Air Venturi Wing Shot Review

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is your first look at the new Air Venturi air shotgun by Sam Yang. This is a guest blog about the new Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun, written by Pyramyd Air’s Derek Goins.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Over to you, Derek.

 


The brand new Air Venturi Wing Shot – the first .50 caliber smoothbore air shotgun.

 This report covers:

  • Wing Shot Overview
  • Shot Shell Design
  • Patterns
  • Lethality
  • More Than Meets the Eye
  • Nits and Picks
  • Simple & Utilitarian
  • Check Before You Shoot

Introduction

In modern airgunning we don’t see many guns that surprise us anymore. There are rifles capable of hole in hole accuracy or killing animals as large as deer.  However, very rarely, a gun is born that can fill multiple roles. Combining utility, simplicity, and ultimate versatility is a tough task for any manufacturer.  But it’s not an air rifle I speak of, but instead a gun that airgunners have not seen in years; perhaps not at all!  I am excited and humbled to bring you the new  Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun!

Wing Shot Shotgun

Description

The Wing Shot is a sleek gun coming in at 43 inches from muzzle to butt, with a barrel length of 22 inches  The Sam Yang big bores (and this gun is produced for Air Venturi by Sam Yang), in general, have a look that grows on you; the Wing Shot breaks the ugly duckling mold with a very pointable gun that handles well. It’s fairly lean coming in at 7.3 lbs. and it swings like a shotgun should.  Bearing down the front brass bead is swift and natural. The length of pull is 13.5” allowing it to be comfortably used  by even smaller shooters.  The shotgun bears the same familiar knurled sleeve covered loading port and generously sized cocking handle.  The hardwood on the gun appears to be the same as the Sam Yang’s’ other air guns which is strong and well finished.  The forearm and pistol grip are graced with grippy checkering.

A feature that I’m very happy to see is the factory fitted male Foster quick connect fitting as the standard filling method.  I don’t know about y’all, but the less time I have to spend scrambling around for filling probes the better! The fill nipple comes standard with a snap-on cover to keep crud out.  The gun fills to a standard working pressure of 200 BAR and has easily readable manometer to monitor your remaining pressure.  A high-pressure SCBA or SCUBA tank is recommended for this compressed air gun, though you can use a hand pump in a pinch.

The factory installed male Foster quick connect fitting is a nice touch.

Shot Shell Design

The Wing Shot shotshell design is quite unique in that it uses a frangible plastic shell to house its shot.  The assembled shell is 0.75-inches long and holds around 110 grains of #6 shot, with the loading port being measured at just under an inch.  The round nose of the shell is scored with an X to help the shell break apart.  I think they look rather like shot pills than shotshells, but my mind is away with me again.  The idea is that when these pills are fired out of the barrel they’ll hit a certain speed or distance at which the nose would fragment away.  After this the remaining plastic base is acting like a conventional shot shell wad carrying the shot a bit further.  I imagine this was a maddening project to engineer as some shell designs might be rocketing plastic slugs, while others may break apart too early.

Shell Open with Shot       Shellandslug

The shot shells as seen empty (left image) and compared to a .50 cal slug (right image). 

The shells I had were already assembled, but I did have the ability to assemble shells myself.  From what I’m told both pre-filled shells and empty hulls will be available to the end user.  The customer will have an option of choosing between #6 and #8 shot sizes.  Typically the smaller the shot size the more you can stuff in a shell, since this puts more shot on target it’s perfect for shooting animals on the move or flying.  On the other hand larger shot size is more lethal on slower or stationary targets like squirrels because each piece carries more energy.  I filled the shells with my ultra precision Bic pen cap scoop, which consistently gave me loads of 110-112 grains of #6 shot.  Once the hull is filled then you simply push in the plastic base.  One side of the base is beveled to cup the lead while the bottom end is flat.

Let the Fun Begin! 

Loading the Wing Shot is a simple affair.  The knurled breech cover is sealed by two O-rings that provide a bit of tension. Slide the cover towards the muzzle to expose the chamber.  Pop the shell in the chamber and pull the cover closed. I also nudged my shells forward into the chamber a bit.  When I handle these guns I like to lightly oil those breech seals with plain air tool oil.  It keeps them from drying out and ripping, which can be a headache to replace.

