A little more power

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • HW 30S
  • The point
  • Which should I get — an HW 30S or a 50S?
  • My opinion
  • AirForce
  • OR —
  • Rebuttal
  • What is the big deal?
  • What to make
  • What about velocity?
  • Who doesn’t need speed?
  • A BB story to illustrate
  • Summary

Today I am exploring the topic of wanting a little more power from your airgun. Everything else can stay the same — you just want it to shoot a little faster.

HW 30S

I recently purchased an HW 30S to test for you. I had to buy it from a foreign dealer because Pyramyd Air no longer carries the 30S model. They do carry the Beeman R7 that is based on the 30S. Other than the stocks and the names on the gun the rifles are identical. The R7 Elite has a different stock that’s checkered, but it also sells for more money. But that’s not today’s point.

The point

The point is, I wanted to test and evaluate the kind of airgun that, in my opinion, is at the top of the heap, worldwide. And it is there for many reasons:

  • Rekord trigger
  • Great accuracy
  • Lightweight and easy to cock
  • Nice adjustable sights with interchangeable front inserts

But you know what the HW 30S is not? It’s not powerful. And that fact alone prevents many sales to “airgunners” who just have to have a little more power. The members of this blog who comment know better, but the wide world of airgunners is not in step with us. Some websites show velocities for the .177 model (yes, there is a .22) of up to 700 f.p.s. But a far more realistic figure is down around 625 f.p.s. Now, that is Diana 27 territory, and you know how I feel about that rifle! Is the HW 30S in the same category as the Diana 27? A lot of you feel that it is, and I wanted to test it, to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something good.

Which should I get — an HW 30S or a 50S?

I get asked this question several times a year. And I didn’t know how to answer it, because my exposure to the 30S is limited. I do know the older HW 50S, but the newer one that superseded it several years ago is another air rifle I’m not familiar with.

As it turns out, my old HW 55SF — an extremely rare and collectible target rifle in its own right — is based on the older HW 50S spring tube.  My rifle has been tuned many times by former owners and once by me and it currently shoots RWS Hobbys at an average 631 f.p.s. I can’t use that to say how fast an older HW 50S was supposed to shoot, but I do believe it was a little faster. I’m thinking somewhere in the low to mid 700’s.

The new HW 50S, however, is more powerful. The Pyramyd Air website shows the .177 at 820 f.p.s. And in their tests they saw one shoot a Hobby as fast as 849 f.p.s. With that there is now a definite separation in the velocity of the two air rifles. So — which one should you get?

My opinion

I haven’t tested either air rifle yet, so I shouldn’t have an opinion. But I do. It’s based on nothing further than my personal experience with Weihrauch and what I have read about these two air rifles. Get the 30S first and the 50S later, if money permits.

But like I said — I have never tested either air rifle. So what do I know? Let’s stay on topic but talk about something else.

AirForce

When I worked at AirForce here is a conversation I often heard. “I own a TalonSS. I like the accuracy and shot count, but can I get a little more power? What if I put in a stronger hammer spring and a heavier hammer? They guys on the Talon Forum say that’s the way to go.”

“Sure,” I tell them. “Go ahead and do that and then send me your basket case rifle and I will try to repair it for you. That’s what I’m doing for all those guys on the Talon Forum!”

OR —

Or, you can learn something about precharged pneumatic airguns and install a 24-inch barrel in place of the 12-inch barrel that came on the rifle. I did a test on that in Part 4 of A TalonSS precharged pneumatic air rifle, back in April of 2012. My standard SS with a 12-inch barrel shot .22-caliber Crosman Premiers at 854 f.p.s. on a certain power setting. I then swapped the barrel for a 24-inch .22-caliber AirForce barrel and on the same power setting shot the same Crosman Premier pellet at an average 1,027 f.p.s. From the 23.16 foot-pounds the rifle was getting, the longer barrel boosted the power by more than 10 foot-pounds to 33.5 foot-pounds. That’s a 69 percent power increase from just changing the barrel. Or, you could dial the velocity back to 23 foot-pounds with the longer barrel and get many more shots per fill. Either way, a longer barrel puts a pneumatic ahead every time.

Rebuttal

“Yeah,” they say. “but a spare barrel costs a bundle ($209.00 for a .22-caliber 24-inch barrel when this blog was published)! I can get a Captain GoFaster hammer and spring for $40.” 

So, do that. And then pay me $200 to repair your rifle, plus $35 shipping each way, when that heavier hammer and spring wrecks your action after about 200-300 shots. I fixed Mr. Condor’s rifle after the same abuse.

