BSA Meteor: Part 9

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

BSA Super Meteor
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.

This report covers:

• What we’ve learned so far
• Mounting the Tasco Pro-Point dot sight
• 10-meter accuracy RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Match Diabolo pellets
• H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
• RWS R 10 Pistol pellets
• The Meteor is good

What we’ve learned so far
I began the review of the BSA Super Meteor in October 2013 — almost a year ago. I acquired the rifle at the Roanoke airgun show (and, no, I don’t know whether or not it will be held again this year) from Don Raitzer, because I’d always wanted to review the rifle. I commented that Meteors had always looked like cheap airguns to me; but after researching them, I discovered they went through the transition period when BSA went from being a world leader in airguns, through several attempts to make their guns less expensive to build and eventually to the point where the company was bought by Gamo.

So, Meteors exist in numerous variations, with Marks I and II being considered the best, and the cheapening started with the Mark III. My Super Meteor is a Mark IV and well down the road from the top quality they enjoyed at their height. But it still does show a lot of innovation in the design. I showed you all of that in the early parts of this report, as I rebuilt the powerplant and crowned the muzzle.

I got the velocity back up to standards, but for some reason the accuracy was never there. I lamented over this in the last few reviews, but it wasn’t until the final part — Part 8 — that I discovered what might have been the problem. And then I guess I must have burned out, because I didn’t return to the rifle until today.

It was Monday’s look at the BSA Scorpion that caused me to look back at the reviews of the Meteor. That was where I discovered that I’d intended to try the rifle with a scope or dot sight but never did. Until today.

What I discovered is that the Meteor’s rear sight is loose and tends to move when the rifle’s shot. I wondered if an optical sight that stayed put might correct any sighting problems and let the rifle reach its true potential. Today, you’ll see what that is, and you can use the links to the earlier parts, above, to see the contrast between the accuracy with open sights and the dot sight I chose for today’s test.

Mounting the Tasco Pro Point dot sight
I mounted a 30mm Tasco Pro Point red dot sight that I’ve used in other tests. Mine is vintage and not at all like today’s Tasco Pro Point. I would have used the Tech Force 90 dot sight, but that one’s being used on another rifle we’ll get to very soon.

Meteor with Tasco mounted
I mounted a vintage Tasco Pro Point dot sight on the BSA Meteor.

Once mounted, the dot sight was very easy to sight-in for 10 meters. I saw tighter groupings at my 12-foot sight-in distance and began to hope I’d solved the problem. Let’s now see how well the rifle did.

10-meter accuracy RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby that had done best in the previous tests with open sights. Right away, there was a dramatic difference. Ten Hobbys now went into 1.033 inches, where they’d only previously made a best group that measured 1.361 inches with open sights. But inside the big group, 8 shots were in a tight cluster measuring 0.437 inches! This is what I was expecting from the Meteor all along!

RWS Hobby group
Maybe not the tightest 10-meter group, but 8 of these Hobbys went into 0.437 inches, giving me hope for the rifle.

JSB Match Diabolo pellets
Because no other pellet had done as well as Hobbys in previous testing, I decided to change my choices and concentrate on several target pellets. Next up was JSB Match Diabolo wadcutters. Ten of them went into 0.681 inches — with no fliers. Now we’re getting some results!

JSB Match wadcutter group
Now we’re talking! Ten JSB Match pellets made this 0.618-inch group at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. This one proved to be the most accurate of this test. Ten went into a 10-meter group that measures 0.456 inches between centers.

H&N Finale Match Pistol group
Ten H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets made this best group of the day. It measures 0.456 inches between centers.

RWS R 10 Pistol pellets
The last pellet I tested was the RWS R 10 Pistol pellet. This is another lightweight wadcutter that’s often the most accurate in some airguns. Before shooting this pellet, I adjusted the dot sight 5 clicks to the right and 5 clicks down. Unlike scopes, dot sights don’t seem to have the same problem with stiction (the reticle not moving after adjustment until the gun is fired several times). The dot moves with the adjustments and doesn’t have to be bumped or vibrated into its new position by firing the gun. (If you’d like to read more about stiction, go to this blog on scope basics and scroll down to the Stiction subhead.)

Ten R 10s then went into 0.588 inches at 10 meters. This is the second-best group of this test, and it underscores the Meteor’s accuracy potential very well.

RWS R10 Pistol group
Ten RWS R 10 Pistol pellets went into 0.588 inches at 10-meters. The second-best group of the day.

The Meteor is good
When I began this series, I’d hoped to discover why so many shooters have a love affair with the Meteor. For many years I had thought it was a cheap-looking little rifle, but that was before I found out about all the changes over the years of production. Apparently, there are Meteors — and then there are Meteors; and it really makes a difference which variation you have. Also, in this instance, I started with what was essentially a junker.

It was an uphill battle because I had to rebuild my rifle, which included several major repairs like spot-welding the piston body and crowning the recessed muzzle (see Part 4). I have to thank my buddy Otho for the hard work he put into this project. He’s the one who spot-welded the piston body and made the tool bit I used to crown the recessed muzzle (Part 8).

The action forks that were very loose when I got the rifle, and I had to tighten. This involved putting the forks into a vise and tightening the jaws to squeeze the forks together (Part 4). Assembly after this operation was a chore, but I got it done. This is where a pivot bolt comes in very handy, but the Meteor doesn’t have one — just a plain pin.

I’d hoped the Meteor might perform like a Diana 27, but it doesn’t. The Meteor is its own air rifle — very abrupt during the firing cycle — while the Diana is smooth. And the trigger, while adjustable, can never be as light and crisp as the Diana’s ball-bearing sear. But don’t hold that against the rifle. The Meteor is its own airgun, not a copy of anything else.

And it can shoot — as today’s test demonstrates. I thought I might have to choke the barrel to get accuracy from the rifle, but it turned out the sights were the problem all along.

Doing this series has been educational and exasperating at times, but I learned a lot and got inspiration for many more blogs about vintage airguns.


Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Today’s report is the final part of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. He tells us about the various pellets he tested and gives their results.

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

Over to you, HiveSeeker.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle
Daisy’s Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle. The gun is shown here with added Leapers UTG 3-9×32 Bug Buster scope and AR-15 rubber recoil pad.

This report covers:

• Scope notes
• More pellet testing
• I know there’s something going on
• The Winchester trio
• RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• H&N Match Pistol pellets
• The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
• Retesting the best
• Conclusion
• Other military pellet rifles to consider

In Part 2, I found five pellets that would group 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or better with the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle at 10 yards (Crosman Destroyer pellets, Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (sold only in discount stores), Crosman Premier Hollowpoint pellets, H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets, and Air Arms Falcon pellets). This was about as good as I expected based on my research before purchasing this gun. However, I’d hoped that I could do better, and most of the reader comments on this blog expressed even greater concern with the mediocre accuracy of this gun than with the ammo feed problem. I’m pleased to report some slightly better news.

