HW 30S: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

HW 30S
The HW 30S I am testing seems to be a new version.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Lots of questions
  • Air Arms Falcon dome
  • RWS Superdomes
  • Crosman Premier Lights
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Safety
  • Rifle can be uncocked
  • Summary

Lots of questions

There certainly was a lot of chatter about the HW 30S breakbarrel from Weihrauch. Several of you asked why Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry it and is it the same as the Beeman R7? Well, it is very close to the R7, though I don’t know if the R7’s stock will be modified in the same way that the 30S stock has been. A lot of readers said they liked the new shape. I do, too. The checkering/stippling has also changed and I have no idea if the R7 will have the same pattern, but I doubt it. The R7 is a Beeman-branded air rifle and should not carry the Weihrauch name prominently, as this stock does.

I did ask Pyramyd Air whether they carry the 30S and they said they decided not to, because the R7 is so similar. Oddly the Beeman R7 is also available in .20 caliber but not in .22, while the 30S is available in .22 caliber but not in .20. I think the .20 caliber is a nod to Dr. Beeman, who prefers that caliber best of all 4 smallbore calibers, but it’s also a marketing mistake because there aren’t that many different good pellets available in .20 caliber. I think a .22 would sell much better.

It’s clear from several comments that the 30S has changed over the years. Some owners have one with a globe front sight that doesn’t accept inserts like this one. Some have a breech that isn’t notched like the test rifle. But the ball-bearing barrel detent seems to date back at least 30 years or more. However, reader Fish showed us that there was a 30S that had a chisel detent in the distant past.

Now let’s look at the performance.

Air Arms Falcon dome

The first string of 10 Falcon domes averaged 601 f.p.s. The low was 589 and the high was 609, so a difference of 20 f.p.s. I believe a lube tune that I intend doing will tighten that up a bit. At the average velocity the Falcon develops 5.88 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

RWS Superdomes

Next up were RWS Superdomes. At 8.3-grains I expected them to be slower, and they were, but not by much. Ten averaged 591 f.p.s. from the 30S, with a low of 572 and a high of 614 f.p.,s. That’s a difference of 42 f.p.s. That’s quite a lot, and I expect it to drop over time and perhaps with lubrication.

At the average velocity the Superdome develops 6.44 foot-pounds at the muzzle. So they are a little slower than the Falcons but a little more powerful.

Crosman Premier Lights

The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. Ten of them averaged 593 f.p.s. but the spread was very large, at 47 f.p.s. The low was 569 and the high was 616 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Premier Light generates 6.17 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Cocking effort

The rifle took 22 pounds of effort through the entire cocking stroke, with a bump up to 25 pounds at the very end. The end of the stroke is where the rear of the piston cocks the trigger, so I may be able to decrease that a little with lubrication. I have no plan to disassemble the Rekord trigger like some shooters have reported, so I’ll either correct it with lubrication or it will remain.

I also have to comment that, while the ball bearing detent does keep the breech sealed well, it also offers little resistance when you cock the rifle. There is no need to slap the muzzle to break the barrel open.

Trigger pull

I tested the trigger as it came from the factory. It is two-stage with stage one taking 12 ozs. It has a positive stop at stage two. Stage two then breaks at 1 lb. 15 oz., so even from the factory this trigger is nice and light.

I mentioned in the Part One report that stage two of the trigger in the test rifle had a little creep and that I planned to lubricate and adjust it for you in a special report. Well, after velocity testing today all the creep has disappeared. I could use this trigger exactly as it is today, but I will still do a special report on the trigger to show lubrication and adjustments.

Safety

The Rekord trigger has a button safety that pops out on the left side of the rifle when the trigger is cocked. You have to push the button in before the rifle will fire, and there is a definite click when it releases. On some rifles the tolerances are a little off and the rifle can be cocked without setting the safety. Some shooters learn to do this and others disable the safety altogether. Back in the real old days (1950s and ’60s) there was no safety at all.  No HW 55 I have owned has had a safety and I have seen several older R7s without one.

But taking the safety off after cocking soon becomes second nature to anyone with a Rekord trigger. My advice is to leave it functioning and learn to work with it.

HW 30S safety off
The safety is off.

HW 30S safety on
The rifle is cocked and the safety is on.

Rifle can be uncocked

Because the safety can be taken off at any time, the HW 30S can be uncocked. Hold the end of the barrel against the mainspring and take off the safety, then pull the trigger and allow the barrel to close slowly. To reset the safety you break the barrel down all the way — even when the rifle is cocked. The piston rod has to push a part in the trigger down just a wee bit more for the safety to reset.

Summary

Reader Fish asked me if the 30S had replaced the Diana 27S as my favorite air rifle. I told him no, but it might be just as nice.

My plan is to complete a regular set of testing with this rifle, which includes one accuracy test at 10 meters with the open sights. Then I will address the trigger lubrication and adjustments in a special report. Then I will lube-tune the rifle and test velocity and accuracy again. Then I will mount a scope and test accuracy at 25 yards. Then I will install a Vortek PG-2 SHO spring kit and test velocity and accuracy once more. 