To fire the Wing Shot you must first put the safety on “fire” to allow cocking.  It may be of some interest that this gun has two power levels.  When the shotgun cocking handle is pulled back you will hit a locking point about ¾ through the pull, which is low power.  Pulling the handle back a bit more will set it for full power.  The  power levels simply have to do with how hard the hammer hits the firing valve.  The low power setting is about 150-200 FPS off full power velocity.

The end user can expect 5 viable hunting shots, with the first 3 having the most oomph.  In my tests the 110 grain shot charge launched at 1,130 FPS, with the 5th shot ending at 1028 FPS.  If you surpass the 5 shot mark the gun will quickly start to drop velocity.  On low power it would be reasonable to expect around 8 great shots.

Patterns Upon Patterns!

For a shotgun to pattern successfully quite a few variables have to fall in place.  If the pattern is too wide the BBs lose lethality; too tight and you’ll have a tougher time hitting moving targets.  Fortunately the Wing Shot is fitted with a removable choke that utilizes the barrel thread for attachment.  I don’t know at this time if there will be additional chokes available but the standard choke was perfect for up to 25 yards.   At 15 yards the pattern is around 9;” at 10 yards it reduced to 6”.  I also experimented with some low power patterning to see if a more gentle air blast would hold a tighter pattern, but found that the pattern size stayed the same with the point of impact dropping slightly at 15 yards, compared to full power.

10-yards      15ydsFullPWR      Lowpwr15yds

Shot groupings above: 10 yards at full power (left image); 15 yards at full power (center image); 15 yards at lower power (right image).

Lethality

All results the on paper were great, but it’s a shotgun and I really wanted to stretch her legs.  The lethality of the gun was one of my biggest concerns, and I threw all I had at it.  Fresh fruit, cardboard, rolling pellet tins, airborne pellet tins and ballistic putty were all blasted in the name of science and research.  What I have found is that the Wing Shot is perfectly lethal up to 20-25 yards for most pest bird species, after that the pattern opens up too much to be humane.  Within this recommended range, the gun performs beautifully and sent all my targets flying in a most impressive way.  The penetration of the lead shot made a believer out of me.  The shotgun didn’t have any problem with shredding thin steel cans or making fruit salad  I truly appreciated how easily and naturally the shotgun swung from targets, you can immediately tell that it’s not a refitted big bore, but a purpose-designed gun.  It should be noted that wing shooting animals will require some adjusted lead times in comparison to powder burning shotguns. I look forward to a time that I can take this gun out for an actual field test.

More than Meets the Eye

In this age of airgunning we want more for our money and the Wing Shot delivers with pure utility.  The shotgun’s .50 caliber smoothbore barrel can also utilize cast or swaged lead slugs, turning the starling-slayer into a short range medium-game gun.  I will emphasize that the barrel does NOT have rifling so we will not see the same accuracy that we would from a rifle.  I admit that I was hopeful, at best, that the slugs would group well.  At 25 yards I knelt behind the bench and aligned the bead with the target and fired three 336-grain flat nose .50 caliber bullets, which to my surprise produced in a tidy 2” group.  The power is well on point with 185 grain round nose producing 800 FPS for the first shot.  Shot 5 finished at 685 FPS.  If you have never fired a big bore air gun the recoil tends to increase as your bullet weight does due to backpressure, though even with the fat 336-grainers the recoil is a gentle push.  I tried groups at 40 yards as well and produced reasonable results.  It should be noted, however, that the impacts of slugs do not correlate well to the brass bead sight. If you plan to shoot slugs often I would recommend an optic, but the bead works beautifully for shot shells.  The Wing Shot does not come with a dovetail, though looking closely at the gun it appears that the standard Sam Yang rifle rail can be affixed with two receiver screws.

25ydSlugs       40ydslugs

Even at 25 and 40 yards, my shot groupings were reasonable with .50 caliber slugs.

With responsible and ethical shot placement this gun will be capable of taking coyotes and deer at short ranges, you will just need to have realistic range expectations when using bullets.  I also tried .50 caliber round balls with dismal accuracy results.  While round balls can be cheap to shoot, the design of the projectile is rather poor.  The ball does not seal well in the barrel, allowing usable air to blow by — effectively wasting it.  There is also the fact that the design loses velocity rather quickly because of a low ballistic coefficient.  Stick with cast bullets and I guarantee you will achieve better accuracy and terminal ballistics.