“Well, they shouldn’t build their rifle with an aluminum frame. If it was steel it wouldn’t get wrecked so easily!”

Wait just a second. Aren’t you the same guy who said the HW 80 is too heavy and they should either make it from titanium if they can keep the price the same, or at least from hardened aluminum?

What is the big deal?

So why am I writing this report today? I’m writing it because airgun companies aren’t hiring shooters anymore. They are hiring folks who have held positions in other companies doing other kinds of things and does it really matter whether they design a macerating toilet or a spring-piston powerplant? Isn’t all engineering just engineering?

Better yet, why not use someone else’s engineers? Can’t we just examine a finished product that we don’t have to pay to design or gear up to manufacture, so more of our money stays with us? Yes, you can. In fact, if that is your business plan you don’t have to spend any money on engineering or on plant setup. Just buy what your customers say they want.

Let’s see now, they say they want:
A .308-caliber breakbarrel rifle that can take down medium-sized game.
A powerful precharged air rifle that weighs less than 6 pounds.
A full-auto pellet rifle
An air rifle that shoots pellets at 1,700 f.p.s.

All of these are things “they” (airgunners on forums) have said they want and would pay money for. All have been built except the last one. It turns out that can’t be done on air. Only helium can shoot a pellet that fast.

“They” won’t spend the $500 for the full-auto pellet gun. “They” won’t buy the titanium PCP that weighs less than 6 pounds because it costs too much. “They” are staying away from the .308 breakbarrel because it’s too hard to cock.

The moment something becomes real, “they” scatter like cockroaches. “They” love to talk, but “they” have no money.

What to make

Make airguns that really sell. Make accurate airguns that have good triggers and great accuracy. So what if the prices climb as the features are added? “They” don’t have any money to spend anyhow, but real airgunners do.

What about velocity?

I started this report talking about the need for speed and how it isn’t a real thing — at least not one that an airgun company needs to worry about. Remember the Umarex Hammer? It took four years and multiple redesigns to bring it to market. And over those years that $500 big bore went up to $900 retail as the design was refined.  It went from a 3-shot repeater whose tagline was, “The world’s most powerful production airgun”  to a 2-shot that puts out 700 foot-pounds. That’s very powerful, but it’s not the most powerful production air rifle. And here is the deal.

Nobody needs 700 foot-pounds of muzzle energy to kill deer-sized game. You can drop a whitetail deer with 250 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, so 500 foot-pounds is more than enough. Sure, speed and power both sell. I understand that. So your marketeers are going to push for all the speed they can get. Have the good sense to shove them to the rear of the room and listen to those who really know the market.

Yes, if you only sell in discount stores then the highest velocity is what you want printed on the box. But someone in the company needs to worry about the volume of returns, when it becomes obvious to the buyers that speed kills — everything they thought they wanted in an airgun!

So how do you get a new shooter to make a wise decision and spend almost $300 for a breakbarrel rifle that won’t shoot as fast as one costing $100? One way is to publish a blog with a writer who has made all the mistakes you are about to and can show them and tell you about them in a way you can understand. You may not believe him up front, but after a couple times, when you have the same experiences he warned you about, you’ll start to see the bigger picture.

Who doesn’t need speed?

Believe it or not, there is a huge group of airgunners who absolutely don’t want faster airguns! We call them 10-meter shooters. In the 1960s their target air rifles shot around 650 f.p.s., but today they are content to shoot at 575 f.p.s. They have no problem spending in excess of $3,000 for a rifle or $2,000 for a pistol, and higher velocity will only kill the deal. But you gotta give them accuracy and a great trigger and superior ergonomics and other features that help win matches. And I wouldn’t listen to what the former brand manager for a soap company tells me about the 10-meter airgun market! He may learn the lingo in a day, but he may never understand the product, the market or the ten times bigger market that watches what the competitors choose and buys accordingly.

A BB story to illustrate

BB Pelletier is currently considering purchasing a motorcycle. BB rode bikes in the 1960s and ’70s and has owned 15 or 20 of them over the years. BB is an old man who hasn’t ridden in 40 years. But BB reads this blog every day — even though it doesn’t always look like it to his readers.

So BB went to a Harley Davidson dealer last Saturday to check out the Harley Sportster Iron 1200. That’s right — a girl’s bike! BB is challenged by his 28-inch inseam and, although he has owned two Harleys (a ’46 knucklehead and a ’48 panhead) in the past, plus a Laverda 750 and a Suzuki 850GS, he no longer likes tall heavy bikes. BB wants to keep both feet flat on the ground, and an Iron Sportster 1200 lets him do that.