When I finish with the Weihrauch HW 30S you guys are going to know it just as well as I do.

Then I plan to get an HW 50S and run similar tests. And then we can make some comparisons. We are going to have some real fun with these two air rifles, and it just may last for most of the rest of this year.


HW 30S: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

HW 30S
The HW 30S I am testing seems to be a new version.

This report covers:

  • The stock
  • Light!
  • Sights
  • Rekord trigger
  • Adjust trigger
  • Articulated cocking link
  • Surprise number 2
  • Summary

Today we start looking at the Weihrauch HW 30S that I mentioned yesterday. It arrived last evening and I am excited to get started. There are two surprises awaiting, so let’s get started.

The stock

Let’s start with surprise number one — the stock. It is profiled in a very modern style. Gone is the western hunting profile. It’s been replaced by a more tactical-looking butt. It has just a hint of the A4 kickdown tactical butt without shoving your face in it. Compare it to the SIG ASP20 stock.

HW 30S ASP20 stock
The Sig ASP20 stock had the same tactical look.

The bottom of the cutout at the bottom of the butt is flat. You might not appreciate that until you slide a rear sandbag underneath and notice the stability. And folks — these are all small touches that any company can make that costs very little and add so much.

HW 30S butt bottom
The bottom of the butt is flat for stability.

HW 30S forearm
There are identical checkered, stippled and carved panels on both side of the forearm.

HW 30S grip
The grip is also checkered, stippled and carved. 

This stock fits me quite well. The forearm is thin so the rifle drops down deep in my off hand the way I like. The pistol grip is very full — almost to the point of being a palm swell. The pull from the trigger to the center of the soft but firm red rubber butt pad is a manly 14-1/8-inches. And the stock is 100 percent ambidextrous. Whoever designed this stock knows rifles! I’m not saying it will fit everyone but those it doesn’t will be in the third standard deviation on either side of the mean.

Light!

The first thing I noticed as the rifle came from the box was how very light it is! Mine weighs 5 lbs. 13.2 oz. It is 38-7/8-inches long with a 15-1/2-inch barrel. I think the slim profile of the stock adds to the impression of lightness.

Sights

And the gifts just keep on coming! The NON-FIBEROPTIC sights — thank you, Weihrauch! — are wonderful. The rear sight adjusts in both directions and has 4 different notches to choose from.

HW 30S rear sight
The HW 30S rear sight adjusts both ways. There are 4 different notches to choose from.

But it is the front sight that is amazing. In 2021 I never expected to find a globe front sight that comes with 6 inserts on a rifle selling for under $300!

HW 30S front sight
The front sight accepts inserts. The 5 additional sight inserts are in a pouch hanging from the triggerguard.

HW 30S front sight inserts
A pouch that hangs from the triggerguard holds five of the six front sight inserts that come with HW 30S. The other one is in the sight.

Rekord trigger

But wait — there is more! Aside from the small, light style, the HW 30S comes with a Rekord trigger! That’s what the S in the title signifies. And yes, there are HW 30 rifles that don’t have a Rekord trigger. If anyone owns one please speak up and tell us about it.

HW 30S Rekord trigger
The 30S has a Rekord trigger.

Adjust trigger

I will tell you right now that the trigger in my rifle is not adjusted the way I prefer. There is some creep in the second stage. Therefore, before I shoot for accuracy, I will adjust the trigger. That will be a report of its own. I have adjusted Rekord triggers before in this blog but I think this will be the first time I have adjusted and reported on one just as it comes from the factory.

Articulated cocking link

The 30S has a 2-piece articulated cocking link. That means that the cocking slot in the stock can be very short and that means less vibration. However, I have shot this rifle (had to, you know) and there is the tiniest bit of vibration. After the regular test and trigger adjustment I will break her down and tune her to be slick and quiet. But that ain’t all!

Surprise number 2

I told you there were some surprises in store with this rifle. The stock was the first one. Now let’s look at the second one. To see it, and I should say them, I broke the barrel open. Let’s look.

HW 30S breech
There they are — surprise(s) number two! From the bottom up I see a ball bearing barrel detent. That’s easier to machine in many respects, so Weihrauch is keeping the cost under control. 

I would like to hear from HW 30S owners whether your rifles have ball bearing barrel detents. I believe they had chisel detents at some point in the past. In fact I believe they had them until recently.

Above the barrel detent I see a funny-looking notched breech. Wait! I saw one like this recently, didn’t I? Where was that? On the Diana 34 EMS? The one with the interchangeable barrels?

Diana, this is a message from the folks at Weihrauch. When you launch an air rifle with interchangeable barrels and aren’t ramped up to supply the barrels yet — remain quiet! Don’t make it a feature that you can’t supply. In the future you can pull back the curtain and reveal an added value that’s been there for some time. AirForce Airguns does it that way, and their owners love them for it. Leave the stuff that isn’t real for BB’s April Fool’s blog!