Scope notes
But first, I made a minor modification to my scope setup. I mentioned the trouble two other shooters had sighting through the Leapers UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster scope I mounted on this rifle. I had positioned the scope for my own eye relief, and eye placement proved to be a lot more critical for this compact scope than it is with my full-sized Leapers UTG 4-16X40.

However, at least part of the difficulty they experienced may have been due to a fairly low Picatinny rail on this rifle. When the included factory scope rings loosened after 300 shots, I decided to try a different style mount and also decided to go with high-profile rings. I was surprised at how much easier it became to sight through the scope — especially since I would have thought I wasn’t having any real difficulty before. For most shooters, I believe high-profile scope rings will be the way to go on this rifle. With my new scope setup, I was ready for some final accuracy testing.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle High Scope Mount
High-profile scope rings makes it a little bit easier to sight through the UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster scope on the MP4’s low Picatinny rail.

One minor note here. On Picatinny rails there’s usually a little play in the scope mounts within the individual recoil grooves, and I usually slide both my mounts forward until they contact the forward stops and then snug them up right there. This is the direction the laws of inertia demand that the scope and mounts will want to go in relation to a rifle recoiling backwards beneath them (especially pneumatic or CO2 guns with simpler recoil than a springer). If the mounts are already braced against the forward stops, then there’s less chance for them to slip. However, on the Winchester MP4, I believe the semi-auto bolt re-cocking generates some recoil in the opposite direction — this may have actually loosened my initial scope installation. This time, I braced both scope mounts against the rear stops, and they seem to be holding fast, so far. I don’t have the equipment to verify this recoil theory, but it’s something to try if you run into a similar problem.

[Editor’s note: While Picatinny rails and Weaver rails both have cross slots to stop the rings from moving, Weaver slots are 3.5mm wide and Picatinny slots are 5mm wide. That’s the reason for the extra slop when Weaver rings are installed on Picatinny bases. And, for airguns, the pins should touch the rear of the slots.]

More pellet testing
I continued testing with seven new pellets, shooting 10-shot, 10-yard groups outdoors from a benchrest. I shot three groups with each pellet, and reported the best of three below. With my original accuracy testing, all the pellets I tried grouped about 1 inch, give or take a little. However, this time, the groups were generally tighter — even with pellets I’d previously tested. I believe this barrel may have a break-in period — roughly 500 shots by my estimation — and is now smoothed out a little. For this test, I used digital calipers to provide more exact group measurements — though, even with my sharp eyesight and a science background, you can take that third decimal place with a grain of salt!

I know there’s something going on
There definitely seems to be something going on between the number of pellets in the rotary cylinder and accuracy. I’d already mentioned that the last two shots of my 10-shot groups, involving a magazine swap, often opened up the final grouping. Remember that the ammo mag has 8-round cylinders, so finishing off a 10-round group required switching to a cylinder with only the two final pellets loaded. I could blame the repositioning of the rifle between magazine swaps, except that this is not a problem I’ve had with rifles that require pumping or cocking and get repositioned with every shot. This time, I kept specific track of when my final two shots opened up a group, with the results illustrated below.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Last 2 Shots
You can see how the final two shots (circled) opened up each of these 10-shot groups. Left-to-right are Crosman Premier Super Match pellets, RWS Hobby pellets, and Air Arms Falcon pellets.

This batch of testing also confirmed something else I thought I’d noticed before — groups often started off very small, then opened up as I emptied the magazine. Obviously, shooting more pellets will continue to open up a grouping. What I’m saying is that shot 10 was much more likely to miss the bullseye than shot 1, rather than having a similar probability of hitting or missing it. With this semiauto, I could lock myself into a rested shooting position and do nothing but breathe and squeeze the trigger for 8 shots. Barely moving, my aim and hold were rock solid. However, I almost felt like a spectator at times as I watched pellet strikes begin to roam wider and wider around my point of aim. I believe this is the same phenomenon I observed with my final two shots of each group. My best guess is that adjacent pellets in the magazine cylinder help reduce some CO2 blow-by, or that a full magazine cylinder does not shift or flex during firing as much as an empty one.


Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle target

On the left, the first three shots with Beeman coated hollowpoint pellets go into 0.261 inches, center-to-center. Keeping my fingers crossed at this point! But the fourth shot (circled) opens this group up a bit more to 0.323 inches. Six increasingly scattered shots later, the final group on the right is now even broader at 0.682 inches (that fourth shot is circled on this target as a reference point). This pattern was observed repeatedly. This was not the best example I saw. It was just the one I interrupted to photograph.

The Winchester trio
Since this is a Winchester air rifle, I felt duty-bound to put the Winchester pellets through their paces. While they were the poorest performers of all the new pellets, their best groups were all still 1 inch or less: Winchester hollowpoint pellets (0.826 inches, center-to-center), Winchester pointed pellets (0.859 inches), and Winchester round nose pellets (1.000 inches exactly). As mentioned, the Winchester hollowpoints extended past the front of the rotary cylinder when fully seated and had to be pushed back in slightly before shooting. However, they caused no jams or other firing problems.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Winchester Hollow Point
The Winchester hollowpoints extend past the front edge of the rotary cylinder when fully seated.

RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
The RWS Diabolo Basic pellets yielded the next largest group of the bunch, with its best-of-three at 0.791 inches. This pellet also produced the largest group that I observed during this second round of testing — 1.324 inches.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle RWS Diabolo Basic
Ten RWS Diabolo Basic pellets grouped inside 0.791 inches –close to the best that was seen in the first round of accuracy tests.

RWS Hobby pellets
The RWS Hobby’s smallest group measured 0.644 inches. This was the best group I’d seen from this gun so far. It’s approaching the as-of-yet elusive half-inch mark, but not quite there.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle RWS Hobby
Ten RWS Hobby pellets in 0.644 inches — easily my best group up to this point.

H&N Match Pistol pellets
I’d tested the more expensive H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets last time, but then I read about H&N Match Pistol pellets actually outperforming the Finales in another gun I own. That’s why I ended up with a tin of these to try. At 0.716 inches, they grouped slightly better than the Finales (even with retesting, as you’ll see in a minute) in this gun, too.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle H&N Match Pistol
The H&N Match Pistol pellet, at 0.716 inches for 10, outperformed both previous and repeated testing of the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets.

The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
Okay, I’ll concede right up front that half-inch groups at 10 meters aren’t all that magical in today’s airgunning world. However, with a review quoting Daisy Customer Service as stating that MP4 owners should expect 1-1/2 inch groups at 10 meters, and with no measured groups under 1 inch reported by anybody, I was pleased to finally break the half-inch barrier with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets.

