Umarex Air Javelin airbow: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Umarex Air Javelin
The Air Javelin from Umarex.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Quick review
  • More arrows
  • Setup
  • Sight in
  • At 10 meters
  • At 20 meters
  • Raise the sight
  • Summary

Today I shoot the Umarex Air Javelin at 20 meters with a dot sight that has been sighted in. You finally get to see the sort of accuracy that I saw at the SHOT Show in January. The range there was set up for about 25 yards and it seemed like the arrows all went to nearly the same place! You will see that today.

Quick review

Part 4 was a test with a dot sight too, but I also tested the Umarex CO2 adaptor that allows you to use two 12-gram CO2 cartridges. Unfortunately the Tasco Pro Point dot sight I used for that test could not achieve the elevation that was needed to hit the target at 20 meters. I also shot wide of the target bag when I shot an arrow that had been damaged in the rear from a Robin Hood. I didn’t know it was damaged until I pulled it from the fence and examined its base.

The adaptor only gave me 8 powerful shots. A reader told me that he gets 12 powerful shots. He asked me to check the ends of both cartridges to make sure both had been pierced. I did and both had been pierced for sure. I learned years ago when using multiple CO2 cartridges to back off on the piercing screw to allow the gas to push the bottom cartridge up away from the piercing pin and flow better. 

The same reader also said that the holes in the CO2 cap are to allow the gas to exhaust the end of the run, and indeed that is correct. However, I discovered that the adaptor was stuck in the gun after shooting until I inserted an Allen wrench into one of the holes to break it free — so what I said about using the hole for that purpose also applies.

More arrows

In Part 4 I lost one of the three arrows that came with the AJ and a second one was damaged by another arrow hitting its rear in a Robin Hood shot. So I emailed Umarex and asked for a couple more arrows to continue testing and by the end of the week they had sent me six. Those arrows made today’s test possible. With the one arrow I have that gives me 7 to test.

Setup

For this test I installed a fresh 88-gram CO2 cartridge in the AJ. I didn’t want anything to spoil the test. I also switched from the Tasco Pro Point red dot sight to a UTG Reflex Micro green dot. I knew from experience that this sight has a wide range of adjustments, which the AJ I’m testing needs.

Air Javelin UTG dot
I mounted the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight forward on the AJ.

Sight in

I learned a valuable lesson last time. Always sight the AJ in at close range after installing an optical sight, or you may miss the target bag altogether. This time I started at 5 meters. The arrow hit high enough but to the left of the bull. I adjusted the sight to the right for the second shot and it  landed inside the bull about an inch away at the same height. That was enough for me, so I took the target bag out to 10 meters and shot again.

At 10 meters

This time the arrow landed at the bottom center of the bull. A second shot hit next to the first one. Neither arrow was damaged, bit I learned that 10 meters is too close to sight in. We don’t mind pellets going into the same holes when we shoot, but with arrows it’s a completely different story.

Maybe the lesson should be expanded to pull each arrow as it’s shot when you are sighting in.  The centers of these two arrows are 1/2-inch apart. But I didn’t pull them out of the bag.

Air Javelin sight 10m
From 10 meters the Air Javelin put two arrows within a half-inch of each other.

At 20 meters

Now I moved the target bag out to 20 meters and fired again. This time the arrow hit about an inch and a half lower and maybe an inch to the right of the two shots at 10 meters. I left all three of these arrows in the bag., I expected the arrow to drop at 20 meters, but the sight should be able to compensate for it.

Raise the sight

I adjusted the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight up by 11 clicks. I didn’t know exactly what that would do at 20 meters, but I do know that the clicks move the point of impact quickly with this sight.

The first shot hit inside the bull and slightly above the centerline. It was almost straight up from the previous arrow that had been fired. Through dumb luck I had adjusted the sight up by the correct amount. I bow hoped to shoot a group of several arrows for you, but then a bad thing happened.