Above the breech you can see the four rear sight notches. Choices!

Summary

Guys, we have a real winner to examine in this HW 30S. This is gonna be a fun series for all of us!


Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS) Synthetic: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 34 EMS
Diana 34 EMS with synthetic stock.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Scope
  • The test
  • Pellets
  • Sight-in
  • JSB Exact Heavy domes
  • Crosman Premier Heavy
  • Trigger
  • Heavy pellets
  • H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head
  • Evaluation so far
  • Summary

Okay. Today is the test many have been waiting for — the Diana 34 EMS at 25 yards. How accurate is it?

Scope

I scoped the rifle with an older  UTG AccuShot 4-16X50AO scope, mounted in BKL 2-piece double-strap one-inch rings. Since the scope was already shimmed in the rings I figured they would adjust to the point of aim relatively easily.

The test

I shot from 25 yards with the artillery hold and my off hand rested on a sandbag. I will note that with the thumbhole stock I’m testing a true artillery hold isn’t possible, but I held the rifle as loosely as possible. My off hand was at the rear of the cocking slot.

I shot 10-shot groups today. I have to say the EMS is easy to cock and you don’t have to slap the muzzle to break it open. This is a very well-behaved air rifle.

Pellets

I selected JSB Exact Heavy domes from the test at 10 meters. In that test we learned that the 34 EMS likes heavier pellets that are also larger. So I also selected two heavier pellets that I hadn’t tried before. When you see the results I think you’ll agree I picked two good ones.

Sight-in

I shot a single JSB Heavy pellet at 12 feet and confirmed that the scope was close enough on for me to back up to 25 yards. Once there it took me three more shots to get on target. Of course I didn’t want to hit the center of the bull and destroy my aim point, so all groups will be at the edge of the black.

JSB Exact Heavy domes

First up was the sight-in pellet. The first shot landed in the top of the bull and I thought it was perfect, but the next several landed high and outside. When all 10 had been shot I had a somewhat vertical group that measures 0.675-inches between centers. It’s a little larger than I would like from this rifle, but there were no shots that were called pulls.

Diana EMS JSB Heavy
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 JSB Exact Heavy pellets into 0.675-inches at 25 yards.

Crosman Premier heavy

The second pellet I tried was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. These pellets are sometimes the best of all, and today was one of those days. The 34 EMS put 10 of them into a tight 0.619-inches at 25 yards. 

Diana EMS Premier heavy
Crosman Premier heavys wanted to stay together when shot from the Diana 34 EMS. Ten went into 0.619-inches at 25 yards.

Trigger

You may recall that the 34 EMS has a different trigger that is not crisp like the Diana T05 or T06. This trigger has a second stage through which the trigger blade moves considerably. It’s light enough, but not crisp. I have said that it feels like a single-stage trigger, once you get to stage two. I got used to it in Part 3 and today I was able to do good work with it. I still can’t tell when the rifle is about to fire, but pulling the trigger has no adverse effect on the stability of the crosshairs.

Heavy pellets

I think there is something to this thing about heavy pellets and the EMS. It seems to like them a lot. If you get one of these, try it with heavy pellets first.

H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head

The third pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda with a 4.50mm head. I just knew this one was going to shoot well and it did. Ten of them went into 0.634-inches at 10 meters.

Dioana EMS Baracuda
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 H&N Baracudas with 4.50mm heads into a 0.634-inch group at 25 yards.

Evaluation so far

I really like the Diana 34 EMS. It is different than the Diana 34 of the past that we knew, but it is a worthy air rifle in it’s own right. Yes, Diana shouldn’t have touted the barrel shimming and caliber swaps before they worked out the details, but that marketing blunder has no bearing on the rifle’s excellence.

I don’t often select spring rifles to shoot at 50 yards, but I’m choosing this one. With luck I’m thinking we could see ten pellets in less than one inch.

Summary

If you have been waiting to see whether the Diana 34 EMS was a worthy air rifle, I think that point has been proved. I would recommend getting the wooden stock just so you can shoot with the full artillery hold, but if money is an object this synthetic thumbhole stock can also shoot. Today demonstrates that.

I just hope Diana makes the gas pistons, barrel shims and different caliber barrels available soon. I would sure like to try them out!


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?


Saving money at any expense

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Crosman Premiers
  • A dollar cheaper
  • Cut a slot in your head!
  • Back to airguns
  • Which one?
  • How to choose
  • Same for airguns
  • We’ve been invaded!
  • Whatcha do
  • Summary

Ahhh! Saving money. Many of the airgunners I know will go to extremes to do it, and it often costs them a lot.

Crosman Premiers

I remember back in the middle ’90s, when the Crosman Premier pellet was the talk of the airgun world. Everybody wanted Premiers because they flew so straight in so many airguns. I remember talking to the Crosman engineer who designed the Premier. He attended an airgun show in Baldwinsville, New York, and no, it wasn’t Ed Schultz. He told me he designed the Premier line to be aerodynamic and when the design was finalized, all the pellets in the line were very aerodynamic. So Premiers flew straight and true and everybody wanted them.