I did not have high hopes for what is literally the cheapest pellet I tested. However, a single Pyramyd Air review mentioned it performed well (thank you, DaveTee!); and, for under five dollars a tin, it went into the shopping cart. I shot this pellet last, and it surprised me. My three test groups yielded 0.682 inches, 0.386 inches and 0.442 inches. At the eleventh hour, I’d finally found a pellet that could shoot under half an inch. While one thing that became clear during accuracy testing is that my rifle does not perform the same with specific pellets as other’s MP4s, the Beeman hollowpoint coated is definitely one to try for anyone who owns an MP4, especially at this price point.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Beeman HP Coated
Thar she blows — these two groups shot with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets clock in at under half an inch, at 0.386 and 0.442 inches, left to right. (Yes, the pellets are black.) Summer sun heating the barrel on one side caused the point-of-impact shift that can be seen here.

Retesting the best
To wrap up Part 4, I wanted to retest the best-performing pellets from before, which had all grouped 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or less. I was pretty sure one or two could do better, and it seemed that my rifle was starting to produce tighter groups than it had straight out of the box. These were my results: Air Arms Falcon pellets (0.622 inches, beating out the RWS Hobby pellet for second place), Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (0.630 inches, taking third place and booting the RWS Hobby pellet to fourth), Crosman Destroyer pellet (0.742 inches, just a hair better than before), and H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets (0.963 inches, actually a little wider than first time’s 0.875 inches and still getting beat out by the H&N Match Pistol pellet). A small surprise were the Crosman Premier Super Match pellets (0.707 inches) and Crosman Competition Wadcutter pellets (0.720 inches), which I used for initial sighting-in of my new scope mount setup. Both bettered their original 1-inch groups by more than a quarter inch. Again, I believe this barrel is now broken in after 500 shots or so, contributing to these tighter groups and providing better overall accuracy than we saw in the first tests.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Air Arms Falcon 2
The best of the retests was the Air Arms Falcon pellet, second-best to the Beeman hollowpoint coated pellet, but grouping almost twice as broad at 0.622 inches.

Conclusion
Below is a summary of best groups one inch or better from all accuracy testing:

Winchester MP4 group sizes

While discovering the Beeman hollowpoint coated doubles my effective shooting range to around 20 yards for a 1-inch target, it’s a shame that this gun seems to be a “one-shot wonder” that shoots best with only one specific pellet. From the list above, there’s no single pellet type that this gun seems to prefer as direction for additional testing, so I hope that blog readers will be kind enough to comment if they find other pellets that group under half an inch in the Winchester MP4.

Other military pellet rifles to consider
For the conclusion to my evaluation of the Winchester MP4, I’d like to mention some of the other military replica pellet rifles prospective buyers might consider if they decide that the MP4 is not for them. (BB-only rifles and machine guns are not included here.)

I’ve already mentioned the MP4’s historically older sibling, the Winchester M14. A replica of its namesake, this rifle is also a dual-CO2 canister BB and pellet semi-auto. It uses the same ammo mag and offers the same velocity as the MP4. However, it has no scope rail and many don’t like the fact that the stock is composite instead of wood.

The unquestioned dominator of the military pellet rifle arena remains the Crosman M4-177. This M4 replica is a reliable single-shot BB and pellet pneumatic and bears the coveted Gaylord “Tom’s Picks” seal in the Pyramyd Air catalog. It’s available in a variety of tan or black color and accessory combinations. The new Crosman USMC MOS 0311 Rifleman (an exclusive Crosman variation of the M4-177) appears to be another variant of this very popular replica. This is the gun I had in mind when I mentioned that more accurate rifles than the Winchester MP4 are available for half the price.

The Crosman MK-177 is a replica of the Magpul Masada (now being produced as the FN SCAR). This composite-stock pneumatic offers higher velocity and similar accuracy to the M4-177 (also beating the Winchester MP4 in the latter department, and for half the price). This rifle is a BB and pellet single-shot. B.B. Pelletier recently used the MK-177 to test the Leapers Accushot Scout Scope. While many disparage the bolt placement on the left side of the receiver, I own — and love — one of these rifles and never minded it (this is a replica — check on which side the bolt is actually located on the Magpul Masada). The MK-177 is available in tan or black and has two kit variations.

The Crosman Crosman MTR77NP is an M16 replica that is a single-shot Nitro Piston gas springer. This pellet rifle offers the highest velocity of any of these military replicas but requires heavy cocking effort due to the short barrel. It’s available in only black but comes in open-sight or scoped versions.

If you actually own an AR/M4 firearm, the Crosman MAR177 AR-15 Upper PCP conversion kit replaces the firearm upper with a .177-caliber competition precharged pneumatic unit. Designed specifically for 10-meter competition, velocity is a very nominal 600 fps. This is the most expensive option for a military pellet rifle (and a significant detour from the standalone guns listed here), but it seems like an ideal way to expand where and when you can shoot your military long gun.

The Beretta CX-4 Storm is an 88-gram CO2-powered replica of the tactical firearm of the same name. This semiauto’s claim to fame is the 30-pellet belt magazine, capable of ripping through a tin of pellets in no time. Open-sight and red-dot versions are available, though a scope can be mounted on the Picatinny rail.

The Gamo MP9 copies the B&T MP-9 9mm SMG and is unique among the CO2-powered BB submachine guns in handling pellets as well. Interestingly, this gun is listed as using the same ammunition magazine as the Winchester MP4 and M14, making it a 16-shot semi-auto (with the magazine flip). I included this odd-gun-out because it has a (collapsible) stock and scopeable Picatinny/Weaver rail.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Flambeau Tactical Case
The Winchester MP4 is a fun military replica that, despite some issues and limitations, will keep you looking like a well-armed commando whenever you feel the need to reconnoiter the backyard.

The options for new military replica pellet rifles are very limited at the moment. I hope that this blog has sufficiently informed readers about the Winchester MP4 to make an educated choice if buying one — or to achieve the best performance from their rifle if they already own one. I also hope that manufacturers will look to success stories like the Crosman M4-177 as well as the burgeoning airsoft market and bring some novel products to this mostly unexplored marketplace.

Editor’s final comment: HiveSeeker has done a super job in testing, researching and documenting his work on the Winchester MP4. I think his report will stand as the best article written about the airgun for a long time.


Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 3

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Today’s report is a continuation of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. Today, he tells us about the rifle’s performance.

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

Over to you, HiveSeeker.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle

Daisy’s Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle.

