HW 35 Luxus: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

HW35 Luxus.

This report covers:

  • Barrel droop
  • First pellet
  • Next pellets
  • Bottom line

Before I begin, I must tell you that my wife, Edith, passed away yesterday, Sunday, July 26 at 10 a.m., Central. She was under sedation and unaware of what was happening.

Edith Gaylord will be missed.

Edith wanted me to tell you what happened. We actually talked about it last week. I am not in a frame of mind to write much these days, but I promised her the blog would carry on. Those of you who visit my socnets could help me by posting a comment regarding this, because I haven’t got the time to go there.

I said I would come back to this rifle and mount a scope because so many of you asked me to. Today is the day.

Barrel droop

If you remember, my HW35 Luxus has severe barrel droop, so mounting a scope is a challenge. I used a prototype UTG drooper scope base and mounted an AirForce 4-16X50 scope in 2-piece UTG Max Strength high rings. That put the scope too high for comfort, but it was the only mount I had at the time. I had to rest my chin on the comb to see through the scope.The HW35 Luxus has visible barrel droop

The HW35 Luxus has visible barrel droop.

First pellet

The first pellet I tried was the one that did best in the test with open sights — the Qiang Yuan Training pellet. With open sights I was able to shoot 10 into 0.986-inches and 0.898-inches at 25 yards.

With the scope mounted I put 10 into 1.574-inches, but 7 of them are in 0.724-inches. From this target I learned 2 things. First, the rifle shoots the same with a scope and with open sights. And second, it is very sensitive to how it is held. If I played with the hold I am sure I could tighten the group up to equal the best group with open sights.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets
Ten pellets in 1.574 inches, but 7 of them are in 0.724 inches. The placement of the hand with the artillery hold is critical.

Next pellets

I tried Air Arms Falcon pellets, but after 7 shots the group grew to 2.148 inches and I stopped shooting. I also tried Crosman Premier light pellets with 4.55mm heads, but they scattered everywhere. The same pellet with a 4.54mm head landed 10 in 1.982-inches. That’s not a good group, but it does show the difference the head sizes can make.

Crosman Premier light
Ten Premier lites with 4.54mm heads went into 1.982 inches at 25 yards

Bottom line

My HW35 Luxus is very hold-sensitive! I’m sure I can make it shoot tighter, but I don’t think I want to try. This is a perfect gun for open sights and that’s how I will keep it from now on. And this is the last test I will do with this rifle.

Back to the basics — Scope tips: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Use a bigger target
  • Don’t look through the sight when adjusting it!
  • Don’t go too far!
  • Don’t adjust on the basis of a single shot
  • Don’t change the reticle!
  • What have you learned?
  • Big bore match at the 2015 Texas airgun show
  • Coming tomorrow: Log-in to make a blog comment

I was at the range last week with my brother-in-law, Bob, who was visiting us for the Fourth of July. He brought his Colt AR-15 to get my help sighting-in, which I was glad to do. He has had a lot of problems sighting-in this rifle with optical sights, and I wanted to see what they were firsthand. Boy — am I glad I did! I think some of you will be, too, because this experience made today’s report.

Bob had already gone through several scopes on this rifle — never being satisfied with any of the results he got. This time, he had a dot sight mounted on the gun, and the mounts allowed him to also see the rifle’s standard peep sights. An AR-15 is hard to boresight (align the bore of the rifle with an optical sight) because you can’t see down the barrel. With a bolt rifle you can simply remove the bolt and look down the barrel while aligning the scope’s reticle. When the bullseye appears to be centered in the barrel at the same time the crosshairs are centered inside the bull, you’re boresighted. A shot at this point should strike pretty close to the bullseye.

We sighted-in at 50 yards, and Bob mentioned another problem he had encountered. What if the bullet fails to strike the paper target at all? What do you do then? People don’t think about this until they get to the range and actually begin shooting. If your bullets aren’t hitting anything you can see, there’s no way you will know if you’re high, low, left or right. Hence, you’re making sight adjustments with no reference and hoping on luck to see you though. This is where my first secret tip comes in.

Use a bigger target

Several years ago, I acquired about a thousand 2-foot by 4-foot silhouette targets — the kind used for defense training. I turn them around and staple the plain white target paper to the backer board at the range. Then, I position the sight-in target in the center of that.

sight-in target
With the target centered inside a larger piece of paper, the chances of seeing even a wild shot are good.