But the Sportster is a girls bike! Yes, BB is aware of that. He probably won’t be joining any MC clubs, unless they let girls ride, too. BB will wear a helmet every time he rides because, although a helmet is not required in Texas, BB has been under cars a couple times in the past and doesn’t want to dull the shine on his chrome dome.

So even BB Pelletier, who is one of the most untrainable men on the planet, can learn from his mistakes. Be of good cheer, RidgeRunner, there is even hope for you.

Summary

In short, your airgun customer is a guy or gal who likes to shoot. Find out what they like about shooting and try to give it to them. It isn’t always speed or horsepower.

Forget the kids (of every age) who shop by the velocity numbers and low prices at the box stores. Yeah, they’ll buy but they won’t keep your company in business forever. You need Momma and Daddy Deepockets who know what they want.


Resealing the Crosman 38T target revolver: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Grips & tips
Part 4

History of airguns

Today we have another guest blog by reader Ian McKee who we call 45Bravo. He shows us how to reseal a Crosman 38T revolver. The revolver he reseals is the same .22 that I am about to test for you and also the same gun whose grips he fixed for us, so I linked to all the previous Crosman 38T links, because this is a large series.

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

Take it away, 45Bravo.

Resealing the Crosman 38T target revolver

Resealing the Crosman 38TThis report covers:

This report covers:

  • Start
  • Disassembly
  • The seal kit
  • The piercing assembly
  • The tube assembly
  • The valve group
  • Assembly
  • Hammer and trigger assembly
  • The valve group
  • The barrel and shroud

The 38T is a vintage all-metal (except the grips, rear sight, and the rotating pellet cylinder) CO2 replica revolver that closely mirrors the lines and grip of a 1980’s Smith & Wesson revolver. 

In the firearm world, most revolvers are considered a simple design, and they do have relatively few parts.  But when you make a airgun replica of a firearm, you have to work within the envelope (profile and dimensions) of the original. 

That means you have to get creative with your engineering and layout as to where you can place your necessary components such as the CO2 cartridge, the valve, and the way to feed the intended projectiles. Typically, on a piece-by-piece count, an airgun will have more internal parts than its firearm twin. Today we look at such an animal.  

I apologize in advance that it is a long blog, but there are a lot of steps to cover.

Start

Start by removing the grips, the right grip is held in place by 2 screws, the shorter one of the 2 goes in the top of the grip, the longer screw goes in the bottom. The left grip is held in place by a spring clip that attaches to the CO2 cartridge, so the grip will not stay in place unless a CO2 cartridge is in the gun.  Remove the left grip, and then unscrew the CO2 cartridge piercing screw, and remove the cartridge.

TIP:  I would suggest leaving a cartridge in the gun, but not pressed into the CO2 face seal. Just tight enough to hold the grip in place.  You sometimes see these pistols listed for sale without the left grip as it has become lost over the years. 

These grips are thin, and tend to break and crack around the alignment pins and also where the CO2 clip is attached. The gun I’m resealing had those issues, and the repair has been covered in the GRIPS & TIPS BLOG.

Phase 2 parts

Disassembly

Included with this blog, are a few different exploded views of the pistol, please use them to guide you in removing the parts, which I will list as we go. 

The above parts diagram is for a Phase II gun, which is what I am working on, so the part numbers will match. There are a few differences in this gun from a Phase I gun, but the differences are minor. I will include a Phase 1 parts diagram at the end of the blog for those that have the earlier gun. I believe the Phase 3 guns will have the same parts as the Phase 2 guns.

Start by loosening the rear sight elevation screw 2 turns to relieve tension.

Remove the outer barrel shroud by removing the single screw that is under the barrel in the end of ejector shroud (140-013), then with a slight wiggle, slide the outer shroud off of the barrel. 

There are 5 screws on the left side of the gun, that hold the cover in place. They are all the same length, and it does not matter which hole they go into when the gun is assembled. 

Slowly lift the left side cover, there is only 1 spring that will want to pop out (38A083), and it is the spring that pushes the sliding loading gate into its forward position.  The spring is relatively weak, and not under much tension.  

38T cover off
Here are your thousand words. 

Remove the sliding pellet loader (38A042) and spring (38A083) from its tray. 