This is the third installment in my evaluation of the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle. The short version of Parts 1 and Part 2 is that this gun might be of interest to someone looking for a realistic AR15-style semiauto pellet rifle — as long as they can accept 1-inch, 10-yard groups and an intermittent ammo feed problem. I was determined to find out what was causing the ammo feed issue in order to minimize or eliminate it and was also certain the gun could shoot tighter groups with more testing. In Part 3 and also in Part 4, I make progress on both fronts.

This report covers:

• Catch-up
• The ammo feed problem
• Testing the ammunition magazine
• It’s the CO2 clip!
• Eliminating minor misfires

Catch-up
Before we continue, I want to add a couple comments that should have been included previously. First, in addition to the authentic realism of this replica gun, at 5.8 lbs., it hefts like a firearm. Most of the other military-style pellet rifles out there are lighter, and a number of reviewers mention that the realistic weight of the Winchester MP4 adds to its appeal. I agree.

Second (and B.B. was kind enough not to chide me for this), I failed to mention that despite the manual’s statement that no additional lubrication is needed for this gun once it leaves the factory, go ahead and put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each CO2 cylinder when you install it. That will help keep all those seals healthy and happy for years to come.

The ammo feed problem
I hadn’t experienced the MP4’s ammo feed problems to nearly the extent of some other shooters, but I was determined to figure out the possible causes and eliminate or minimize them. I suspected that the problem might be related to either the ammunition magazine (which has an 8-shot rotary cylinder on each end where the pellets or BBs are loaded), or the CO2 clip (which holds the two CO2 cartridges). I already had a number of spare magazines and ordered six additional CO2 clips directly from Daisy Customer Service for testing.

winchester MP4 CO2 rifle mag and CO2 clip
Two ammunition magazines on the left. They have 8-shot rotary cylinders on each end that hold the pellets or BBs. On the right are two CO2 clips that hold the CO2 cartridges. The ammo mag slides into it. Keep all these terms straight for the discussion below! That little plastic CO2 piercing key fits neatly into the slot at the bottom of the CO2 clip cover.

Testing the ammunition magazine
While I initially suspected the ammunition magazines were the source of inaccuracy, one curious fact is that these are the same ones used by the Winchester M14 and they apparently work flawlessly in that gun. It got 14 out of 15 five-star reviews at Pyramyd Air. We’ll come back to the ammunition magazine in a moment, but suffice to say that I ended up testing 9 different ammo mags in each of 7 different CO2 clips and found no difference in their performance. None of the ammo mags were malfunctioning.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle testing
Ammunition magazines and some CO2 clips ready for testing in the Winchester MP4. A few pellets, too — that’s coming in Part 4.

It’s the CO2 clip!
The CO2 clips proved to be another story. When they arrived from Daisy, they were all in excellent condition, but it was clear that two of them had been used. When I inquired, I was told that not enough new CO2 clips were available, so two units were pulled from returned MP4s. This is not encouraging, but they were much cheaper than expected, so I had no complaints. I marked all 7 of my CO2 clips and got ready to test the new arrivals. Clip 1 is the already-tested original that came with my rifle.

The first shot using clip 2 (the first of the 2 used clips) was a major flyer, zinging well off my point of aim. Not an auspicious start. Second shot, no pellet — just air (which I’ve been calling a misfire and one of the few ammo feed issues I’ve actually experienced up to this point). The third shot was my very first jam with this gun. The ammunition magazine would not eject from the CO2 clip, and I had to eject the CO2 clip itself to get the ammo mag loose.

I was especially careful to reseat the CO2 clip solidly for my next try. Fourth shot was another flyer but not quite as bad as the first. Fifth shot was another jam. This one was worse than the first, with the trigger jammed solid and the ammo mag again not ejecting. This time when I ejected the CO2 clip, the ammo mag actually stayed lodged inside the receiver!

It was suddenly clear what had happened — a pellet was jammed halfway between the ammo mag’s rotary cylinder and the barrel, locking the ammo mag in place. Fortunately, I had a plastic rod for clearing jams. Sure enough, I could feel the pellet slide back a little and then the ammo mag simply fell out of the gun.

When I examined the magazine, both the noses and skirts of several of the pellets showed visible deformation. This was the first time I’d really experienced the frustration of other MP4 buyers who had ended up returning their guns. I’d had enough — I was done testing clip 2! (Note that Daisy Customer Service replaced this clip with a brand new one at no charge.)

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle jammed ammo mag
The ammo mag was jammed in the gun, separate from the CO2 clip!

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle damaged pellets
This is what a bad CO2 clip does. This jam was so bad that the ammunition magazine remained lodged inside the receiver even after the CO2 clip was ejected. Note the damage to the two pellet skirts, especially the one on the right.

With no small amount of trepidation, I shot a full magazine using original clip 1, just to make sure my gun had not been damaged. Thankfully, everything was back to normal.

I was ready to test CO2 clip 3 — the other used one. Except for being a little tight in the receiver (something I’d also noted with my original clip), it performed flawlessly with all 9 ammunition magazines. I did have to push harder for the ammo mags to click into place, but that was all — and this actually smoothed out by the time I was finished testing. My experience was identical with the remaining brand-new CO2 clips 4 through 7. They varied in how tightly they fit into the receiver and how tightly ammunition magazines fit inside them, but they smoothed out with just a little use. And after hundreds of pellets, I had only a few misfires, which I subsequently decided were my own fault.

Here’s my important finding: The worst ammo feed problems are probably being caused by bad CO2 clips. Either the CO2 clip itself is not seating correctly within the receiver, or ammunition magazines are not seating correctly inside the CO2 clip. Either will cause the pellet not to line up with the barrel, resulting in a jam or misfire. This also explains why the identical ammunition magazine performs flawlessly in the Winchester M14 (where it locks directly into the receiver) but suddenly starts having problems in the MP4.

The obvious conclusion is that a replacement CO2 clip just might fix a misfiring MP4. If you order one directly from Daisy, try to make sure you’re getting a brand-new one, as these performed flawlessly — though I only had trouble with one of the two used clips. Note: To add to the nomenclature confusion, if you order this part from Daisy Customer Service, both they and the exploded parts diagram refer to the CO2 clip as the “Puncture Unit” (Part 79).

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle parts diagram
The Winchester MP4 exploded parts diagram. If you are ordering a replacement CO2 clip, it’s referred to as the “Puncture Unit” (Part 79).

We’ll take a minor detour as long as we have the MP4 parts diagram up. A number of reviews and blog comments describe the MP4 as a dressed-up Winchester M14. I initially thought otherwise, but the schematics prove me wrong. The barrel assembly and many other internal components appear identical. The CO2 clips share many parts as well. However, in the M14, the ammunition magazine slides freely through a hole in the CO2 clip and locks directly into the receiver. In the MP4, the ammo mag latches to the CO2 clip, which then latches into the receiver. As we’ve seen, having a middleman (the CO2 clip) between the ammo mag and the receiver is a potential problem. Besides the CO2 clip, the biggest differences between the M14 and the MP4 lie in the trigger mechanisms, receivers, and stocks and forearms.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle M14 parts diagram
T
he Winchester M14 does, indeed, share many parts with the MP4.