The first shot from his rifle at 50 yards missed the 10-1/2 by 12 inch paper target altogether but landed about a foot to the left of center (3-4 inches to the left of the target paper) and 6 inches high. Had he just shot at the target by itself, this shot would have been lost. The larger paper behind the target was the only thing that showed where he hit.

Don’t look through the sight when adjusting it!

I told him he needed to adjust the sight by a foot to the right and 6 inches down. He looked at the dot sight adjustment screws and then proceeded to look at the target through the sight while he turned the windage screw. Don’t do that. The dot in this case, or reticle if it’s a scope, has to move in the direction opposite where you want the bullet to move. Looking through the sight while adjusting it is a surefire way to confuse yourself. If you want the bullet to move up, the dot must come down against the target.

Bob adjusts sight
Don’t look through an optical sight while you adjust it.

I speak from experience, because just 2 years ago I was so fascinated that a Russian sniper scope reticle actually moved inside the scope as it was adjusted that I watched through the scope while I was adjusting it. And I adjusted it right off the backer paper before realizing what I’d done. I had forgotten this until I saw Bob doing the same thing. Then it was obvious. Have any of you done this?

Most optical sights are marked with directions that tell you which way the bullet will go when they are turned. Heck, my M1 Garand battle rifle has these marks on both knobs of the rear peep sight. Pay attention to the directions on the adjustment knobs and forget looking through the scope until the adjustments have been made. Most of the time, turning the elevation knob clockwise lowers the strike of the round — and counter-clockwise raises it. And most of the time turning the windage adjustment knob clockwise moves the round to the left — and counter-clockwise moves it to the right. Most times.

Some scopes have their adjustment knobs or screws located in odd places, or they have left-hand screw threads. These will more than likely adjust in the opposite direction from what I just said. So, pay attention to those directions and do what they tell you.

If there are no directions, make small adjustments and see which direction they move the strike of the round. And don’t forget that your scope may have stiction. Some scopes take one and even two shots to respond to any adjustments you make.

Don’t adjust too far!

After the first shot, I told Bob to crank a lot of right adjustment and some down adjustment into his sight. Bad choice of words on my part. He took me at my word and adjusted what he thought was a lot of right adjustment and fired two more rounds that didn’t seem to have hit the paper. Uh, oh! What happened, now? Did he adjust the sight too far to the right, or did he adjust it in the wrong direction and go off the paper backer to the left? When there’s no bullet hole to see, you have nothing to go on.

Then, I spotted a bullet hole way over on the right edge of the backer paper — about 18 inches from the first shot. One of the two rounds had hit the backer paper — fortunately. Bob and I needed to agree about our definitions of what a lot of adjustment means! It was my fault. He asked for my help, and I was assuming he would do things like I would. I then asked him to adjust the dot sight back to the left and slightly down because he was still shooting too high.

The next bullet landed closer to the bull and was, in fact, the first bullet to strike the target paper instead of the backer paper. Now we were getting somewhere. Another adjustment put a bullet too far to the left of the bull, and I remembered another important lesson.

Don’t adjust on the basis of a single shot

This is very important. Do not fire one shot and then adjust your sight from that bullet hole! Remember that your gun shoots groups. All the bullets will not go into a single hole. Shoot two or even better yet three rounds, and then adjust the scope or dot sight from the center of that group.

Bob did this. Within a few more shots, he was striking inside the black bull at 50 yards. As I predicted, his rounds weren’t all landing in the same hole, but they were close enough to let us know where the rifle was shooting.

Don’t change the reticle!

Then he did something to his sight and then said to me, “I wonder if this green reticle with the crosshairs is the one I should be using. I just switched over to the dot reticle.”

Oh no! “Bob, you just did the electronic equivalent of removing the sight and replacing it with a different one!”

Surely not! “Why would they give me these different reticles to choose from if they don’t all shoot to the same place?”

“Try it and see,” I suggested. The next round landed on the edge of the target paper, about 7 inches from where he’d been hitting. Lesson learned.

He switched back to the reticle he’d used before. Fortunately, the shot moved back to roughly the same place. We refined the sight setting and were done. His rifle was sighted-in, and several important lessons had been learned.

What have you learned?