Using tweezers, remove the sear spring (38-039) and spring guide (38-089) that is behind the sear (38-040) near the rear of the trigger. 

Next, remove the detent ball (38-064) and spring (600-079) that are in the front of the gun, right below the base pin that the pellet cylinder rotates on. 

Remove the hammer spring (38-B038). It is a long flat spring that goes from the bottom of the grip to the hammer. Use needle-nosed pliers to remove this spring by lifting the bottom straight up out of its resting place. It is not under much tension. 

Depending on which phase your pistol is, there MAY be a small ball detent that is under the rear sight elevation screw, be careful not to lose it if yours has one. You may remove the rear sight and spring now, but it is not necessary for the reseal, or you may cover it with masking tape to hold it in place while working on the gun — your choice. 

You will see a large flat lever assembly (38A054) that goes from the trigger to the front of the gun. On the right side is a small roller (38-125) that is in a raceway, remove this roller. 

Congratulations! You have now removed all of the springy bits that are likely to take flight easily.  

Place your hand over the exposed components, turn the revolver over and remove the valve body screw (150-013) from the false “cylinder” on the right side of the gun.

Turn the gun back over, unscrew the base pin (38-127) on which the cylinder rotates. 

Now remove the pellet cylinder (38-107), the entire valve assembly (38-073), and lever assembly (32A054) all at the same time and set them aside. 

The lever assembly (38A054) is factory assembled with special jigs to assure proper timing and should not be disassembled. 

Remove the trigger (38B034), the trigger spring (38-126), and the transfer bar (38A102). 

Remove the hammer (38-106) and hammer pawl (38-021) that pivots inside the hammer, carefully remove the pawl spring (38-039 and guide (38-081).  

Now for the reason we are here. This airgun leaks and we need to stop that foolishness. 

38T valve breakdown

The diagram shows the valve is broken down in 3 sub-assemblies, 55 (the piercing assembly), 56 (the tube assembly), and 60 (the valve assembly).

TIP: The factory service manual says not to separate the 3 assemblies unless absolutely necessary, but since you will be replacing a seal on each end of the tube, you have to separate them.  It is also better to take them apart so you do not inadvertently bend the tube. 

(I tried it their way first, and DID accidentally bend the tube, and had to correct that problem when putting it back together).

Using 2 small adjustable wrenches, unscrew the copper connector tube and piercing assembly from the valve body, being careful not to bend or break the tube assembly.

A small metal washer (part 51 in the diagram) may come out with the tube assembly, but that is ok, just make sure it goes back in first. 

Then using the same 2 small wrenches, unscrew the piercing assembly from the tube assembly. Do not disassemble the tube assembly itself unless it is absolutely necessary, as it is flared on each end. 

The seal kit

The seal kit Tom ordered for this pistol came with all the parts necessary to reseal the pistol including a small bottle of lubricant I will call Pellgunoil.  It is a very complete kit, and the seals are very good quality compared to others that are sold online. 

38T seal kit
I have labeled the parts to match the part numbers shown in the diagram.

The piercing assembly

38T piercing assembly
The piercing assembly.

Using a wide blade screwdriver, or a spanner wrench, unscrew the guide collar (24), end seal (25), piercing pin (27), and piercing screen (28) from the piercing block. 

Clean the assembly with alcohol and a Q-tip. Using the new parts from the reseal kit, lubricate them with the Pellgunoil, or your choice of lube, and reassemble in reverse order and set aside. 

The tube assembly

38T tube assembly
Tube assembly.

Remove the old small seal (part 65) and lube the new seal and carefully put it over the flared end of the copper tube. 

Remove the old larger seal, (part 17) and lube the new one and carefully put it onto the other end of the tube. Set it aside. 

The valve group

Using a spanner wrench, or needle nosed pliers, or a wide blade screwdriver modified for this purpose, remove valve seat (91), being careful to keep finger or thumb pressure on as it is under spring tension. 

Remove the valve components gently using a dental pick to remove the inner parts.

Pay special attention to the parts orientation as they come out. 

Clean the assembly with alcohol, let it dry, and then lube the parts as you reassemble. 

38T main valve order 1
Main valve order 1.

Lay the cylinder (part 9) large end down on a rag or towel, lube the parts with the Pellgunoil as you assemble them. 

The o-ring (part 88) goes in first, valve washer (part 13) goes in with the small lip down toward the o-ring, and the flat side up toward the valve spring.

The valve spring (78A) is tapered, and the large end goes in first. 

Start stacking the components in order, 22, 78A, 18, 92, install the oring (part 58) on part 91. 