 

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle M14 CO2 clip
These are Winchester M14 CO2 Clips. The ammunition magazine slides freely through a hole in the CO2 clip (circled) but does not click into it. Instead, the ammo mag locks directly into the receiver — no middleman here! An ammo mag is shown inserted into the hole in the clip on right. This CO2 clip can be misaligned with the M14’s receiver without affecting ammo mag alignment at all.

Back to the MP4. One Pyramyd Air review suggests that the ammo mag misalignment may be caused by CO2 pressure pushing the CO2 clip slightly out of position. This is certainly plausible and might also explain why this problem can worsen over time (as other reviews report) if increasing wear is occurring. If wear is occurring on the CO2 clip, a replacement CO2 clip could fix the problem. If wear is occurring inside the receiver — or should something actually be wrong with the receiver to begin with — then it’s time to contact the manufacturer or start picking out a new rifle.

I ended up content with the fact that one of my new CO2 clips was not working (again, Daisy Customer Service sent a free replacement). Otherwise, I would still be scratching my head about what could be causing the more severe ammo problems I’ve been reading about. The fortunate bottom line is that this provides a likely fix for people with MP4s that are misfiring or jamming. Order a replacement CO2 clip from Daisy or Winchester Customer Service and see if that doesn’t remedy the problem.

Eliminating minor misfires
Although I never experienced a major ammo problem or jam, except while testing CO2 clip 2, I was still having minor misfires (firing a blank or a skipped pellet left in the ammunition magazine when done shooting). This was occurring about once every one or two magazines (or once every 16 to 32 shots if you’re counting — roughly 5% of the time). I wanted to eliminate this if I could. When I contacted Daisy Customer Service to order the extra CO2 clips, I inquired about this. While the Daisy rep did not acknowledge a known ammo feed issue with the MP4, I not only received some suggestions over the phone, but a follow-up email with additional information, as well.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle skipped pellet
Except for testing CO2 clip 2, all of my own ammo feed problems were limited to infrequent misfires (blank shots) and an occasional skipped pellet that remained in a supposedly empty ammunition magazine.

Daisy cautions that you should use good-fitting (tight) pellets and make sure they’re seated all the way. This will prevent pellets from backing out of the magazine (more specifically the rotary cylinder), causing a jam. I’ve been using a Pellet Pen with Pellet Seater for loading, and the advice makes sense. However, none of the pellets I tested were loose, and most actually fit quite tightly. Ironically, the only pellet that caused a problem was Winchester’s own hollowpoint, which stuck out the front of the cylinder (even when fully seated) just enough to interfere with the cylinder’s rotation. I simply pushed the pellet noses back in slightly and didn’t experience any misfires during subsequent accuracy testing.

Despite how tightly most pellets fit, however, if I pulled an ammo mag that still had pellets in it I sometimes noticed that pellets I had seated all the way into the cylinder were loose and pushed back a little. On one occasion, I actually had a loosened pellet fall backwards right out of the magazine. I could not determine what might actually be pushing pellets backwards in their cylinder cavities, but my first guess is that CO2 bypass somewhere must be exerting pressure on the front of the pellets. The gun’s mild recoil (or possibly the bolt recocking action) might be another possibility. Whatever the cause, once this happens previously stopper-tight pellets will slide easily in the cylinder. As far as I could determine, though, pellet fit was not a problem in my gun. And it was not the problem for Pyramyd Air reviewers who tried a range of pellets with all kinds of persistent problems, either — that was probably the CO2 clip.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle loading pellets
I went to great lengths to load each pellet the same.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle rotary cylinder
Use a pellet seater to seat pellets fully into the rotary cylinder. A very tiny ridge (arrow) stops the pellet skirt within each individual cylinder chamber.

Daisy’s other — and I think more relevant — suggestion was to shoot slower, allowing 3-5 seconds between shots to let the CO2 cartridges recover. My first thought was that this takes away a lot of the fun of a semi-auto. This specific feature was one of the reasons I’d purchased the MP4 to begin with. Of course, the first thing my wife did as soon as she got her hands on my new gun was see how fast she could make me work the reset cord on our knockdown target. Sure enough, she had a skipped pellet in the magazine following her quick-fire volley. That’s not quite fun.

My second thought, in the form of a tiny bell ringing in the back of my mind, was that during my chronograph tests when I was waiting a full minute between shots, I didn’t have a single misfire for almost 150 rounds. I thought this was an anomaly, but it wasn’t!

With this advice in hand, I continued my testing, making a point to take time to breathe several times between shots. Lo and behold, I went through nearly 600 pellets with only 4 misfires, and I believe I actually caused these. Two of the misfires were from shooting fast during some other testing, and the other two are discussed below. Slowing down my shooting has essentially eliminated all my misfires—though I’m not having quite as much fun with the semi-auto MP4 as I was before.

Now, as to those final two misfires. After ejecting a supposedly empty ammunition magazine and discovering a skipped pellet still present, I remembered that on one shot I’d partially depressed the trigger, run out of “breath” before I was ready to shoot and released the trigger for another try. When I later removed the CO2 clip, I inverted the gun and squinted down into the receiver. As I squeezed the trigger, sure enough, I saw the catch that indexes the rotary cylinder move. So, squeezing the trigger indexes the ammo mag cylinder, and I’d inadvertently rotated a pellet out of queue, causing a skipped pellet. This revelation occurred early in my latest round of testing, and I continued shooting with steady, deliberate trigger pulls after that (and tried to make sure I didn’t run out of “breath” again). This also means that you should fully release the trigger between shots, though this was not a problem for me as far as I could tell. More deliberate trigger work, along with slower pacing between shots, has resulted in no more misfires so far.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle cylinder indexing
This rectangular catch (shown by the large arrow) just under the breech indexes the rotary cylinder on the ammunition magazine when the trigger is pulled. The inset photo and small arrow show the ratchet teeth on the rotary cylinder that the catch engages. A false start on a trigger pull can rotate the cylinder without actually firing, causing a pellet to be skipped in the firing sequence.

In summary, misaligned CO2 clips appear to be causing the most severe ammo feed problems in the Winchester MP4, and a replacement CO2 clip should get a malfunctioning MP4 working correctly. Tight-fitting pellets, slower shooting and more deliberate trigger pulls can eliminate minor misfires; but these require additional time and concentration and take some of the fun out of shooting this semi-auto. While I really like the Winchester MP4 and continue to enjoy shooting it, I’m having to jump through hoops to make it work properly, which is something prospective owners need to consider.