Today’s report was about optical sights, but not the technical side. We weren’t looking at minutes of angle. We weren’t dealing with excessive droop or cant or any of the more common things shooters talk about when the subject of optical sights is discussed. We were simply learning how to adjust the sight. Yet, everything we’ve looked at today is just as important as any of those other things.

Big bore match at the 2015 Texas airgun show

The 2015 Texas airgun show is coming up fast. It will be held on August 29 at the Parker County Sportsman Club in Poolville, Texas. This year the show will feature the LASSO big bore match that has not been held since 2012.

I expect to see the usual big bores from Dennis Quackenbush, some Korean big bores like the Sam Yang Dragon Claw and of course the new AirForce Airguns Texan. Those are the big bores everyone is shooting, but nowadays we also have some new guns like the Benjamin BulldogHatsan Carnivore in both .30 and .35 calibers, and Evanix Max-ML. And, I’m hearing about many more new big bores from around the country — some with air cartridges and others with interchangeable barrels! I sure hope some of these new guns decide to compete this year!

The Crosman Corporation has generously donated one of their Bulldog big bores with a scope and ammunition as the grand prize for this match. Some-sharp shooting big bore competitor will leave the show with the very rifle I tested for this blog! And I will provide a letter of authentication that states this was the rifle I used for both the blog and for my feature article in the July 2015 color edition of Shotgun News, which hits your newsstands this month!

So, come to the show to see the guns. Come to sell your airguns. Come to see the big bore match and don’t forget to come to the reception we’re holding the night before, where you can watch the filming of a special segment of American Airgunner for next year!

Coming tomorrow: Log-in to make a blog comment

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Back to the basics — Scope tips: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Droop — or downward slant
  • My point is…
  • I must care about this
  • Scope placement

This series examines the task of mounting a scope on an air rifle and sighting it in. Part 2 addressed mounting a scope, but it didn’t cover all of the problem areas, so today I’ll continue the discussion.

Droop — or downward slant

I will say that 80 percent of all the firearms and airguns I have examined have some degree of downward slant of their bores in relation to the line of sight of a scope that’s mounted on them. And I will go on to say that half of those are so serious as to cause problems. The airgun term for this is droop. The firearm world has no term for it and is generally ignorant of the problem. The single firearm that doesn’t seem to have this problem to the extent mentioned here is the AR platform. Perhaps the designers recognized the problem and solved it through engineering. I don’t know, but ARs seem to be relatively droop-free.

I used to think droop was an airgun problem; and like most airgunners, I thought it mostly affected breakbarrels. It’s easy to think that way. But all powerplants, including those with fixed barrels, will droop. And most of them do. The barrel isn’t actually drooping like a limp noodle — it’s simply pointed down and away from the scope’s line of sight.

About a year ago, while helping another shooter at my rifle range resolve a scope problem with his Remington 700 rifle, I realized firearms were also infected with droop. This guy had his vertical elevation cranked up as far as it would go, and he was still shooting low. Obviously, the fix was to shim the scope on top of the rear ring saddle and under the rear of the scope. That makes the scope slant down. We did and it worked, but not completely. We got him up to the point of aim at 100 yards with 2 shims made from soda can aluminum pieces, but his scope was still cranked up too high.

The real solution was to swap the rings front and rear. And if this had been an airgun, we could have done that. But his rings only fit the rifle one way, so that fix wasn’t possible. What he had to do was install a universal scope base (actually 2 small bases) onto which a Weaver scope ring would clamp.

After this encounter, I started paying attention to firearms with scope issues and my eyes were opened! Barrel droop is a universal problem!

Do you remember the Schuetzen rifle I mention acquiring a few weeks ago? I had it out to the range and had to dial the scope’s external adjustments as high as they would go to hit the target 10 inches below the point of aim at 50 yards. The bases on my rifles were the wrong ones, and one of them had to be exchanged to give the scope the correct downward slant. The scope is also way off to the right, so a lot of adjustment has to be dialed-in to get the group centered. In this case, whoever mounted the scope on this rifle was not a careful worker. The holes have to be redrilled for the correct bases and to align the scope properly left and right.

My point is…

When you mount a scope, believe that you’re mounting it on a drooper. That’s what I do when I mount scopes, and I’m seldom disappointed. This tip, alone, is worth the entire price of today’s report!