38T main valve order 2
Main valve order 2.

Being careful not to cross-thread the top valve seat (91), tighten until contact is made with the valve washer. Then tighten 1/8 – 1/4 turn more. This will squeeze the o-ring a little to make it seal against the valve body. 

Assembly

Now we are ready to put it all back together.

Hammer and trigger assembly

Wherever there is metal-to-metal contact, lube lightly with moly lube or your choice of lubricant. 

TIP: The key word is LIGHTLY, since the speed the hammer falls does have a direct effect on the velocity, and excess lube could slow the hammer fall. 

Install the hammer pawl (38-021) into the hammer (38-106), and the guide pin (38-081) and spring (38-039), and the small bushing (38-125), and place the hammer on the hammer pivot pin.

Insert the flat hammer spring (38B038) into the lower part of the frame, and into the hammer.

Install the transfer bar (38A102), trigger spring (38-126) and trigger (38B034) onto the trigger pivot pin. The transfer bar goes into the smaller of the 2 holes in the trigger.

The trigger spring goes over the trigger pin, the short leg sits on top of the trigger, the long leg rest on the lower part of the frame as shown in the photo. 

38T trigger and hammer assembly
Trigger and hammer assembled.

The valve group

Carefully screw the tube bushing into the piercing block, taking care not to damage the new seal. But do not tighten it yet.

Insert the metal washer 51 into the valve, and screw the other end of the tube assembly into the valve taking care not to damage that new seal. Again, do not tighten this end yet either. 

38T 38-073
The valve group — assembly 38-073.

As one complete unit, install the cylinder (38-107) (the plastic part that holds the pellets), the valve group (38-073) (the valve, tube and piercing block, and the lever assembly (38A054) (the long silver bar with the spring loaded hook on one end.)

NOTE: the piercing block fits into a matching recess on the right side of the frame, the gas tube should be in the position farthest from the hammer. 

Carefully holding everything in position with the palm of your hand, install the valve body screw (150-013) that holds the valve to the right side of the frame. 

Install the cylinder base pin (38-127).

Check that the gas tube is not rubbing on the hammer, and then tighten both ends of the gas tube. Check the clearance again. 

Install the ball detent (38-064) and spring (600-079) into the front of the cylinder, and the sear (38-040) on its pivot pin below the hammer, then install the sear spring (38-090) and plunger (38-089).

As it sits, the springy things should not want to fly out. 

Double check the bushing on the hammer/lever assembly is in place, the cylinder ball detent and spring are in place, and the sear spring/plunger are in place as indicated by the arrows in the photo below. 

38T springs in place
The springs have been installed (arrows).

Place the pellet loader (part# 38-42) in the loading tray of the main valve body with the rounded or tapered end toward the pellet cylinder. 

We will install the loader spring after the side cover is installed. 

Install the side cover with the 5 screws, they are all the same, so it does not matter where they go. 

Double check the trigger and hammer function in both single action and double action to ensure there is no binding.  

At this stage of assembly, if it is binding, the tube is probably rubbing on the hammer, or you forgot to tighten the valve body screw on the right side of the gun (part# 150-013).

The barrel and shroud

If you took the barrel off, look for the mark the set screw left on the barrel, and install it with that mark aligned with the set screw, insert a 0.004 feeler gauge or shim between the barrel and cylinder, and tighten the set screw (part#38-050).

Install the spring (38A083) for the pellet loader in the grove with the end that is tightly coiled toward the back of the gun, and using tweezers or a similar tool, put the front of the spring under the rear of the loader. 

Install the outer barrel with screw (140-013).

Install the right grip panel with the 2 screws.

Hopefully, you have no leftover parts. 

Now you can function test the gun again, checking that everything moves freely. Install a fresh CO2 cartridge, and check for leaks. 

Here is the Phase 1 parts diagram I promised.

Phase 1 parts

ONE FINAL TIP: The manual suggests using a coin to tighten the piercing screw, because a screwdriver could provide too much leverage and may possibly damage the gun.

If you are into revolvers you should have one of these very neat replicas in your collection. 

Thank you,

Stay safe.

Ian


The EM GE Zenit air pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Zenit
The German Zenit air pistol from before World War II is a fascinating collector’s item.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • What should I do?
  • RWS Hobby
  • Leakage at the breech
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Trigger pull
  • The grip
  • Cocking effort
  • Summary

I wanted to run 45Bravo’s guest blog about resealing the Crosman 38T today, but it’s long and has a lot of pictures, and today is busy for me, so instead I will test the EM GE Zenit that we started looking at on Monday.