Nits and Picks

No gun is perfect, and I feel obligated to share two gripes that I had with the Wing Shot.  First, I would love to see a second brass bead closer to the breech.  This would allow for a more consistent sight alignment, which I’d find useful for a gun that doesn’t utilize a ton of shot.  My only other gripe is that I wish the loading port was milled longer so the user could utilize longer and more potent shotshells. Perhaps in the future we’ll see a Wing Shot Magnum with 2” shells!  Though the shotgun performs admirably, these are two things worth mentioning.

Simple and Utilitarian

I can say with utmost certainty that the Wing Shot will be perfect for those folks that like to tinker and experiment with different shot loads and slug weights.  I found myself running around happily testing one thing or another. The gun is simply a hoot to shoot, it’s a certain kind of fun that most of us have forgotten in our pursuit for accuracy and power.  There are a few guns out there that still make you smile when you shoot them; often they are guns that we started the sport with.  The everlasting Benjamin 392/397, a well kept FWB 124, for me personally; a RWS 94 that cemented a love for air guns and hunting within me.  The Wing Shot makes me grin ear to ear when targets dance under shotshell persuasion and the simplicity of its design is delightful.  The Wing Shot delivers everything it promises as a shotgun, and performs equally well within reasonable ranges as a slug gun.  It fills the utility niche, which has been screaming for a flagship, like no other gun before it.

Check Before You Shoot

On a closing note it is important to mention that since this is the first production air shotgun, hunting legislation may not be written for it yet.  While I can easily recommend this gun for wing shooting pest birds and taking medium-game with slugs, it is your responsibility to check local game laws before squeezing the trigger.  I generally like to call the Game Warden (Wildlife Officer depending on state) to get the current information on game laws.  Game Wardens are more than happy to help and appreciate a hunter taking the responsible route and checking first. They will often turn you onto some great hunting spots.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Air Venturi Wing Shot and it’s left an impression of quality and utility that I can stand behind.  I am absolutely thrilled for the future of this gun. Perhaps, dear readers, we can convince the powers that be to send this old boy on a pest bird shotgun hunt!  Stay safe and happy shooting.

Semper Fidelis,

Derek Goins

derek-wing-shot

Editor’s note: See Jim Champan’s American Airgunner video on this special air shotgun!


Air shotguns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • History
  • What an air shotgun has to do to succeed
  • The second key to success
  • Mainstream hunters
  • Below the standard
  • The Orient
  • Yewha BBB Dynamite
  • Fire 201
  • Gamo Viper Express air shotgun
  • Air shotguns today

Air shotguns are a subject that keeps bubbling to the top every few years. With the recent interest in big bore airguns, its time has probably come, again. In today’s report, I want to tell you what has been done in this arena over the past 500 years and also what’s needed to make an air shotgun viable.

History

Air shotguns date back to the beginning of airguns, some time in the middle 16th century. All guns at that time were smoothbore, so not a lot of thought was paid to whether they shot a single projectile or many projectiles. For birds that flew, many projectiles were necessary, although this was before people shot at flying birds.

Today we only think of shooting birds in flight. But as late as the late 19th century, market hunters (those harvesting game to sell for a living) were still shooting ducks, geese and swans by the dozens and even the hundreds in flocks as they floated on the water. Shooting birds on their roosts in trees was also considered proper until very late in the 19th century. The limitations of flintlock shotguns made such shooting a necessity.

During these same periods, airguns were all very large caliber. It was considered normal for a fine English-made airgun to come in a leather case with both a rifled barrel and a smoothbore shotgun barrel. But these airguns, as finely made as they were, were not as powerful as the firearms of their day. If we compare antique air rifles to antique firearm rifles of the same period, the difference doesn’t seem so great; but when we look at air shotguns, we see they lack something that firearms of the same period all had — velocity.

“Shooting flying” was the term used for downing birds in flight. Once percussion gun locks became reliable, the sport of shooting birds on the wing took off and never looked back. But the air shotguns could not compete with their firearm cousins, because, by comparison, they shot only half as fast. And, that’s one of the 2 major problems that have plagued air shotguns from around 1830 until the present day.

What an air shotgun has to do to succeed

My late friend, Mac, was very comfortable shooting shotguns. We talked all the time about what an air shotgun would need to do to be successful. It was Mac’s opinion that an air shotgun needed to shoot its shot at a minimum of 1,000 f.p.s. to be accepted by shotgunners. He told me that even lower-velocity shotgun loads are going out at around 1,150 f.p.s., these days, and most competitive rounds for Sporting Clays and Trap are leaving the muzzle at 1,300 f.p.s. In fact, today’s shells are so regular that shotgunners are basing their swing speed on that velocity. Hand a world champion skeet shooter a shotgun shell that travels only 800 f.p.s., and you’ll see him miss his target every time. Their shot columns will be behind the targets in flight. I’m not aware of any modern air shotgun capable of reaching even 800 f.p.s. with a respectable load of shot, which I’ll now discuss.