Here’s why my tip almost always works. If the gun is, indeed, a drooper, you solve the problem during the mounting process. No need to take the scope off and start over. If the gun isn’t a drooper, you just gained a lot of additional useful elevation adjustment. The bottom portion of the elevation adjustment range (i.e., adjusting the reticle down below the midpoint) does not put the scope in peril like the top portion (adjusting up above the midpoint) does. You can always adjust down, but going up is where the problems lie.

There are a couple rare instances where my tip won’t work. One is when the gun slants up instead of down. The other is when the gun is such a severe drooper that extreme measures have to be taken. You’ll encounter these situations with only a small fraction of the guns that are scoped. And both can be fixed the same way — if you have the courage.

I wrote a blog about Bending airgun barrels that addresses what must be done to correct a severe drooping or upward-slanting barrel. This will also work when a barrel points to the right or left, though I believe the scope mount should be fully explored before you try bending a barrel this way.

I must care about this

I have spent a long time today discussing one point of scope mounting, so I must think it’s important. You would do well to consider what I’ve said.

Scope placement

The next thing I’ll address is where the scope is positioned on the rifle. It has to be close enough to your eye so the full image can be seen when the rifle’s mounted on your shoulder in the usual fashion. Some scopes, like compacts and Bug Busters, are so short they can only be mounted close enough to the eye on a few air rifles. On most rifles, the scope stop location forces you to mount the compact scope too far forward, and the image is reduced to less than optimum.

The height of the eyepiece is another consideration. Some airguns, such as the TX200 Mark III, have ultra-high cheekpieces for high-mounted scopes. All the AirForce precharged sporting rifles use high-mounted scopes.

Other guns, like the Hatsan BT65 QE I’m now testing, have adjustable cheekpieces. This makes the rifle adapt to the high scope mount it needs to clear the magazine.

Hatsan BT65 QE
The Hatsan BT65 QE (seen here at the SHOT Show) has an adjustable cheekpiece to raise the eye to the necessary high scope.

Too many shooters obsess over mounting a scope as low as possible. A low-mounted scope on the right rifle is very convenient; but on the wrong gun, it is a disaster! And a large percentage of rifles are not suited to low scopes.

There’s no accuracy advantage to mounting a scope low. Shooters will tell you that the lower the scope is mounted, the less trajectory you have to deal with — and that can be demonstrated in software ballistic programs; but if you know your rifle, it makes no difference downrange. The only advantage I see to mounting a scope low is the lessening of cant as an aiming problem.

That’s my discussion for today.

Air Venturi Tech Force M12 combo: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Air Ventury Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle
The new Tech Force M12 breakbarrel is a new midrange springer from Air Venturi.

Today’s report is an important one, but it may be confusing until you hear the whole story. The last time I reported on this Tech Force M12 combo was back on November 19 of last year. A lot has happened with this rifle since then, and I’ve kept daily readers informed of what’s been going on, but it would have been easy to overlook and even easier to forget. So I’ll summarize.

The M12 I’m testing is a drooper, and I first had to solve that problem. Once I did, I noticed it threw fliers. I cleaned the barrel — but it got no better. I tightened all the screws — again, no change. I cleaned the barrel with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound — and still there was no improvement. Then, I shot the gun just to break it in — again, no change.

All of this work took a lot of time, as I was testing and reporting on other guns. I also set the rifle aside for weeks at a time out of sheer frustration. In late January of this year, I decided to have another go at discovering what the problem was. I had to locate a drooper scope because, by this time, I’d used the scope that was on this rifle for other tests. I reread the early reports and discovered that this rifle had shot very well at 10 meters with JSB Exact RS pellets. So, that was the pellet I tested, but at 25 yards.

Pay attention!
At 25 yards, I got several groups that had a bunch of shots close together and then some fliers. But one group stood apart as extraordinary. Seven of the 10 shots were in an extremely small group, and 3 others were huge fliers. This was what I had been looking for. When you see something like this, it tells you the rifle wants to shoot, but something is interfering intermittently.

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 25-yard target
The group at the top left with the one shot that isn’t quite touching is 7 shots from 25 yards. That’s a 0.439-inch group. The other 3 holes are fliers shot at the same time. This is a clear indication of a problem.