In Part 4, I’ll complete my accuracy testing (and finally break the half-inch barrier) and wrap up my evaluation.


Gamo P900 IGT pellet pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol
Gamo P900 IGT air pistol

This report covers:

• Accuracy testing
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Trigger control
• Shot cycle
• Gamo Match pellets
• Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
• Air Arms Falcon pellets
• What’s the verdict?

Let’s look at the accuracy of the Gamo P900 IGT air pistol. Several of you have wondered if this is the air pistol you’ve been waiting for — today, we’ll see.

Accuracy testing
I shot the pistol off a rest at 10 meters. I rested my hands on a sandbag and held the pistol away from the bag with a two-hand hold. I used a 6 o’clock hold sight picture, which is more difficult to do with a bead fiberoptic front sight. But the target was brightly lit, and the firing point was in the dark; so, the fiberoptics did not illuminate, nor did the strange yellow rear sight blade cause any problems.

All pellets were deeply seated with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater. You may remember that we discovered this pistol likes them seated deeply during the velocity test.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter that did so well in the velocity test. The first pellet landed to the left of the bull at about 7 o’clock, so I stopped looking and just shot the rest. Alas, when I was finished, the 10 shots had scattered over 1.724 inches. It looked more like a shotgun pattern than a group. Obviously, Hobbys are not the right pellet for this pistol.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this 1.724-inch group at 10 meters. Despite being shot from a rest, this is not a good pellet for the pistol.

Trigger control
I find the trigger easy to operate. Stage 2 breaks relatively crisply and doesn’t take that much effort. As I said in Part 2, it’s a fine trigger.

Shot cycle
The P900 has a smooth shot cycle that’s quick and almost without vibration. It also doesn’t make much noise when it discharges. It just sits in your hand and pulses quietly with each shot. I know it has a gas spring, but it doesn’t have any of the usual drawbacks (hard cocking, stiff jolt upon firing, loud crack upon discharge, etc.) that I can see.

Gamo Match pellets
Next up were 10 Gamo Match wadcutters. Since this is a Gamo gun, I figured…why not? These pellets landed more in the center of the bull and also held a tighter group that measures 1.167 inches between centers. This is about what I expected the P900 to do.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Gamo Match group
Ten Gamo Match wadcutters went into this 1.167-inch group at 10 meters. This is more like it.

Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
Because I tried them in the velocity test, I figured I had to also try the Gamo Raptor PBA pellets for accuracy. I didn’t expect much, because I have seen Raptors do well only in one pistol so far — a smoothbore Marksman 1010. For some reason, they were better than any other pellet in that pistol when I tested it. But in the P900, they went into a group measuring 1.946 inches — the largest of this test.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Gamo Raptor group

Ten Gamo Raptor PBA pellets made this 1.946-inch group at 10 meters. This is the largest group of the test.

Air Arms Falcon
I thought I would give one more pellet a chance, so I tried the Air Arms Falcon dome. It’s light, at 7.3 grains, and it’s often among the most accurate pellets for a given gun. This time, they made the second-best 10-shot group, at 1.256 inches between centers. While that’s larger than I’d like to see, the pellets are nicely centered on the bull.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Falcon group

Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets went into this 1.256-inch group at 10 meters. It’s the second best group of the test and also nicely centered on the bull.

Of course, there’s no way to know if I’ve found the best pellets for the pistol without testing a lot of other brands. An owner would do that, of course.

What’s the verdict?
The P900 is a pleasant air pistol. It’s lightweight, holds well and has a nice trigger. The odd sights are easy to use, too. Take my results as typical; and if they satisfy you, this is a nice air pistol.


Gamo P900 IGT pellet pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol

Gamo P900 IGT pistol

This report covers:

• Velocity
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Gamo Match pellets
• Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
• Trigger
2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update

Velocity
Let’s get right into the report. Today, we’ll look at the velocity of this Gamo P900 IGT air pistol. A number of comments were made about how underpowered this air pistol is, but I disagree. They’re condemning it without testing it — from just reading the numbers. We’ll set that straight today.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. This pure lead pellet is probably just right for the P900 powerplant. Gamo advertises the P900 as getting 400 f.p.s. with lead-free alloy pellets, so we expect the Hobbys to be slower because they’re heavier. And slower they are! When I seated them flush with the breech, Hobbys averaged 332 f.p.s. with a range from 321 to 340 — a spread of 19 f.p.s. They developed 1.71 foot-pounds, on average.

Because this pistol is lower powered, I decided to see what effect deep-seating the pellet would have. I used the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater to seat the Hobby pellets deep in the breech. This time, the pellet averaged 365 f.p.s. — a gain of 38 f.p.s. The low velocity was 358 and the high was 373, so the spread was 15 f.p.s. Seated this way, they developed 2.07 foot-pounds, on average. I think it’s clear this pistol likes the pellets to be seated deep, so that’s how I will proceed with the test.

Gamo Match pellets
The next pellet I tested was the 7.56-grain Gamo Match wadcutter. I didn’t even try them seated flush. Seated deep, they averaged 360 f.p.s. with a spread from 358 to 363 f.p.s., so this time just 5 f.p.s. separated the slowest from the fastest pellet. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 2.18 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
The last pellet I tested was the Gamo Raptor PBA. This lead-free domed pellet weighs just 5.4 grains and is used to extract high velocity from airguns. Remember — Gamo advertises the P900 as getting up to 400 f.p.s. Well, that turns out to be quite conservative! This pistol I’m testing averaged 490 f.p.s. The range was from a low of 457 f.p.s. to a high of 508 f.p.s. So the spread was 51 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 2.88 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Just to see what the differences are, I also shot 4 Raptor pellets loaded flush with the breech. They ranged from a low of 439 f.p.s. to a high of 455 f.p.s.; so even loaded normally, this pistol still exceeds its advertised velocity. I may have an example that’s on the hot side, and maybe you won’t get quite as much velocity as you see here, but I think they should all get at least 400 when shooting PBA pellets.

You naysayers can revise your arguments, now. This pistol exceeds its advertised expectations by a lot. I still like the firing behavior and the trigger, though I’m sure there will be critics.

Trigger
The non-adjustable 2-stage trigger on the test pistol breaks crisply at 3 lbs., 15 oz. to 4 lbs., 1 oz. It’s a fine trigger and just what I need to shoot this pistol accurately.

2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update
This report was short, so I’ll use the space to update you on the 2014 Ft. Worth airgun show that will be held on Saturday, September 6.