What should I do?

Only one person responded to this request that I listed as a questioin at the end of the last report. Reader 1stblue said I should oil the piston seal. That’s what I was looking for. Now, how is it done? What I did is stand the piston on it’s grip with the muzzle pointed straight up and drop 5 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil down the muzzle. Then I let the pistol stand that way for a day. That gives the oil time to run down the bore and through the air transfer port to get onto and soak into the leather piston seal.

It did work, though I will have more to say about it in a bit. So now let’s look at the velocity. I shot two shots just to get the oil out of the barrel. Then I shot the following with Air Arms Falcon pellets.

Shot………Vel.
1…………..262
2…………..276
3…………..291
4…………..281
5…………..284
6…………..293
7…………..294
8…………..285
9…………..297
10…………299
11…………296
12…………297
13…………299
14…………293
15…………291

I show you this string because it shows that the pistol is still settling down after being oiled. Where to start counting for the record is arbitrary, but I decided to let the first five shots go and start counting at shot 6. If I do that, the average velocity for shots 6 through 15 is 294 f.p.s. I always round off to the closest whole number.

Taking my string, the low is 285 and the high is 299 f.p.s. — a spread of 14 f.p.s for 10 shots. And an average energy of 1.41 foot-pounds.

So, 294 f.p.s for Falcons. That’s a little faster than I expected from the Zenit. Let’s try a different pellet.

RWS Hobby

The next pellet I’ll try is the RWS Hobby wadcutter. I know that the Hobby, though lighter, is also larger at the skirt. And the Zenit isn’t very powerful, so I expected a velocity decrease.

Ten Hobby pellets averaged 237 f.p.s., which was a bit slower than I envisioned. The low was 224 and the high was 259, so the spread was 35 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Hobby produced 0.87 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Leakage at the breech

Some of you wondered how well this pistol seals at the breech. You didn’t see an over-center cocking link on the pistol and frankly there isn’t one. Because of the oiling, the pistol was dieseling and I saw smoke come out of the breech contact point under the top strap on every shot.

The breech seal is in fine shape. This is a design flaw, not a seal issue. Yes, I could spend the time to make a new leather breech seal that would seal better for a while, but before too long we would be right back where we started from. This seal relies on a butt joint fit and nothing else. It’s always going to leak a little.

Zenit breech detail
The leather breech seal sits flush with the air transfer port in a butt joint. The cocking link holds it down, against the air transfer port. 

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I tested was the 7.33-grain JSB Exact RS dome. Ten averaged 287 f.p.s. with a 27 f.p.s. spread from 273 to 300 f.p.s. At the average velocity the RS pellet developed 1.34 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Trigger pull

The first stage takes 3 lbs. 2 oz. Stage two breaks at 5 lbs. 7.5 oz. Both stages feel two pounds lighter because of the trigger placement.

The grip

The pistol grip looks nice and rounded, but the heel of my shooting hand hits the bottom of the grip on the right side and it doesn’t feel as nice as it looks. It’s odd because a P08 Luger looks so similar and yet it feels so much better!

Cocking effort

A couple readers thought the top strap might be hard to lift up in the beginning, but it isn’t. Instead of an over-center cocking linkage geometry, all that holds the top strap down are two dimples in the metal on either side of the cocking lever, back by the breech.

Zenit breech detail
The breech is held closed by two dimples in the cocking lever — one on either side of the pistol. They fit into two depressions on an extension of the frame. They may push the barrel back ever-so-slightly but it’s hard to tell. It’s a simple arrangement and it works, but the breech will always leak a little.

The Zenit cocks with just 10 pounds of effort. And, since you use your thumb to press against the cocking lever while your hand pulls the lever up and forward, it feels like even less. This air pistol cocks easily.

Summary

Well, that’s it for today. The EM GE Zenit is a pleasant little air pistol. It’s easy to cock and has a nice trigger pull. I just hope that it’s also accurate.


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?


The Daisy 35: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Superdomes
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Hobby
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I test the Daisy 35 multi-pump with a dot sight. Will that sight make the airgun any more accurate? That’s the test. I mounted the UTG Reflex Micro green dot sight.

The test

I shot from the same 10 meters, rested. I used 8 pumps per shot, just as before. I tried to use the same pellets but I couldn’t find the tin of Norma Golden Trophy pellets, so I substituted RWS Superdomes in their place. I have been told that these Norma pellets are equivalent to the RWS line.