The second shot at 20 meters was a Robin Hood that damaged the back of the arrow shot just before. Okay — even 20 meters is too close to shoot the AJ without pulling the arrows after every shot! I need to move the target bag out to at least 35 yards before I test the Air Javelin again. And, I am writing this reminder to myself for that test. Put three clicks of left adjustment into the sight and then pull each arrow as it is shot at 35-40 yards!

Air Javelin 20m
Here are all the arrows shot at 10 and 20 meters. Even with the sight adjustments and the different distances , the centers of these arrows are just 3-inches apart.

Air Javelin target
This is the target paper with all the arrows removed. The two holes on the left are the 5-meter sight-in. The two holes at the bottom of the bull were the next two that were shot at 10 meters. The bag went out to 20 meters and then I shot the lowest hole on the target. The sight then went up by 11 clicks and I shot shot the two holes at the top right at 20 meters.

Rather than waste arrows I plan to shoot another test at a longer distance. I will probably also pull the arrows as I go. 

Summary

I now have 6 good arrows left — one of the three that came with the AJ and five of the six that Umarex sent me to continue this test. It’s obvious that I have to be very careful because the AJ wants to put all the arrows into the same place. This accuracy is very equivalent to what we saw with the Sub-1 crossbow at close range. But the AJ is well over a thousand dollars cheaper.


Umarex Air Javelin airbow: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Umarex Air Javelin
The Air Javelin from Umarex.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • However
  • The “barrel”
  • Not a toy!
  • Sights
  • Front sight
  • Rear sight
  • Adjust the stock
  • Install the cocking handle
  • Charging
  • One fact to bear in mind
  • Summary

At least one of you readers is really interested in the Umarex Air Javelin, just as I am, so today is Part 2. However, because this is an arrow launcher, this Part 2 will be a little different. I normally test velocity in Part 2, but the Air Javelin is better tested outdoors for that and today the temperature here in sunny Texas is 36 degrees, F. Yes, we have bright sunshine and the temp is supposed to rise to 62 late this afternoon, but my testing and photography work gets done in the morning, so the cold is hampering me.

However

That doesn’t mean I can’t shoot the Air Javelin (hereafter called the AJ) indoors. In fact, by shooting it indoors I will get a really good idea of how loud the report is. Remember that I could not hear it when I shot it at Industry Day at the Range in January. I’m making this report up as we go, so let’s get going!

The “barrel”

Several readers were inventing new universes for the AJ to inhabit. Like, what if a pellet could also be loaded into the hollow air tube the arrow fits over? Let’s look at that now.

Air Javelin barrel
This is the hollow air tube the arrow fits over. The CO2 gas comes up that tube to propel the arrow.

The gas tube/barrel is permanently attached at its base to the source of CO2 gas. Of course it is not really permanent, but it cannot conveniently be removed to insert a pellet — even if it was the right size inside. While such a feature is possible and even has been done by other manufacturers — nobody on the planet right now other than Umarex is offering an arrow shooter like the AJ for only $169.99.

Not a toy!

The AJ comes with a hang tag on the triggerguard that tells you it is not a toy. Believe it! I just hope that new airgunners won’t look at the arrow velocities that are displayed on the box at just over 300 f.p.s. and think, no big deal. Because a 170-grain arrow traveling at that velocity can do serious damage to tissue, and can kill! I said in Part 1 that you could take a deer with the AJ if you keep the distance reasonable, and the under 60-yard distance that I stated is about where most bow hunters take deer. There are powerful crossbows that can reach out farther and I’m sure a skilled longbow shooter can also do it, but hunters should always try to take their shot as close as possible — and that goes for airgun and firearm hunters as well. Let’s give the AJ the respect it deserves.

Sights

The AJ comes with what firearms shooters call back-up iron sights, or BUIS for short. They are not really metallic; that’s just a name they are given. You readers know that BB likes shooting with non-optical sights, so I will test them first. Before testing with them, they must first be mounted.

Front sight

The front sight attaches via an Allen screw that’s screwed down onto the Picatinny rail. First you slide the front sight onto the rail, which is easy, because the fixed sight dovetail is larger than the dovetail on the Picatinny rail.