A dollar cheaper

But because they were airgunners, everybody wanted the cheapest Premiers they could buy. So when Rick Willnecker offered Premiers in his store at a dollar a box less than what they sold for online, the hunt was on! One guy on my Airgun Letter yellow forum bragged about driving from southern Virginia to Rick’s place in Pennsylvania, where he saved five dollars! He drove over 200 miles round trip to do it and spent the better part of a day on the road. Some savings!

Cut a slot in your head!

When I worked as a contractor, teaching members of the Department of Defense how their acquisition system worked, the talk was always about saving money. And yet the actions that were taken were often just the opposite. The systems my clients bought were huge telecommunications systems that were unique, as in one of a kind. They used minicomputers, which in those days were VAX 11-780s — tall cabinets the size of two large school lockers, and the systems might have dozens of them! We were also pushing the state of the art, when it came to the response times of these systems.

Guys, when you build a unique system you want it to work well, come in on time and be cheap. Pick two of those three things, because it is impossible to get all three! I got so frustrated with this “buying on the cheap” mindset that I told my clients if they wanted to save money they should cut a slot in their head and become a piggy bank.

Back to airguns

How does this relate to airguns? Simple! You want a pellet rifle that’s pleasant to shoot, accurate and has a good trigger. Looks aren’t as important, but you don’t mind if the gun you get looks traditional. You want a .177 because you are getting this airgun just to plink and to have some fun. Your choices are a Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with a lightning gas ram, an HW 30S and a Shining Mountain single shot. These three are all breakbarrels that shoot at under 700 f.p.s.

The Woods Raider QT XDR retails for $249. The HW 30S retails for $299 — $339, when it’s in stock, but it seems to be sold out everywhere. The Shining Mountain sells for $169-199.

Which one?

You are not new to airguns. You know that the Shining Mountain breakbarrel is from China. It could be good, but it’s being sold by small fly-by-night dealers on eBay and Amazon, and you also know that the accuracy will be a crap shoot. Some of the dealers will be honest and easy to deal with if you get a rifle that’s lousy, but you just went through a nasty return experience with a no-name dealer and you aren’t up for another one so soon.

The Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram is being sold by a major distributor and Pyramyd Air has them in stock. However, you know that this rifle is also probably Chinese, so you will be taking the same chance with accuracy as you would with the Shining Mountain. The good news is there are two reputable companies between you and this purchase. Both of them have good reputations for customer satisfaction. But still, there is all that doubt about the DNA of the airgun. And it has a gas piston that, I don’t care who made it, always makes the rifle a little harder to cock.

And then there is the HW 30S. Without question this one is the most expensive of your three choices and what’s worse, it isn’t available right now. You just got your income tax refund and you want an airgun!

The HW 30S will be smooth and accurate. You know that it will have the best trigger of all three choices and also that Weihrauch air rifles are made to be serviced by their owners. So, if you ever want to modify it or to lubricate it, this is the only one of the three that makes it easy for you.

How to choose

Allow me to reflect on how a 73 year old diabetic looks at something like this. It’s lunchtime and I want a hot fudge sundae for dessert. I have the ice cream, the whipped cream and the hot fudge on hand to make it. I know that if I eat one right now my blood sugar will be off the chart for the next two days. And also, because I am lactose intolerant, there could be problems during my daily walk that comes up in about three hours.

Having gone down this trail many times in the past I have learned that abstinence always hurts up front, but it also almost always pays off in the long run. I say almost always, because sometimes I just gotta have that sundae!

Same for airguns

It’s the same for airguns. Right now you can’t find an HW 30S for sale in the United States.  But there are still plenty of Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDRs with lightning gas rams and Shining Mountain breakbarrels for sale. Why?

We’ve been invaded!

The socio-political events of recent times have driven all the packrat airgunners in the United States to fill their nests with shiny trinkets to the point that there is no room for them anymore. Also, a hundreds-of-times larger herd of packrats has crossed over from the world of firearms. They can’t find enough 9mm, .40 cal. and .223 Remington ammo to fuel their weekly habit of punching paper, and they heard that airguns are the next best thing. They are used to paying thousands of dollars for an all-up AR-15 and when they saw that the HW 30S was only $339, they figured that was chump change.

These guys listened to all of you before they made any purchases and you warned them about the Shining Mountain breakbarrels and the Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram. They were able to run over the barbed wire entanglement that you guys fell on in your years of becoming airgunners, by stepping on your backs. And now there is no toilet paper in the airgun world. Whaddaya do?

Whatcha do

You can buy what’s out there right now, and in a few days the brown Santa (or the dark blue Tooth Fairy) will deliver a happy package to your doorstep. Or, you can grit your teeth and commit to spending even more money by ordering an HW 30S from whomever will take your order. And then you wait. Yeah — I hate waiting too, but what’s even worse than waiting is opening that happy package and discovering that you now have to justify an air rifle that’s deficient in multiple ways, when old BB Pelletier told you there is something much better. Darn it, BB, why didn’t you stick to straight razors?