The following dealers and manufacturers are expected to have tables:

Pyramyd Air
Umarex USA
AirForce Airguns
Dennis Quackenbush
Flying Dragon Air Rifles (Mike Melick)
Hatsan USA

The following dealers and manufacturers are considering attending or have indicated they may attend:

Airgun Depot
Daisy
Crosman
Scott Pilkington
Neal Stepp

Also attending will be:

American Airgunner TV
Steve Criner — TV’s Dog Soldier
Eric Henderson — big bore airgun hunter and guide
Jim Chapman — writer for Predator Extreme magazine and airgun hunter

I’m making a big push to get the smaller private dealers now. These are the guys who have vintage airguns for sale. The club has a communal table for members to display and sell their airguns. This club is where I recently purchased the BSA Airsporter Stutzen I’ve been reporting on, a BSA Scorpion pistol and a Schimel gas pistol from the 1950s.

I am going to really shake the trees, because I know there are many airgunners who will come to this one-day show. The sheer volume of people though the door will make it worth their while to attend. Who knows what unusual airguns are going to walk through the doors?

If you have some unusual airguns to sell, this show is the place to sell them! We should get a number of advanced collectors who are attracted to this brand new airgun show because of the curious guns they may find. We’re also attracting those who are new to airguning and are looking for the vintage guns they’ve read about but never seen.

Don’t forget our door prize and the three major raffle prizes that have been donated:

Air Venturi Bronco
AirForce Condor SS
Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE
Walther LGV Master Ultra

Other drawings and freebies are also in the works. Lots of guns, lots of freebies, lots of fun!

Mark September 6 on your calendar. You’ll want to be at the Ft. Worth airgun show in Poolville, Texas.


El Gamo 300: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

El Gamo 300
El Gamo 300 was a low-priced quality breakbarrel from the 1960s and ’70s.

Before I begin, blog reader HiveSeeker has asked me for some photography tips. Not that I’m a great picture-taker, but I do have some tips on how to photograph airguns. For starters, he wondered about photographing dark guns like his Winchester MP4. In the past, I’ve done several reports on airgun photography, but we may have enough new readers that it would be of interest, again. What do you think?

Okay, let’s get started. Today, we’re looking at the accuracy of the El Gamo 300.

This report covers:

• Poor man’s R7
• Trigger
• Firing behavior
• Accuracy
• First pellet
• Summary

A poor man’s R7
The El Gamo 300 was supposed to be my “poor man’s Beeman R7.” It was supposed to have the power and accuracy of the R7 (which is a modified HW 30S) at a cost that was far less. At the time, when the 300 was selling (the late 1970s), the R7 was sold with open sights, so the two airguns were comparable. The HW 30S still does has open sights today; so in that respect, the comparison can still be made.

As it turned out, the 300 is about 100 f.p.s. slower than an R7. The cocking is easier, but this rifle isn’t in the same power class, so any comparison suffers.

Adjustable trigger
Alas, the 300’s trigger is much simpler and only minimally adjustable, while the R7/30S both have the famous Rekord, which is one of the finest sporting airgun triggers of all time. I did try to adjust it, but the biggest thing that seemed to change was the length of the first-stage travel. The pull did drop, but only by a little. When the first-stage travel was shortened it did increase the length and creep of stage two; so I guess you could say it does adjust the pull to that extent, but the results were not very encouraging. It’s an acceptable trigger for an inexpensive spring rifle, but far below the Rekord for performance and adjustability.

One reason I wanted to get a 300 is because I believed it had the same action and trigger of the El Gamo 68 XP. That rifle’s trigger is very adjustable; and, while it gets unreliable when you take it down too light, it’s very crisp and positive when adjusted to a normal sporting level (3-5 lb. pull weight). The 300 trigger can be adjusted even lighter with safety, but it still retains some creep in stage two.

Firing behavior
The 300 is a buzzy gun. I could no doubt fix it with a little tuning, but right now the buzz is its most annoying feature. When this gun was new in the 1970s, nearly every air rifle felt the same and there was no basis for comparison. However, in the past 20 years, both airgun design and tuning tricks have improved so much that the vintage guns now suffer in comparison.

Accuracy
For today’s test, I shot this rifle at 10 meters from a rested position. I used the traditional artillery hold with the rifle rested on my off hand, back by the triggerguard. As you’ll recall from my earlier reports, I felt the rear sight notch was too narrow for the front blade. Well, when the target was illuminated by a 500-watt lamp, it was easy to see the whole front sight and some light on either side. That made aiming precise when I didn’t believe it could be.

The rifle cocked easily; and when the barrel closed, the detent locked it tight. One of our readers mentioned that breakbarrels with opposing chisels at the breech seem to lock up tighter and with more authority than do those whose chisel detent rides over a round pin. I have to mention that the 300 has the double chisel arrangement and the reader is right. When this barrel closes, it sounds like a bank vault.

El Gamo 300 chisel breech
Looking down at the open breech, we see the chisel lock (right) that engages the spring-loaded chisel detent on the baseblock. This arrangement makes the breech lock up more positively than if the chisel detent had to go over a round crosspin. That hole above the chisel lock is the air transfer port.

First pellet
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. I used a 6 o’clock hold and squeezed off the first shot, which surprised me when I saw the pellet had hit the 10-ring almost in the center. After that, I just shot the next 9 rounds without looking again. When I looked after all 10 shots had been fired, I saw a nice round 0.588-inch group in the center of the bull. That was a good start!

El Gamo 300 Hobby target
Not only is this 0.588-inch group of 10 Hobbys nice and round, it’s also centered in the bull. That makes it appear even better than it is. This is the best group the El Gamo 300 shot at 10 meters.

Next, I shot 10 Air Arms Falcons. The first shot hit the 9 ring, and I didn’t have to look again until it was all over. Ten shots landed in 0.629 inches, but 9 of them were in 0.41 inches. While this group is slightly larger than the Hobbys, I would say the Falcons are probably more accurate, just based on those 9 tight shots.

El Gamo 300 Falcon target
This group of 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets looks amazing, though at 0.629 inches between centers it’s larger than the Hobby group. Without that one pellet at the bottom, there are 9 in 0.41 inches.

The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. I saw the first shot go into the 8-ring so I stopped looking until it was over. This time, though, the pellets spread out more, and the group measures 0.771 inches between centers. From the open appearance of this group, I can tell that Premier lites are not the best pellet for the El Gamo 300.

El Gamo 300 Premier lite target
Crosman Premier lites scattered more than the other two pellets. Ten made this 0.771-inch group. The group looks larger than it really is because the pellet on the right tore the target wider than where it penetrated.

Summary
The El Gamo 300 is not a poor man’s R7. It is what it is — a nice, inexpensive spring rifle that offers a lot of value for the price. Even today, when the used guns sell for $50-100, they’re still a bargain. But they’re not in the same class as a CZ Slavia 630/631, which really is a poor man’s R7.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to test several air rifles in this same vintage class over the past few years. Some of them, like the Diana 25 with the ball-bearing sear, are superlative airguns that withstand the test of time. Their very design makes them perform at a higher level than most guns. Others, such as the Falke model 70, promise the moon but fail to deliver. This El Gamo 300 is closer to the latter guns, although its low price does make it an ideal candidate for home gunsmithing for the careful hobbyist.