I looked down through the muzzlebrake with a powerful flashlight and saw the real barrel muzzle deep inside. It appeared very rough, plus I could see bright bits of lead clinging to the inside rear edge of the muzzlebrake. I showed this to Edith, and she confirmed what I was seeing.

Apparently, the crown of the muzzle of my rifle was uneven and was causing pellets to wobble just a tiny bit when they left the barrel. A few of them were hitting the inside rear edge of the muzzlebrake, causing them to destabilize in a big way. Those were the random fliers I was seeing.

I communicated this to Pyramyd Air. Gene, the tech manager, took apart an M12 to look at the crown. He said it looked rough to him, as well. He crowned it and sent me the barrel to exchange with the barrel in my rifle.

The barrel Gene sent is .22 caliber, while my rifle is .177, but that makes no difference. One barrel works as well as another, as they’re the same size on the outside. I followed Gene’s instructions and switched barrels in 15 minutes. I didn’t have to disassemble the rifle because of how it’s made.

Once I got the original barrel out of the gun, I could see that the muzzle wasn’t as rough as I’d thought. I had seen grease on the end of the muzzle when I looked down inside, and it looked like rough metal to me. The muzzle is finished rather well, but the actual crown, which is a chamfer cut into the bore, is cut on an angle rather than perpendicular with the bore. It allows compressed air to escape the muzzle on one side of the pellet before the other.

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 177 muzzle
The muzzle of the .177-caliber barrel that came in the rifle was crowned lopsided. The chamfer appears narrow at the bottom of the muzzle. That’s not an optical illusion — it really does grow narrow there!

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 22 muzzle
It may be hard to see in this photo, but this crown is even all around the bore. This is the .22-caliber barrel sent to me by Pyramyd Air.

Following the assembly of the barrel to the rifle, I remounted the scope and proceeded to start my sight-in. I decided to test the .22 barrel with JSB Exact RS pellets, as well. One shot at 10 feet was all it took…and I was on target. Two more shots at 10 meters and I was sighted-in. Next, I shot a 10-shot group. The rifle behaved very stable and did not appear to throw any wild shots.

The 10-meter group I shot was consistent, if not terribly small. But the lack of fliers, even at 10 meters, gives me hope that the crowning of the barrel has solved the problem.

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 10-meter target
Ten shots at 10 meters gave me this group with the recrowned .22-caliber barrel. This gives me hope that the problem has been fixed.

Test is not finished.
By no means is this report finished. I still need to shoot several groups at 25 yards to see what the M12 can really do. I have no idea what the best .22-caliber pellet might be. After rereading the first two parts of this report, I see that I very much liked the way the gun handles. That’s still true. It lacks the two-bladed Mendoza trigger — and that’s a shame, but the trigger it has isn’t that bad. Obviously, I’m able to use it.

I now have both a .22-caliber barrel and a .177-caliber barrel that fit on the same powerplant. If I can hold onto them both, I may be able to get a little more milage from this gun. First, I could do a redneck crowning job on the .177 barrel and report how well that works.

Next, I could test the .22 barrel for velocity and then swap barrels and retest the .177 barrel to get a comparison between calibers from the same gun. I’ve always been able to do that with my Whiscombe, of course, but this is more of a real-world air rifle to which many can relate.

I know there are several shooters who wanted the M12 to be a great buy, and my early tests didn’t bear that out. If they’ve continued to follow this blog, they’ll get the chance to see how the story ends!

Air Venturi Tech Force M12 combo: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Air Ventury Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle
The new Tech Force M12 breakbarrel is a new midrange springer from Air Venturi.

I usually have a handle on the gun by the time Part 4 rolls around. But, today, I’m still stymied by the Tech Force M12 breakbarrel. I’ll tell you all I’ve done to make sure this rifle is on the beam; but when I tell you my results, I think you’ll see I’m not there yet.

Big droop!
I discovered in Part 3 that the M12 I’m testing is a big drooper. That means it shoots very low relative to where the scope is looking. For today’s test, I installed a B-Square adjustable scope mount that has a huge downward angle to bring the point of impact back up to the aim point. It worked well enough for the test, so I proceeded to shoot several different types of pellets — trying all kinds of hand holds and even resting the rifle directly on the sandbag.

