Browning 800 Mag – Part 6

Browning 800 Mag – Part 6

by B.B. Pelletier
Photos and testing by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Today, we’ll test the Browning’s accuracy.

Well! A surprising finish to the comprehensive test of the .22-caliber Browning 800 Mag pistol. Surprising because of the strong finish the pistol made in Mac’s capable hands. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s reel it back to the start of the accuracy test.

In part 5, Mac had tested the velocities of three pellets — RWS Superdomes, RWS Hobbys and Crosman Premiers. Now, it’s time to test all three for accuracy.

RWS Superdome
If I were a skilled storyteller, I wouldn’t put RWS Superdomes first in the report, but it was the first pellet Mac tried in the gun. I wouldn’t put it first because it turned out to be the most accurate pellet by an enormous margin. Sometimes, things happen that way, but you don’t know it for sure until you complete the test.

At 10 meters, 10 shots ripped through a group measuring just 1.38″ across the widest two shots. That’s with TEN shots at ten meters! With accuracy on that order, a fellow could draw down on a crow at 20 yards and expect to connect where he aimed. We already know the gun has the power to do the job. A six o’clock hold netted a point of impact at 12 o’clock on the 10m pistol bull. Sight correction would, therefore, be in order.

The best results of the test. Ten pellets in 1.38″ at ten meters.

With the best pellet, the Browning 800 Mag is a valid hunting air pistol for small game at close range — provided you’re shooting RWS Superdomes or another pellet of equal accuracy.

All this buildup is necessary because of how the gun performed with the other two pellets. So, let’s move on to Hobbys.

RWS Hobby
At just 11.9 grains, the .22 caliber RWS Hobby pellet was the fastest of the three tested. But it wasn’t that much faster than the Superdome (536 to 502), and it developed less muzzle energy (7.59 to 8.12). So, unless it shines in accuracy, it’s not a pellet to consider.

And shine it did not. Ten pellets went into a group measuring 2.08″ at 10 meters. We know from the Superdome results that Mac can shoot, so the Hobby has to be rated as mediocre, at best.

Ten Hobbys scattered out to 2.08″.

That left but one pellet to test. The Crosman Premier.

Crosman Premier
In the velocity test, the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet showed wild velocity swings. Mac determined that was due to the pellet being too small for the gun’s bore. One pellet even fell out as he was closing the barrel after loading. That was significant, because the 800 Mag barrel has a very strong detent that requires a swift and deliberate closure. What a setup for possible dry-fires.

But the group measured 3.08″ — an inch larger than Hobbys. Now, 8 of the 10 shots did cluster in a much tighter group, but with the wild velocity swings and possibility for dry-fires, I think the Premier may not be best for the big Browning — at least in .22 caliber.

A tight cluster of eight Premiers, with two wild shots that opened the group to 3.08″. Mac assured me they were not called flyers.

The bottom line of the big Browning is that this is a powerful and accurate spring-piston air pistol. It clearly surpasses the Beeman P1 for power, and delivers the shots to the POA if you do your part.

Browning 800 Mag – Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier
Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Now it’s time to test the big Browning in .22.

It’s been a while since we looked at this pistol, but I knew we had to test it in .22 because of the power potential.

In .177, I topped 800 fps with the big Browning. Normally, a spring gun in .22 caliber will be up to 20% more efficient than the same gun in .177. That would not mean greater velocity in .22, but it would mean more muzzle energy. Today’s test will determine if that relationship holds true.

This time, Mac tested the gun and was just as impressed with the cocking effort as I was. All of these numbers were gathered by him.

RWS Hobbys
RWS Hobbys were the lightest pellets tested. They averaged 536 fps and ranged from 526 to 546. That’s a max spread of 20 fps. While the number 536 doesn’t sound that high, please remember that this is a .22 caliber spring-piston pistol, not a .177. The 11.9-grain Hobby pellet produced an average energy of 7.59 ft-lbs.

RWS Superdomes
I wanted to test the gun with larger lead pellets, because I thought they would seal better, so I asked Mac to try RWS Superdomes. At 14.5 grains, these are much heavier than Hobbys. They produce an average velocity of 502 fps. The spread was from 496 to 507. That’s only 11 fps and a really tight spread for a new spring pistol. Average muzzle energy works out to 8.12 ft-lbs.

Crosman Premiers
I asked Mac to try Crosman Premiers because they’re so standard among .22 cal. pellets. Many shooters have them and use them, and they’re often among the best pellets for a spring gun…but not for the Browning 800 Mag. The average velocity was 441 fps and ranged from 391 to 462. That 71 fps spread is a clear indication that the Premier is not suited to this gun. Mac also told me that they loaded loosely, and I have to assume they’re much too small for the bore of the gun. Plus, there isn’t enough air pressure to force the skirt out into the rifling. In one case, the pellet actually fell out while Mac was cocking the gun. The average muzzle energy works out to 6.18 ft-lbs.

The big Browning takes a lot of effort to cock. This detachable muzzlebrake slips on and adds several inches of leverage.

Looking up into the pistol’s mechanism, we see the mainspring and the sledge anti-recoil mechanism. It’s possible to see this flex about a quarter inch when cocking the barrel.

More energy?
The .22 caliber pistol is slightly more powerful than the .177. That the two are so close indicates that the powerplant favors the smaller caliber. However, this is still a ver powerful .22 caliber air pistol.

I will return with the results of a accuracy tests, so you’ll have everything you need to make a choice between the calibers.