The second key to success

Besides velocity, the amount of shot in the charge has to be meaningful. Mac and I went around and around on that subject, until we realized the decision had already been made for us. Those who shoot the .410 shotgun fire a lower-velocity shell that contains 1/2 oz. of shot. One-half ounce equates to 219 grains. The size of the shot in the charge doesn’t matter; although, if it’s only a half-ounce, you’ll need a smaller shot size to give you enough shot. Maybe No. 7-1/2 or No. 8 shot is appropriate in such a shell. After all, you aren’t shooting geese at 60 yards with a .410!

So, the ideal air shotgun has to fire a half-ounce shot charge at 1,000 f.p.s. That is, if the folks who make the air shotguns want them to appeal to mainstream hunters.

Mainstream hunters

Let’s be honest. Most hunters who use shotguns today don’t shoot lower-velocity .410s with a half-ounce of shot. The trend is toward the 3-inch and even the 3-1/2-inch shell, which holds 1-1/8 oz. to 1-1/2 oz. of shot, depending on the gauge. While I am at it, let’s all understand that shot fired from a 28-gauge shotgun hits an animal just as hard as shot fired from a 12-gauge shotgun. The difference is the amount of shot you can get into the charge; and to a shotgun hunter, more shot is always better. The larger gauges (which means the smaller numbers — 12 gauge is larger than 20 gauge) hold more shot.

When a shotgun fires, the shot charge that’s been bunched up into 1/2-inch inside the shell spreads out to 12-20 feet long as it flies through the air. It also starts to spread apart in an ever-growing circle. A fast-flying bird may miss most of the shot in the column because of this. Even though your shot pattern looks good on paper, not all of the shot got there at the same time, and you may miss your target because of it. Shotgunners learn this lesson very quickly, so they point their shotgun barrels ahead of their targets, ensuring that the birds fly into the fast-moving shot column at exactly the right time. When you watch a clay pigeon break into 3 pieces in the air, it’s being hit by one or two shot at the edge of a shot column. When the entire column hits it, the pigeon explodes in a puff of black smoke or dust. That’s called dusting the targets. That’s what shotgunners want to do to birds.

Below the standard

Now you should understand why air shotguns have never really succeeded. They fire their shot far too slowly to hit the target with a normal swing, and many of them shoot way too little shot in a charge. Only one air shotgun I’ve ever tested shoots faster than 1,000 f.p.s. That was the Fire 201 air shotgun. Unfortunately, it was only a .25-caliber airgun and could shoot only a very small charge of shot. The velocity was barely okay, but the amount of shot was substandard. And remember, we’re calling a lower-velocity .410 shotgun shell with a half-ounce of shot the standard.

The other air shotguns that have existed (and some still do) have had an adequate shot charge, but they fired it far too slow. The Paul air shotguns of the 1920s and the Vincent (1940-1955) had larger bores of .410 caliber. But they were too slow — at 450-550 f.p.s. The Crosman Trapmaster 1100 was .380 caliber and was both too slow (450-550 f.p.s.) and also had a shot charge that was too small.

Paul air shotgun
Paul air shotgun was a multi-pump pneumatic.

Paul shotshell
Shells for the Paul were sheet metal with cork wads on both ends of the shot charge.

Vincent air shotgun
Vincent air shotgun was also a multi-pump.

Crosman Trapmaster 1100
Crosman’s Trapmaster 1100 was powered  by CO2. It was .380 caliber and featured 2 power settings.

The Orient

When the Philippine population had their guns taken away in 1972 by the Marcos regime, air shotguns suddenly became an important item for subsistence hunters. The Farco air shotgun is the best brand known in the U.S., although there are many others we don’t see that often. Farcos caught American airgunners by surprise in the 1990s, when they were heavily promoted by Air Rifle Specialists of New York. The ARS owner, Davis Schwesinger, even shot a small boar with one, and suddenly Americans had to have a Farco — including yours truly.

Farco air shotgun
Farco air shotgun.