Here’s a list of the pellets I tried: (10-shot groups with each)
Beeman Kodiaks
Beeman Kodiak Hollowpoints
RWS Superdomes
Crosman Premier 10.5-grain
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
JSB Exact RS
JSB Exact 8.4-grain
JSB Exact 10.3-grain
RWS Hobby
Beeman Trophy (an obsolete domed pellet)
Eley Wasp (an obsolete domed pellet)

Best pellet
With most of these pellets, the rifle teased me with several pellets in the same hole — but a 10-shot group that was 1.5 inches and larger. A couple were all over the place and simply would not group at all. The Hobbys were probably the worst.

Only one pellet put 10 shots into 1.038 inches at 25 yards. Those were RWS Superdomes, and the hold was with my off hand back by the triggerguard, leaving the rifle very muzzle-heavy. The rifle was somewhat twitchy but not overly so.

Air Venturi Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle group of RWS Superdomes
This is the best group I shot in the test from 25 yards. It’s 10 RWS Superdomes, and the rifle is rested with my off hand touching the triggerguard.

The encouraging thing about this group is that I didn’t have to use a lot of technique to shoot it. I know it isn’t as tight as others I’ve shot at the same distance, and you’ll compare it to them, but I compared it to the other groups I was getting with this rifle. In that comparison, this was the best one and it was also relatively easy to shoot.

What all did I do?
For the record, here’s a list of all the things I tried to get the M12 to shoot.

Cleaned the barrel
Tightened the stock screws (they were tight)
Installed a drooper mount with a lot of down angle
Tightened the scope mount screws (and they were loose on the B-Square adjustable mount!)

Tried resting the forearm of the rifle:
On my open palm in front of the triggerguard
On my open palm under the cocking slot
Directly on the sandbag

Tried shaking the barrel to test the breech lockup (it is tight)
Tried extra relaxation with the artillery hold — which worked for a few shots, but never more than four
Tried attaching an extra weight to the barrel during each shot (with a large magnet)

So, where are we in this test?
I still think the M12 can shoot because there’s evidence of it wanting to stack its pellets. It might be that this is a rifle that needs more than a thousand shots to break in. I’ve owned a few of those. The Beeman C1 from Webley that I used to own was such a rifle. At first it was a royal beast; but as the shot count passed 2,000, the rifle began smoothing out and transforming into something very delightful to shoot. By 4,000 shots, the trigger was very nice and the gun had no vibration to speak of. It was this very rifle that caused me to give the artillery hold its name, and I wrote the first article I ever wrote about airguns for Dr. Beeman. He didn’t respond to my submission, so I saved it and eventually wrote it up in The Airgun Letter.

I wonder if this M12 needs that kind of break-in? That’s something I haven’t done in a good many years because it takes so much of my time. But it might be interesting to see if the rifle responds to a long-term break-in. I think I’ve certainly shoot 250-300 shots at this point, because I also tested the gun at 10 meters and one time at 25 yards (it wasn’t reported). Maybe I’ll rack up some more shots to see how that affects a longer-term break-in.

Air Venturi Tech Force M12 combo: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Air Ventury Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle
The new Tech Force M12 breakbarrel is a midrange springer from Air Venturi.

Today, we’ll learn an important lesson in spring-gun management. This report was supposed to happen yesterday, but the rifle wasn’t cooperating — and I had to spend an extra day testing it. I’ll explain what haoppened and tell you what I did to fix it. It was simple, and the results are astounding. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

As you know, I elected to test the .177-caliber Tech Force M12 4-12x40AO air rifle combo. I chose the package that came without the illuminated reticle but with the best scope.

I mounted the scope with no difficulties. The two-piece rings went on the rails easily and the rifle’s end cap was used to block the rear ring from moving during shooting. I can tell you at this point that you have nothing to fear using the cap this way. The end cap holds the ring positively and doesn’t seem to move.

Trouble in paradise!
But at 25 yards, I found I had difficulty shooting a group that was reasonable. The best I managed to do was 10 shots in an inch and a half, but I also had some that went two inches. It was discouraging, to say the least. I sat back and examined the groups to see what could be learned.

And one thing popped out. Each group of 10 was actually two very tight groups of pellets. There was enough dispersion that at first they just looked like a large group; but since I’d seen every shot go through the target and I remembered them going from one side to the other, I was able to see that there were actually two separate groups. And you know what that means, don’t you?

Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Let’s say a new reader wrote a comment and complained about the lack of accuracy in his new rifle. We might have to go back and forth several times before he mentioned that there are really two smaller sub-groups in the one group he shoots. But that would be the key that triggers a response.

Many of you would advise this reader to remove the scope from his gun and shoot a group with open sights. That’s what I would do. Only in the case of this rifle, there are no open sights. What do you do then?

There is a “secret.” It really isn’t a secret; but from experience, I’ve found that only a few people know about it.

The secret is this: When you get multiple groups like this, the problem is usually caused by a floating erector tube inside the scope, assuming that all the mounting screws are tight. And in this case, I checked them and all were tight. The stock screws were also tight. So the erector tube is the suspect. The thing that sets it up to move like that is when the scope is adjusted up too high or too far to the right, so the erector tube spring (the spring that pushes against both adjustment knobs) has relaxed to the point that the tube can move. It’s a common fault when using a scope, and I’ve been seeing it more and more often with firearms, too.

What I would tell a new reader is to crank a LOT of down elevation (at least 60 clicks — more is better) into his scope and shoot a group. I don’t care that the pellet is now striking the target low. What I care about is the size and shape of the group. That’s exactly what I did. I cranked in 5 or 6 full rotations of down elevation into the scope.

10-meter testing
Because the rifle was now shooting very low, I decided to test the rifle at 10 meters just to keep the shots on the paper. I’m not going to tell you the pellets that were tried at 25 yards because what follows explains why they were not tested fairly.

The first pellet I tried in this experiment was the 10.3-grain JSB Exact dome. Inside of 3 shots, I knew I’d found the problem and was fixing it. The 10-shot group I got is not that small for just 10 meters, but it was relatively easy to shoot, meaning that I did not have to use more than the usual amount of artillery hold technique.

Air Venturi Tech Force breakbarrel air rifle 10 meter group JSB Exact 16 grain pellets
While this isn’t exactly a splendid group, it was easy to shoot. Notice the fact that there are still two groups! This group of 10.3-grain JSB Exact dome measures 0.557 inches between centers.

Next, I tried Crosman Premier heavies, thinking that the rifle was going to lay them in no matter what it was fed. But not this time. When 4 shots gave me almost 1.5 inches, I stopped! Clearly, this 10.5-grain dome is not the pellet for the M12.

Then, I tried a pellet that has never worked in any test I’ve done. The Beeman Trophy pellets I have are so old that they come in the old-style Beeman tin. But, I thought, what the heck — this is just a test. Let’s see what they can do. And, of course, they were stunning. Ten made a group that measures 0.458 inches, but 8 of those 10 shots made a 0.253-inch group that’s very round and encouraging.

Air Venturi Tech Force breakbarrel air rifle 10 meter group Beeman Trophy pellets
Ten shots are in 0.458 inches, but 8 are in 0.253 inches. This is a pellet to test at 25 yards.

Not only did the Trophy pellet make a nice round group, it also required very little special shooting technique. The gun felt like it was in the zone with this pellet.

The scope
I have to say this 4-12x40AO Tech Force scope that came with the rifle is a pretty nice optic for being included in a combo package. It focuses clearly and seems bright enough for general use. Once I found the problem, this scope performed as well as any scope would under similar circumstances. If you plan to purchase an M12, I would recommend getting it the way you see here.

Where are we with the Tech Force M12?
Obviously, I haven’t finished the test of the M12. I still need to shoot the rifle at 25 yards to see how well it does. And I know the groups are going to be larger than what you see here. Before I do that, I need to mount this scope in a good drooper mount so I can get the gun shooting to the point of aim, again.

Today’s report is a valuable lesson in what to do when you’re having problems getting a scope to work. The diagnostic for this is when the rifle wants to shoot several groups that are each respectable; but when taken together, they’re too large. In the situation I’ve shown here, we didn’t know if the problem was the rifle, the scope or something else. By dialing in a lot of down elevation and sometimes some left elevation, we put tension on the erector tube springs, taking them out of the equation. If the gun then shoots well, as this M12 clearly did, then you know you have a droop problem that’s easy to solve.

Bending airgun barrels: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

A couple weeks back, we talked about straightening bent airgun barrels to improve accuracy. We want to do that so we can hit targets with the sights that were installed. There is, however, another reason for bending barrels. Some guns have sights that do not coincide with where their barrels are pointing, even when they’re not bent. For this situation, we also need a fix.