Summary

There are a lot of ways to go, these days, but not all of them will get you where you want to be. This stuff is so easy for me to write because over the years I have made all these mistakes — many times!


Grips & tips

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today we have another guest blog by reader Ian McKee who goes by the handle 45Bravo. He tells us about fixing some vintage Crosman plastic grips and some other tips he has for us.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Take it away, 45Bravo.

Crosman 38T
Crosman 38T.

Grips & tips

This report covers:

  • The grips
  • Now for some useful tips
  • Barrel alignment
  • Velocity adjustment
  • Leaks
  • Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

Judging by the interest in B.B’s Crosman 38T blog, this is a very popular vintage CO2 revolver that seems to have flown under some people’s radar.  Since I have one on my workbench at the moment, I thought I would share a few helpful tips from the Crosman Factory Service manual, and some things I have learned from working on one. 

The grips

I’ll start with the grips. Unlike the Crosman Mark I & II pistols that have a metal tube in the grip frame to house the CO2 cartridge , the 38T is different. In this model you have to remove the left grip panel to change a cartridge. The grip panel is held in place by a metal clip that is attached to the grip and clamps onto the CO2 cartridge when it is installed in the gun. The grip then aligns to the frame by two locator pins on the pistol’s grip frame.

Since the grip is held in place by a CO2 cartridge, people sometimes left a cartridge in place thereby shortening the life of the CO2 face seal.  

TIP: If you decide to leave a cartridge in the gun, tighten the piercing screw just enough to hold the cartridge in place, not enough to compress the face seal. 

The plastic grips are now over 40 years old, and may have become brittle. On this pistol, the lower grip alignment post is broken and the top one is deformed from repeated use.

Crosman 38T left grip bottom
The locating pin hole at the bottom of the left grip panel is broken. Where the metal spring clip attaches there is also a hairline crack on both sides.

Crosman 38T left grip top
The locating pin hole at the top of the left grip panel is deformed from use.

All of these faults should be repaired. They will only get worse in time, so now is the time to fix them.

[Editor’s note: I discovered when searching for Crosman 38Ts, that damage to the left grip panel is a common problem with these guns. Several guns are being sold with either a damaged panel or even a missing left grip. There are no replacements other than from donor guns, so fixing the panel is the only way to go, unless you plan to make custom grips.]

I chose to use superglue and baking soda for the repair. When mixed these materials create a chemical reaction that hardens instantly. I don’t know the science behind it, but I remember some readers discussing the science after I used it on the Beeman P17 sight fill in blog.

To give the plastic post some extra support I wound part of a ballpoint pen spring around the damaged part. I then used the superglue and baking soda to build up the area in layers. Once it had hardened, I used small files to shape it to the approximate size, and shape.

Crosman 38T spring repair
This section of ballpoint pen spring reinforces the location pin hole, so the superglue and baking soda has something to shape it.

Crosman 38T locating hole repair
The baking soda/superglue mixture hardens right away. The next step is to file it flush or just below flush.

When you finish the posts need to be either flush with the grip level, or just a smidgen below level. 

Crosman 38T locating hole repair 2
Here I am cleaning up the repair of the bottom locating hole.

I used a drill press with a Dremel tool round ball bit to make the dimples for drilling the alignment pin holes. That allowed me more precision than if I had just tried to drill them out freehand.

Another reason I chose the superglue/baking soda repair is, as you can see, the white repair area stands out like a sore thumb. 

When both locating holes were repaired I used a Minwax stain marker that’s used to cover scratches in wood furniture, as the baking soda/super glue absorbs the color readily. The red mahogany color is a perfect match for the grips on this pistol.  

(Note: the color and pattern of the grips vary from pistol to pistol, no two are identical).

Crosman 38T wood stain
Minwax 225 Red Mahogany stain marker blended the two repairs very well.

Now for some useful tips

According to the new Blue Book of Airguns, the Phase I pistol has a metal rear sight and cylinder as mentioned in Part 1 of the 38T blog. The Crosman Factory Service Manual shows that it also has a 1-piece cylinder base pin and screw that the cylinder rotates on, and holds the outer barrel in place. 

The Phase II pistol has a plastic rear sight, a plastic cylinder, a 2 piece cylinder base pin, and a screw that holds the outer barrel on. Like Tom, I have no clue how the Phase III model differs.

[Editor’s note: one of our readers said that in Phase III only .177 caliber was available. But no other differences were mentioned.]

Barrel alignment

Sometimes the sights may not have enough adjustment to get your point of impact to meet your point of aim. The manual says to remove the outer barrel, and then loosen the grub screw on the top strap (38-050). Then you can rotate the inner barrel to a different position to adjust your point of impact.