I shot 10-shot groups, just as before. The only difference today, other than the pellet substitution was the sight. And I wore my regular glasses — not the reading glasses I wear when  I shoot with open sights.

Sight-in

It was difficult to sight-in the 35. Any airgun that makes 2-inch groups at 10 meters is going to be difficult to sight in. I started at 10 feet and had to adjust the dot down and to the left a lot. When I got two shots that went to the same place I backed up to 20 feet and kept sighting-in. After two shots were good at that distance I backed up to 10 meters and continued the sight-in. 

All things considered, it took about 12 shots to get the gun sighted-in. Then I shot the first group of RWS Superdomes.

RWS Superdomes

It was a fortunate thing that I shot Superdomes today because they gave me the best group of the test. Ten of them went into 1.963-inches at 10 meters. The group is fairly well centered on the bull. It’s just off to the left a little.

Daisy 35 Superdome group
Ten RWS Superdomes went into 1.963-inches at 10 meters. This is the best group of today’s test.

JSB Exact RS

The next pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. In Part 3 ten of these made a 2.591-inch group. Today with the dot sight ten went into 3.326-inches. Well — that’s no better, is it? Apparently I can shoot just as well with open sights as with a dot — at least this time!

Daisy 35 JSB RS group
Ten JSB RS domes made this 3.326-inch group at 10 meters. The first shot was in the black near the center, which is why I continued with the group without adjusting the sight. Shot two is that large round hole at the upper left. It looks like it was shot with a wadcutter but I saw it form as I shot. This is why a gun that shoots wide is so hard to sight in.

RWS Hobby

The last pellet I shot was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. In Part 3 ten Hobbys made a 2.205-inch group. Today using the dot sight the 35 put ten Hobbys into 2.29-inches at 10 meters. It’s pretty much the same as the last time with open sights.

One thing about this group. It is so spread out that there are two sight-in shots that look like they are in the group. Well, they aren’t. If you look at the edges of their hole you can tell that they were shot with Superdomes that didn’t cut round holes. This group is similar to the group Hobbys made when I shot with open sights.

Daisy 35 Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys made a 2.29-inch group at 10 meters. The arrows point to two holes made by Superdomes during the sight-in. They aren’t part of this group.

Discussion

The tightest group shot with open sights in Part 3 of this test measures 2.181-inches between centers. The tightest group of today’s testing measures 1.963-inches between centers. Clearly the Daisy 35 does not become more accurate at 10 meters with a dot sight.

This may look like a short little test, but please remember that each one of those 30 pellet holes was preceeded by 8 pump strokes. Add to that the 12 sight-in shots and I had to pump this airgun 336 times for today’s test. It wasn’t short on my end! But thankfully the Daisy 35 is an easy airgun to pump.

Looking at the groups I see that this Daisy 35 will hit a tin can most of the time out to 30 feet, or so. That’s its strength. It sure isn’t a paper puncher!

Summary

There is one last thing to test and that is the accuracy of the airgun with BBs. Given that it is set to feed BBs with the magnetic bolt tip I don’t see any reason to test it with lead BBs. You can try to talk me out of that, but think about it. Is someone shooting a $35-40 airgun really going to spend $25 for 1,500 BBs?


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!


The EM GE Zenit air pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Zenit
The German EM-GE Zenit air pistol from before World War II is a fascinating collector’s item.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Grips
  • Cocking
  • Repeater
  • Barrel
  • Sights
  • Danger!
  • Direct sear
  • Power
  • Diana model IV
  • Summary

Today we begin looking at an air pistol with a rich portfolio of design features. The EM-GE Zenit is a pistol many airgunners have never seen, though there were copies made by Milbro under the Diana name, by the German maker Falke, by Swedish maker Stiga, by Italian maker Brema and even the Russians made a copy on what was probably the original Zenit machinery and tooling after they took over the EM-GE factory at the end of the war.

History

The EM GE Zenit is an overlever spring-piston air pistol made by Moritz and Gerstenberger of Zella Mehlis, Germany from about 1937 until 1940. Because of the short production period, it is a relatively rare air pistol that is desired by many collectors. And it has an interesting and potentially dangerous design flaw that makes shooting it something of a gamble. I will discuss this in detail later.

The pistol is made from wood and steel. The wood is walnut and the steel is highly polished and deeply blued. The pistol I am testing for you has most of the finish remaining, though rust has set in and needs to be treated. I will treat it with Ballistol that penetrates and neutralizes the rust.