The Farco is a 28-gauge shotgun powered by CO2 that’s bulk-filled into the gun’s long reservoir. The shot charge can weigh nearly a half ounce, but the resulting velocity is pitiful — barely 450 f.p.s. It was more of a gun we owned for bragging rights than for serious hunting, though there were a few stalwarts who did use it seriously.

It’s been reported that some Philippine hunters used arrows with dynamite torpedoes on their ends to kill animals as large as water buffalo with the Farco. I don’t know how true those stories are, but I do know that the Farco was used successfully for bowfishing.

But the Farco is a subsistence gun — not a sporting gun. Birds are not shot on the wing; they’re shot on the roost or floating on the water. The hunters who use a gun like the Farco are living by the same laws that existed in the United States until the late 19th century.

Yewha BBB Dynamite

The Yewha BBB Dynamite was never officially imported into the U.S. Many were brought in as samples, even by the Beeman company, which considered carrying them but never did. The samples were sold, which is why some folks think Beeman used to carry the Yewha. Although they put it in some catalogs, it was never a stock item.

Yewha air shotgun Yewha 3B Dynamite.

The Yewha was a .25-caliber multi-pump air shotgun that had a front-pump rod with a foot rest. The shooter stood on the foot rest and pumped the gun up and down up to 150 times for a full charge. After that, the gun could be topped off with 10-20 pumps after every shot.

The gun was made in Korea, where firearms are nearly impossible to own. The Koreans love to hunt, which is why so many powerful air rifles come from that country. The Yewha was also a subsistence gun, firing a pitifully small charge of shot at a respectable 1,000 f.p.s., or nearly so. Beeman sold a total of 350 of the guns; but as I noted, they never stocked it as a regular product in their line. Dr. Beeman was interested in the design of the gun, but he knew that not many customers would be willing to pump for such a long time. Since then, many Yewhas in the U.S. have been converted to precharged operations that shooters are more accustomed to.

Fire 201

I mentioned the Shinsung Fire 201 — also from Korea. It was a .25-caliber precharged gun that shot a minuscule charge of shot at just over 1,000 f.p.s. I owned one of them and tested it extensively for my newsletter, The Airgun Letter.

Fire 201
Fire 201 air shotgun was a .25 caliber that had good velocity, but the shot charge was too small.

Like most air shotguns, the shot was loaded into a hollow shell that was plugged at bother ends. I found that cleaning pellets were perfect for the job.

Fire 201 shotshell
The Fire 201 shotshell is filled with shot and plugged at either end with a felt cleaning pellet.

Like all the other air shotguns mentioned in this report, the Fire 201 was for subsistence and as a novelty, only. Although it shot fast enough, the shot charge was far too small to have any affect. The only interesting thing about the gun is it was later rebarreled with a 9mm rifled barrel to become the first Korean big bore. While the Shinsung 9mm rifle is no longer available, it was very similar to the Recluse that’s still being sold.

Gamo Viper Express air shotgun

Gamo calls their .22-caliber Gamo Viper Express air shotgun an air rifle, too, but it clearly isn’t. It has a smooth bore, and to be a rifle it needs to have rifling in the barrel. Some people not familiar with firearms call any long gun a rifle because they don’t know the terminology. But rifles have rifled barrels, and if they have smooth bores they are properly called guns.

The Viper Express is a novelty gun, only. It’s not suited to either subsistence or to sport; though if you get very close to your quarry, you might get lucky and hit something with a pellet. I tested this one for you back in 2006.

Gamo Viper Express
Gamo Viper Express is a spring-piston air shotgun.

The Viper Express is something airgunners have told me they really want — a spring-piston air shotgun! It handles really well and looks like a 28-gauge shotgun, but it lacks velocity and shot capacity — both critical items for an air shotgun.

Air shotguns today

The current interest in big bore airguns is spawning a resurgence of air shotguns. I’ve seen and shot several prototypes, including one that is based on an AirForce Escape survival rifle. That one is a .410 that does launch a half-ounce of shot, but only at 600 f.p.s.

Until an air shotgun can launch at least a half ounce of shot at 1,000 f.p.s., they’ll remain novelties and subsistence guns. I hope I’ve explained why this is the case. They do hold interest and fascination for some shooters, but that fascination is based more on what people think an air shotgun ought to be rather than what they actually are.

My gut feeling is that someone has already invented an air shotgun that meets the minimum requirements, or they will pretty soon. When that happens, air shotguns will transition from the novelty class into the true sporting shotgun class. That should open the market for them.