Crosman 38T parts

Velocity adjustment

The manual says there may be two reasons for a low velocity, first improper lubrication of the moving parts. Or, the velocity adjuster is either missing, or not in the correct place. Yes that’s right, this pistol has a velocity adjustment! It is a small spool-shaped spacer between the frame and flat hammer spring, shown as part # 38-104 in the exploded parts view above. If yours is missing, you can use a small nut, or plastic spacer

Crosman 38T power adjust
That spacer (arrow) puts variable tension on the hammer spring to vary the power of the gun.

For best results, the service manual suggests it be placed about 1 ¼ inch from the bottom of the spring, but since we don’t know the diameter of the original, it will be trial and error. 

Leaks

If the pistol is leaking from somewhere other than the CO2 piercing seal, you will have to remove the left side cover to locate them. 

DO NOT REMOVE THE COVER WHILE THE GUN IS PRESSURIZED!

The piercing block is under 800 psi or more when there is gas in the gun, and the block is held in place by the side cover only.

Once the gun is degassed, remove the sear spring and plunger (38-89 & 38-39), and the ball detent and spring (600-079 & 38-064) so they don’t get lost.

You have to hold the piercing block in place while you pressurize the gun. Use a parallel clamp or something similar, do not use vice grips, or other sharp-jawed tool that will damage the softer pot metal of the gun’s frame.

Crosman 38T clamp
Use a clamp to hold the piercing assembly in place when you pressurize the gun to check for leaks.

Put a several drops of Pellgun oil on the indicated areas (three arrows) to see if any bubbles form from leaks. If there are leaks, you can try tightening the connections just a little, if that does not stop the leaks, put your small parts back in and just wait until your seal kit comes in the mail. 

Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

I have been using Renaissance Wax for a while on my airguns, and for others I have worked on for friends. It is a brand of microcrystalline wax polish used in antique restoration and museum conservation. It cleans and protects the surface; so far I am quite pleased with the product. 

Crosman 38T Renaissance Wax
After repairs I use Renaissance Wax to protect the surface of the guns.

So there you have it, a quick repair, and hopefully some insights into a very neat vintage CO2 pistol. 

Take care, and be safe.

Ian


Things this blog has taught me: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Steel dreams
  • Steel dreams become real things!
  • Let’s look at this rifle
  • Back to today
  • Postscript

This report is inspired by reader RobertA from New Zealand. He has been modifying a Gamo CF-S springer and sharing the experience with us in the comments. He is now struggling with a mainspring made from 3mm wire, which is 0.118-inches in diameter. He replaced the stock spring that was 2.3mm (0.091-inches) in diameter. Now his rifle is rough and recoils more than it did before. Here is what he said.

Hello! Another update on my Gamo CF-S monster…

Changing up from the 2.3 mm wire spring to the 3mm wire spring has been a bit of a shock. Kept getting my nose hit with the dioptre sight. It was not fun after a while! Pellets definitly fly much faster but the TWANG and rifle kick/wobble is remarkable. The 2.3 mm spring is really quite nice, but slow. The .177 pellets are going through 1/3 inch pine plywood with no concern at 20m. For a giggle I swapped out the dioptre for the 4×32 scope, eye relief means I don’t get hit in the nose. ouch. A relaxed shoot with a friend and we were having a laugh. Lots of banter and very little serious shooting. Fun! But we got a few 10’s!

Here is a pic of the rifle with the scope ( still no cheek rest yet… I know I need to make one…) and the best looking target. I was shooting sitting in camp chair ( best way I reckon…) and trying not to laugh at my mates balderdash. ( he kept claiming all my good shots as his own… the cad. ) Hope you are all good and things are fine!” Robert.

This reminded me SO MUCH of the Steel Dreams report that I’m reposting the ENTIRE report for you today. I believe there are a lot of folks who haven’t seen it yet. I’m editing it to make it a single report. Here we go.

Steel Dreams

More than a decade ago (this was published in 2008, so I’m referring to the late 1990s), I saw a curious rifle at the Little Rock Airgun Expo. It looked something like a Beeman R1 but was quite a bit larger. When the seller told me that it was a handmade, one-of-a-kind rifle that was designed to be a more powerful R1, I couldn’t resist buying it. I had just published the R1 book, and here was a great follow-on story that needed to be told.

Vissage rifle
This curious Springer is a monster.

Steel dreams

The inventor of this rifle, Steve Vissage, had seen the Beeman R1 and wanted a rifle that would put a .22 pellet into the supersonic realm. That was quite a goal for a spring-piston gun of the early 1980s, and it still hasn’t been reached today by any except a few PCPs (remember — this was written originally in 2008). Steve thought the best approach was to increase the diameter of the piston and to increase the length of the stroke — some of the same topics we frequently discuss on this blog.

Now I’ll tell you why I am making this report. A number of our new readers are asking the same questions that Steve Vissage asked back in 1981. What does it take to get more power from a spring-piston air rifle? Back in 1982, the R1 was the most powerful spring-piston gun in the world. At 940 f.p.s. in .177, it offered velocity undreamed of 5 years earlier.