Grips

Most Zenit (German for zenith) pistols have a one-piece walnut grip. There is a round brass escutcheon with the EM-GE logo on either side of this grip.  There is also a model with Geco grip escutcheons that was made for export to the United States.

A rare version was made with a  black bakelite grip. Bakelite is the world’s first synthetic plastic. While plastic parts are usually a cost control measure, this one may have been to save resources, as Germany was gearing up for war and needed wood for many items of materiel. This version has the logo cast directly into the grip, which is possible with plastic.

The plastic grip is very rare and was made before World War II. Some may have existed as new old stock for sale after the war, but this grip is definitely a prewar item.

Cocking

The pistol is cocked by lifting up on the overlever that lies on top of the spring tube and rocking it forward until the sear catches the piston. The barrel tips up when this happens and moves slightly forward, exposing the breech for loading. The leverage is odd but effective, rendering the Zenit very easy to cock for its power.

Zenit top strap
To cock the pistol, first raise the top strap that’s the cocking lever.

Zenit cocked
Then rock the top strap forward until the sear catches the piston.

Anti-beartrap

With the top strap up the trigger cannot fire the pistol. This is an anti-beartrap on an airgun from the 1930s!

Repeater

The Zenit is a single shot, loaded at the breech in the conventional way that a breakbarrel is loaded. But there is also a repeating model with a gravity-fed tubular magazine on top of the spring tube. The magazine aligns with the breech when the pistol is cocked and the barrel tips up. The pellets then slide down the magazine tube. It doesn’t sound too positive to me, but it’s so rare I will probably never get the opportunity to examine one.

Barrel

The outer barrel is steel but it has a brass liner. This liner may be smoothbored or rifled. The pistol I am examining for you is rifled, as noted by the abbreviation gez. for gezogen that’s stamped into the barrel.

Zenit barrel marks
The barrel is marked with the caliber and also gez. — the abbreviation for gezogen or rifled.

Zenit patent mark
A different-looking patent mark with no patent number.

Zenit name
The name is Zenit.

Zenit EM-GE markings
And the name of the maker.

Sights

The rear of the overlever is bent up and has a notch that serves as the rear sight.

Zenit EM-GE rear sight
The rear sight is cut into the end of the cocking lever.

The front sight has a thumbwheel jam nut on the right side that allows the post to be raised to varying heights. The higher you go the lower the round strikes. The blade can also be moved left or right a little by rotating the sight ring, which will adjust the windage.

Zenit front sight left
The front sight blade swings up to adjust the elevation.

Zenit front sight top down
Loosen the thumbscrew and rotate the front sight ring right or left for windage adjustment.

Danger!

The one design flaw is the end cap. It is threaded on the spring tube and held in place by a small hole in its bottom that accepts a protrusion from the bottom of the spring guide. If, while firing, this small protrusion jumps out of the hole in the end cap, the cap is free to unscrew and send the cap back into the shooter’s face with the force of the mainspring.

Zenit end cap
As long as you can see the stud through the end cap hole like this, the cap cannot unscrew and hit you in the face.

Direct sear

The trigger acts directly on the sear, which, in turn, locks the piston in the rearward position. I have tried the trigger several times and can tell you that it’s a two-stage design with a very light but positive stop at stage two. I can feel some movement in stage two, but the release is reasonably crisp. There is no provision for adjustment.

Power

I doubt the Zenit will be a powerful air pistol. It’s probably somewhere in the higher 200 f.p.s. region with lightweight lead pellets. But for its day it was at the zenith (pun intended) of performance. It was up against air pistols such as the Haenel 26 and 28, the BSF S20, and the Diana model V. The Zenit wasn’t the most powerful, but it packed more features than any of the others into a nice compact package.

Diana model IV

As I mentioned in the beginning, there were many copies of the Zenit, with the Russians just building the same gun on the same machinery after the wart. Milbro copied it and they came very close. Theirs lacked the rear sight on the cocking lever, as the lever was extended to the end of the pistol and folded over the end cap. That was one of several ways Milbro protected the shooter from the end cap springing back at their face. This pistol was called by numerous names including the Milbro Diana Model Mark IV, the Diana G4, the Milbro G4 (rifled) and the Milbro G4S (smoothbore). In the US this is one that you may see more often than any except the original Zenit.

Summary

We are looking at a strange and fascinating German air pistol from before World War II. This may not be a long series, but it should be an interesting one.

Velocity testing is next. What should I do?