No doubt the 300 can be modified and tuned to be a wonderful air rifle; and when it is, it’ll have the accuracy needed to carry it off. But there are other airguns that are inherently nice just as they come from the factory. A 300 is probably the cheaper way to go, but expect to spend some time and sweat equity to turn it into what you really want.


El Gamo 300: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

El Gamo 300
El Gamo 300 was a low-priced, quality breakbarrel from the 1960s and ’70s.

I’m out of the office for the next couple days. Will the veteran readers please help the newer readers with their answers while I’m gone? As always, I’ll see the blog early in the morning and, again, late at night. Thanks! On to today’s report.

This report covers:

• A little more history of the 68-XP
• Velocity testing
• Breech seal
• Retesting velocity
• Cocking effort
• Trigger-pull
• How my life has changed

Today, I’ll test the El Gamo 300 velocity. I see that many of you were surprised to learn these were made in both Spain and Brazil. Furthermore, a number of newer readers had missed the 6-part report on the El Gamo 68-XP and were surprised to see it referenced in Part 1 of this report. Here’s a little more on that subject.

There was a repeating version of the 68-XP that had the same mechanism as the El Gamo Expomatic. It was a tube above the gun that fed pellets into the breech one at a time as the barrel was broken during cocking. It didn’t work too well, and Air Rifle Headquarters refused to carry either repeater. They tested them and found that they jammed too easily. I’ve tested other air rifles that have a similar repeating system, and that was my experience, as well. That must mean that the repeating version of the 68-XP is very rare because few were ever sold.

Back to the 300. According to the ARH catalog, a broken-in 300 should shoot about 665 f.p.s., and one that’s been accurized gets up to 680 f.p.s. They don’t mention what pellet was used in testing to obtain these numbers; but given that it was the 1970s, we know it had to be a lead pellet. Lead-free pellets were not on the market at that time.

Velocity testing
The first pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. They averaged 503 f.p.s. for 10 shots. The velocity ranged from 490 f.p.s. to 511 f.p.s., so a 21 f.p.s. spread.

I thought that was low, so I tried 10 more that were deep-seated with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater. This time, the average rose to 506 f.p.s., which is hardly worth the effort. The spread went from 496 f.p.s. to 519 f.p.s., so the spread opened to 23 f.p.s. Deep-seating doesn’t seem to be worth the time and effort with this rifle.

The next pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. These averaged 539 f.p.s. The Hobby was the lightweight lead speed demon of its day, so this rifle is not performing to spec. And yes, I did oil the leather piston seal before testing. The spread for Hobbys was from 524 to 547 f.p.s., so 23 f.p.s.

The final pellet I tested was the 7.33-grain Air Arms Falcon. They averaged 519 f.p.s. with a spread from 510 to 523 f.p.s. So the spread was only 13 f.p.s. Falcons fit the breech loosely, where the other two pellets fit snugly.

Breech seal
That puts today’s test into perspective. I don’t think my test rifle has been shot very much, if at all, because it doesn’t have the bluing wear that’s usually found on guns that have been used, and the bluing is original. I looked at the breech seal, which looked okay, but it’s very difficult to tell by just looking. There was no puff of air to be felt at the breech, but sometimes that isn’t conclusive, either.

While the seal looks like an o-ring, it’s really a tall synthetic seal that’s proprietary. When I removed it, I could see that nothing I could make would work as well, so I made a spacer to fit under it, raising it for a tighter fit.

Gamo 300 breech seal
The breech seal (right) and the plastic shim I made to fit under it to raise it higher at the breech.

Gamo 300 making breech seal
I made the breech seal spacer from a coffee can lid by using hole punches.

Re-testing velocity
The spacer did increase velocity a little. Premiers went from an average of 503 to an average 522 f.p.s., and the spread that had been 21 f.p.s. dropped to 15 f.p.s. Hobbys went from 539 to 568 f.p.s., and the spread went from 23 f.p.s down to 15 f.p.s. Falcons jumped from an average 519 f.p.s. to 553, and the spread that had been 13 f.p.s. dropped to 6 f.p.s.

While these are all improvements, I don’t think they’re large enough to warrant the work that was done. I would leave the rifle where it is; but now that the spacer is in place, I won’t remove it.

Cocking effort
I measured the cocking effort on my bathroom scale. It topped out at 19 lbs., making the 300 a youth rifle by my criteria of a cocking effort of 20 lbs. or less. But the large size of the rifle means that it is for older kids or adults.

Trigger-pull
The trigger was releasing at 3 lbs., 2 oz., with the second stage being very creepy. I adjusted the one screw behind the trigger in both directions. Turned all the way in (clockwise), the first stage is removed entirely, and the pull remained where it was. Turned out as far as it will go, the first stage becomes light and stops positively at stage two. Stage two releases at 2 lbs., 14 oz., so a 4-oz. decrease from where it was.

The rifle is now ready for 10-meter accuracy testing. I may do something about the narrow rear sight notch so I can see some light around either side of the front post. If I do, I’ll tell you and show you what I do.

How the blog changed my life
I initially published this section on the May 30, 2014, blog. I’m going to repeat it at least once a week during June and July so it doesn’t get lost or forgotten.

From the comments many of you make, I believe the blog may have positively impacted your lives. I invite you to send me an email telling me about that impact.

Were you a firearms shooter who accidentally discovered airguns through this blog? If so, tell me how this blog has helped your understanding of airguns.

Were you already an airgunner, but you thought what you saw in the big box stores was all there was? If so, how has this blog helped you understand more about airguns?

I’ve gotten quite a few responses already, but I want to make sure you know that I’m not looking for “attaboys,” pats on the back or personal recognition. I’m looking for real feedback on what you’ve learned so I can target my blogs to what you feel is important, what you’d like to know and what you’re still unsure of. This blog is written for its readers, and I want to share your stories with others who may be where you were before you found this blog.

Pyramyd Air has created a special temporary email address for this. I’ll be the only person to get these emails, and we’re not going to generate any lists from the addresses.

My plan is to publish one or more blog reports with the more interesting comments. If you want, I will use your real name or blog handle; but you can be anonymous, too. I won’t use your name or handle unless you give me written permission to do so.

This email address will be live for only a few weeks. We have tens of thousands of readers worldwide. Even if you’ve never commented on the blog, you can email me your message if you like. If you’re reading this blog after July 2014, email submissions will no longer be forwarded to me, and you may get an auto-reply email stating that or your email might bounce back to you.