When the R1 came out, Robert Beeman wrote in his catalog that it took more than just a powerful mainspring to boost power in a springer. But, because those catalogs are now collector’s items, a lot of newer airgunners haven’t had the opportunity to read them. Many who might have read them don’t believe what Beeman said. What Steve Vissage did is what many of you think should be possible today, and I want to share my observations on that topic.

Steel dreams become real things!

Vissage built three rifles, of which mine was the first. Let me explain what’s so different about talking about airguns and actually building them. When guys start discussing airguns, anything seems possible; but, whenever Vissage made a decision, it got locked into steel…not easily changed. Even if he did make some changes, there was still a cost involved for the original decision that was not followed. Steel dreams cost more and take longer than daydreams. If you don’t understand what I’m driving at, you will by the time this report is finished.

Vissage baseblock marks
The date of manufacture and serial number are stamped on many exterior parts. SS stands for supersonic and V1 stands for Vissage model 1.

Vissage baseblock marks left

Both sides of the baseblock and spring tube are marked similarly.

Let’s look at this rifle

A stock R1 (The Beeman R1 was discontinued but the HW 80 that was its foundation still exists) weighs 8.9 lbs., give or take. Many new airgunners feel it’s far too heavy, and they’re also impressed by it’s sheer size. The Vissage rifle weighs 11 lbs. It’s also longer than the R1, but I don’t seem to have recorded the length. (I was told by the seller that) The barrel came from an Anschutz target rifle; and, since Anschutz doesn’t make target air rifles in .22 caliber, I think that means it’s a .22 rimfire barrel. So, accuracy was out the window, because .22 rimfire bores are several thousandths larger than air rifle bores, and don’t fit pellets very well. (After speaking with Vissage I sorted this confusion out.)

The spring tube, end cap, baseblock and cocking link are all custom-made parts.I spoke to Steve and he told me he reckoned he put $600-700 1980’s dollars into making this one rifle. The wood stock came from an HW80. It was opened up to receive the 40-thousandths-larger spring tube. The forward stock screws are very close to the end of the forearm. Look closely at the first photo, and you’ll see they had to be moved forward almost an inch.

Vissage end cap
Just so there is no doubt who made the gun, Steve put his address on the end cap. He later moved from that address. See that flathead screw ahead of the end cap? That’s how the end cap is held to the spring tube.

The sights are stock Weihrauch items, the same as come on an R1. There is no provision for mounting a scope. The entire rifle is plated with Armaloy, a tough material used on tactical handguns. It is said to resist wear and to be self-lubricating.

The trigger is a Rekord, which was very popular back in the 1980s. Vissage would have been able to get one easily, since they had been on the HW35 for at least 20 years at that time. This is a good place to reflect that he used the factory trigger and sights instead of inventing his own. By this point in the project, he’d sunk a lot of money into this rifle, and inventing a whole new trigger would have cost him more than all he had spent to this point. Don’t forget that all the internal parts – the piston and mainspring, for instance, have to be made from scratch, because the entire rifle has different dimensions than a standard R1.

Speaking of different dimensions, how does Vissage get a stock Rekord trigger to line up with the piston hook if all the internal dimensions are different? Details like that are always overlooked when guys talk about airguns; but, when you actually build one, you want to cock it!

Vissage trigger
Here is what happens when dimensions change. The Rekord trigger had to be suspended at a different point inside the end cap in order to align with the piston hook. See the empty hole at the top left? That’s where the safety button is supposed to go if this were an R1, but ooops – it doesn’t contact the trigger because the end cap is larger than an R1 cap. Look at the picture before this and see the other side of the cap. No safety!

Naturally, as a red-blooded airgunner, I put it through the chronograph first thing. The cocking effort was 53 lbs., compared to a Beeman R1 that cocks with 36-41 lbs. of force. So, while the rifle isn’t the heaviest-cocking springer I’ve ever tested (that distinction belongs to a Hatsan 135 that took 75 lbs. to cock), it certainly wasn’t built for casual plinking.

The firing behavior was harsh. There was a huge lunge forward plus lots of vibration. The big lunge means a heavy piston, and the vibration usually means a canted mainspring. I said that the barrel was an Anschutz, but I found in my notes that Steve Vissage told me he thought he remembered putting a Webley Osprey barrel on the gun.That would have had the proper dimensions for a .22 caliber pellet.

The velocity I got with 14.5-grain Eley Wasp pellets was 755 f.p.s. I checked with the two .22 caliber R1 rifles I used in the R1 book, and they averaged 725 f.p.s. and 751 f.p.s. after 1,000-round break-ins. Steve Vissage remembered a velocity of around 800 f.p.s. with this gun, but that could have been with a different pellet.