Many guns have replacement rear sights. I own a BSF S70 breakbarrel rifle that has a Williams peep sight that was either installed by Air Rifle Headquarters (the original company in Grantsville, West Virginia) or was a sight they sold for owners to mount. ARH did inform the customers of the necessity for the rear sight to have a complimentary taller front sight installed, and on my rifle that didn’t happen. I think this was an owner-installed sight that they probably hated ever since.

This is the problem I’m faced with.

The special Williams peep sight is low and fits the rifle well. It looks good, and I want to keep it.

I like the vintage look of the original front sight. Bending the barrel is the only solution!

In either case, the rear sight cannot be adjusted low enough for the rifle to strike the target at 10 meters. Since 10 meters is such a common shooting distance for an air rifle, this is not handy. The other possibility would be to raise the front sight higher, but I don’t want to do that. I happen to like the look of the front sight that’s there and want to leave it as installed. My only option is to bend the barrel.

Several blog readers, including Kevin Lentz, commented on having bent many airgun barrels and how easy it is to do. My buddy Mac has also bent a number of airgun barrels to get them on target.

While a barrel may be bent in any direction, up is by far the most common direction you’ll have to go since the majority of breakbarrel rifles shoot a little low. The second most common direction is down, which is what I need to do to fix the kind of problem I have.

I was in my reading room a few days after that; and from the pile of literature lying on the sink, I picked up the 2000 Edition of The Gun Digest and stumbled across an article by Todd G. Lofgren titled, Sighting In Single-Actions. The author describes, shows and tests the results of bending the barrels of numerous Colt Single Action Army revolvers to get them to shoot to the point of aim at 25 yards. He knew that the traditional way of doing this is to either file down or add to the front sight for height and to bend it (the front sight blade) in the direction opposite of where he wanted the bullet to go, but that didn’t appeal to him. He built a jig and used a 12-1/2 ton hydraulic press to actually bend the barrel in the direction the bullet needed to go.

He fixed guns that were off in all ways, but by far the most common directions were to the left and low. And then he shot three groups at 25 yards to prove the guns now shot to their point of aim. Before bending each barrel, the extractor housing was removed; and in every case, it was installed after the bend without a problem, thus proving that the bend itself was only a very small distance.

Lofgren commented that the first-generation Colt barrels are easier to bend than the barrels of guns made today. That means their metal is softer and more ductile, and lends itself to slight deformation better than barrels made from harder steel. That bodes well for airguns, because they’re also still being made of soft steel that should deform easily.

Lofgren also happened to favor the short 4-3/4 inch barrels, and all of the guns shown in his pictures have barrels of that length. Compared to that, bending a 12-inch or longer air rifle barrel made from thinner steel stock should be a piece of cake!

While he uses a hydraulic press to bend his barrels, I think that bending an air rifle barrel that’s sitting between two blocks 12 inches apart will be easy enough to do with a common screw like the kind found on a C-clamp. If the jig is constructed correctly, it should be possible to control the amount of pressure very precisely, which is desirable for collectors who don’t want to ruin their fine guns.

What about guns with fixed barrels?
It should be possible to bend guns that have fixed barrels, as well, provided the barrels are solid. This process will not work on barrels inside jackets or shrouds, which lets out many airguns of modern design.

Don’t over-think this!
Some readers might think this operation through and wonder if bending the barrel in the direction you want the pellet to move is correct. If you bend the barrel, you also move the front sight — and we know that the front sight is supposed to be moved in the opposite direction that you want to pellet to move. But Lofgren cautions his readers not to over-think this and just bend the barrel as they want the strike of the round to move. It’ll work out perfectly that way.

This fixes bent barrels, too
The initial reason for bending barrels was to straighten them after they’re bent from an accident or from their manufacture — not because they weren’t hitting where the sights are aiming. But one bend is the same as the other. It’ll work for both problems — I guess. At any rate, seeing a man bending the barrels of collectible first-generation Colt revolvers and getting the results he was after has given me the courage to try the same thing on this air rifle.

The next step is to damage a spring-piston barrel and then try to bend it straight again. If I can do that, then bending the S70 barrel shouldn’t prove too difficult. In the process, I hope to construct a simple low-cost barrel-bending fixture that will serve all my future needs. It should be a fun experiment!