired longer distances full-auto. 

Full-auto

Like last time, I took what I thought was the best BB overall in this test, which was the 0.28-gram TSD Tactical and I fired a bunch of them at the last target full auto. “A bunch” turns out to be 17 BBs. I shot the Virtus off the rest and held the trigger back until no more BBs came out. As with all the BBs in this test and the previous one, the magazine empties completely in full-auto. You must remember to then place the selector in semi-auto and fire a couple blank shots to relax the mainspring again.

Seventeen BBs went into 3.496-inches at 10 meters when fired full-auto. Notice that they stayed mostly well-centered within the bullseye, with only two BBs straying outside. This would be a good close-range BB for skirmishing.

Virtus full-auto
On full-auto the Virtus put 17 0.28-gram BBs into 3.496-inches at 10 meters.

The Virtus was more accurate today with the heavier BBs than it was in Part 3 with the 0.20-gram BBs that Sig Recommends using. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should use the heavier ones, because distance is also a factor. But it is worth knowing that as the BB weight increases the groups get smaller.

Would the groups have continued to shrink if I had tested even heavier BBs than those I tested today? Perhaps, but after seeing how the heavier BBs dropped in flight after about 10 meters (on full-auto) I thought the gun had come to the upper edge of its BB-handing ability.

It’s now clear to me that the Virtus is designed for short bursts of full-auto fire. It does work in the semi-auto mode and it works quite well, but that’s not what it is designed for.

Summary

We have reached the end of our tests of the Sig Virtus AEG airsoft gun with the 120 spring installed. Next time I will replace this mainspring with the lighter 110 spring and conduct both velocity and accuracy tests again.