Air Javelin front sight
The front sight attaches with an Allen screw.

Air Javelin front sight bottom
This is the underside of the front sight. On the right you can see the end of the Allen screw that presses against the Picatinny rail.

Air Javelin front rail
This is the front of the Picatinny rail where the front sight slips on the gun.

When the locking screw makes contact with the rail it pushes the dovetails on the bottom of the sight up to jam against the rail. It’s straightforward except for one detail. The screw has to make contact with the rail to do its job. Remember that a Picatinny rail has deep 5mm-wide slots spaced at regular intervals to hold accessories. The end of the Allen screw needs to press against one of the risers between the slots and not fall into a slot!

Air Javelin front sight on
Here you see the front sight on the airgun. The Allen screw that is in the rear of the sight is aligned with and pressing against the first riser on the Picatinny rail. Note that the rear of the sight is slightly elevated. Positioning it like this aligns the front of the sight with the front of the rail.

Rear sight

The rear sight attaches to the Picatinny rail and not to the long flat spot at the rear of the rail. The screw that tightens the movable jaw at the bottom of the rear sight base is also the crossbar that interlocks with a slot in the Picatinny rail.

Air Javelin rear sight underside
Here you see the cross screw that is under the rear sight. It draws the movable jaw tight and it also bears against a ridge in the Picatinny rail to keep the sight from moving.

The sight will not attach to the long flat spot at the rear of the rail because that cross screw gets in the way. But it will attach to the first slot in the rail, and since this is a peep sight we want it as close to our sighting eye as possible. So the last slot is where it goes.

Air Javelin rear sight mounted
The rear sight is mounted with the cross screw passing through the first slot in the rail. This is as far back as the sight will go. The sight is tightened to the rail by that large knurled knob.

Adjust the stock

Once the rear sight is mounted you can adjust the stock. I told you in Part 1 that there are 5 stops in the stock, but this time I pulled the rear part of the stock off and saw there are actually 6 holes for locking it. The last hole for adjusting the stock as long as possible is very hard to feel when the pin clicks in. 

I found that I needed the stock set in the first click back to see through the rear peep sight correctly. The length of pull is set at 14 inches on the nose. My sighting eye only sees a faint outline of the peep hole this way.

Air Javelin peep
The peep hole is sized just right, from what I can tell so far.

Looking through the peep, the front sight looks huge! I can see that my traditional target-type sight picture will be no good. This sight screams center of mass. It’s like a non-optical dot sight — and a big one, at that!

Air Javelin front fiber
The orange fiberoptic up front looks as large as the side of a barn! I will have to abandon my target-type sight picture and shoot for the center of mass with this one!

Install the cocking handle

The AJ is ambidextrous. The cocking handle will go on either side of the rifle. For this feature Umarex gets the Golden BB award for innovation! Remember — this is a $170 arrow launcher! How easy it would have been for the designers to figure they had already given buyers enough, just by the low price. Many companies would do that, but Umarex saw a way to add functionality cheaply and they did! Go back to my, “What makes an airgun ‘good’?” report, because this is a shining example! This is how it is done.

I held the AJ to my shoulder and pantomimed operating it to decide that I wanted the cocking handle on the right side. It’s slightly easier for me to cock that way and, since I have to take the gun down from my shoulder to load an arrow anyway, it isn’t an inconvenience. If this was a pellet rifle, I might have chosen the other side.

Air Javelin bolt right
On the right side of the AJ receiver you see the bolt with the screw hole for the cocking knob half-hidden by the receiver. It’s on the right side of the long cocking slot.

Air Javelin bolt left
Here is the view of the bolt from the left side of the receiver. Again the screw hole is half-hidden.

I used a ballpoint pen in the hole on the left side of the receiver to pull the bolt back so I could attach the handle on the right side. The spring tension is light and this is easy to do. Then screw the cocking handle all the way in. It has a shoulder that prevents the large handle from contacting the side of the cocking hole.

Air Javelin bolt top
This top-down view shows what the cocking handle looks like when it’s attached.