Then, I disassembled the rifle. I was all set to use a mainspring compressor, but Steve told me the mainspring was under about a half-inch of preload. So, I removed those three machine screws and the one triggerguard screw, and the end cap popped up by less than a quarter-inch. I guess over time the spring had scragged (taken a set length from which it will never diminish until it wears out).

preload
Not a lot of spring preload. Vissage saved some money by not threading the end cap like a Weihrauch.

With the end cap off, the mainspring came out, and it’s a monster! Its 32.5 coils are made from 0.190″ ASTMA 410 silicone chrome wire. The compressed length is 6.175″, which must be a record for spring rifles. The mainspring weighs 12.2 oz. (RobertA — this is for you).

An R1 mainspring weighs 6.3 ounces, in comparison, or just over half what this one weighs. Look at the photo for a comparison.

Vissage springs
Guess which spring goes in the Vissage rifle? The R1 spring on top is worn-out and canted. The Vissage spring is also canted, although this picture doesn’t show it.

The piston came out next. It weighs 18.2 oz. and is 1.30″ in diameter, while an R1 piston weighs 12.6 oz. and is 1.147″ in diameter. Vissage had the piston tempered and shot-peened to relieve stress. The piston rod was hardened and drawn to a dark straw color. That should make it file-hard. The spring guide is also proportionately larger than the R1 guide.

Vissage pistons
Vissage’s piston weighs over a pound and dwarfs the R1 piston beside it. Those two things on the left are the respective spring guides.

A close examination of the piston seal revealed several flat spots, which are burn marks from excessive friction. Vissage told me he put a lot of effort into the selection of material for the piston seal. He was looking for high-lubricity and tolerance for high-temperatures from the heat of compression. Those flat spots told me the seal was too dry and was wearing from the friction with the chamber.

Vissage seal
See the flat spot that’s facing you? That’s a burn due to friction.

After seeing the massiveness of these parts, I felt that some velocity was lost by a slowdown in acceleration of the piston. The weight of the piston told me where the rifle’s powerful forward lunge was coming from. However, before you start criticizing Vissage, let me tell you that Jim Maccari once made a plastic piston for a TX200 to accomplish just the opposite – faster acceleration from lighter weight. That gun vibrated like a jar full of mad hornets, so you can go too far either way. And if people hadn’t experimented in this way, none of us would ever know!

The piston seal is not a parachute design. Perhaps there’s some loss of pressure around the sides, where the high-pressure air has nothing to confine it. A parachute seal would inflate and push its sealing edges against the cylinder walls, but this seal can’t do that.

I lubricated the piston seal with Beeman M-2-M moly grease before installing it again. The mainspring received a coat of Maccari’s black tar to cut the vibration (Today I’d use Tune in a Tube). All friction points received a coat of M-2-M grease. The thin washers at the pivot point had never been lubricated. Steve counted on the Armaloy plating to self-lubricate, but I found it mostly scraped away when I disassembled the rifle. So, I used moly paste on the washers, and the cocking got smoother.

When the gun was back together, it felt like the cocking effort had diminished, when in fact it had actually increased by 2 lbs.! It was smoother but also a little harder to cock. The velocity with Wasps averaged 776 f.p.s., but that dropped to 767 pretty fast. I imagine the rifle will sink back to 755 in time. It vibrated much less this time, though there was still some present.

Sorry to say that I never shot the Vissage rifle for accuracy. I was more interested in how the powerplant performed; and, as we saw, it was about like a factory R1.

When I tuned a standard Beeman R1 with a Venom Mag 80 Laza kit, the average velocity with Eley Wasps jumped to 840.8 f.p.s., and the firing behavior was as smooth as glass. The Venom kit was the first to offer Delrin button bearings ( read my 10-part report on the Diana 45 to learn about them) to float the piston in the spring tube. It took 50 lbs. of effort to cock, but the return was a much more powerful air rifle.

That’s the tale of a man and his quest for speed. The other two rifles he built were a .177 and a rifle with both .177 and .22 barrels, which he kept for himself. Vissage never went supersonic in .22 caliber, but I bet he knew a lot more about what goes into a powerful spring rifle after this project was over! And, now, we all know a little more.

Back to today

Okay, there is a LOT more to talk about. I have reader Michael’s Walther LGV on hand to tune right now. It’s the gun that Michael said squeaked when cocked. He sent it into Umarex USA but wasn’t satisfied with it when he goit it back. I told him I would take a look at it and attempt to fix whatever is wrong.

Well, this rifle doesn’t squeak now; it’s dead quiet when cocked. To me that means that the technicians at Umarex USA lubricated the piston seal corerectly. But it has the worst vibration I have ever felt in an air rifle when shot. How Umarex could have returned it this way and say that it’s fixed is beyond me!

Postscript

That’s what this series will be about — getting a spring rifle to fire smoothly so it is a delight to shoot. I probably should have made this a Friday blog because I expect a lot of comments. And though we start with a lot of history, this isn’t an historical blog, either.  I hope that this is a common-sense report about how a spring rifle ought to be set up. That’s my goal, anyway.

And, as a second postscript, Steve Vissage passed away years ago.