Charging

I spent a lot of time today showing you the setup. The manual covers all the same areas, but the instructions fall short of the things I have shown and discussed. Now it’s time to charge the airgun with an 88-gram CO2 cartridge (which you all know can also be a 90-gram cartridge).

Start with an uncocked gun. The forearm is unlocked by a square pushbutton on the right side of the receiver. Then slide the forearm forward for clearance. I would put 5 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil into the place where the cartridge screws in every time I install a new cartridge.

Air Javelin cartridge
Slide the forearm forward and screw the CO2 cartridge into the AJ. I recommend Crosman Pellgunoil on every cartridge.

One fact to bear in mind

Once the CO2 cartridge is installed and pierced there is no way to remove it without exhausting all the gas. The manual says to not store the gun with a cartridge installed. I don’t think they mean overnight, but if you are putting the gun away for a time, remove the cartridge.

The manual also says there may be some hissing and loss of gas as the cartridge is being screwed in. I experienced that. Once the cartridge stops turning freely, get set to screw it in as far as you can with a single turn of the hand. Even then you might have to get a second grasp to complete the motion. The gas will stop abruptly when the cartridge is sealed.

Would a shutoff valve at this location be desirable? Certainly. How would they do it? Given the way the AJ is designed at present, it wouldn’t be easy. Bear in mind that the design of the gun is for slimness and convenient handling., I think I will take that over saving some of the gas. Remember, there will not be that many shots, even from this giant cartridge. 

Air Javelin 1077 AS
The Crosman 1077 AirSource had a valve to stop the flow of gas from the 88-gram CO2 cartridge. See how clunky it was!

Summary

I spent my morning setting up the AJ to shoot. She’s now got sights, a cocking handle and is charged with CO2. It’s 12:30 p.m. and it’s still just 54 degrees outside. Next week, cold or not, I will shoot it for you. Time for me upload, edit and schedule this report.

This report will go differently than others have, because of what I’m testing. But we will still get to know the Air Javelin as well as we possibly can.


Sig Sauer P365 air pistol: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig P365
Sig Sauer P365 BB pistol.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • The first shot
  • Sig BBs
  • Discussion
  • New CO2 cartridge
  • Crosman Black Widow BBs
  • What I’m up against
  • The trigger
  • Dust Devil BBs
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the Sig P365 BB pistol. So far this gun has been performing as it should. I just hope it will stay on the paper at 5 meters. There are two reasons I say that. First, with guns that have a short barrel, ANY movement of the gun/barrel causes large movements of the shots downrange. Short-barreled handguns are just as accurate as handguns with long barrels — they are just harder to shoot accurately. And second, with a sight radius (distance between the font and rear sight) of just a few inches, ANY amount the sights are off will be exaggerated downrange.

The test

I shot from a UTG Monopod rest at 5 meters, the same as with any BB gun. I debated how best to hold the gun and decided on a two-hand hold with the bottom forward portion of the frame resting on the monopod rubber sling. Except for the first shot, all others were shot that way.

I shot 10-shot groups because the P365 is semiautomatic. That didn’t make it easy, just easi-ER.

The first shot

Given the shortness of the barrel I was really concerned about missing the BB trap altogether, so I loaded 11 BBs and fired the first shot from ten feet. I used a two-hand hold and my hands were resting on the foot-rail of my bed.

I held a 6 o’clock hold on the black bull and the BB hit the paper 1.7 inches below the center of the bull and 0.9-inches to the left. Given that I am human, I thought that was close enough. So I backed up to 5 meters and fired 10 more times.

Sig BBs

The first BBs I shot were the ones Sig provided with the pistol. I got an 11-shot group that measures 3.217-inches between centers. The center of the group is 2.4-inches below the center of the bull and 0.8-inches to the left of center. The first shot from 10 feet is inside the group, though not centered.

Sig P365 Sig BB group
The P365 put 11 of the Sig BBs into 3.217-inches at 5 meters.  I marked that first shot from 10 feet.

Discussion

Don’t think this is a bad group! I am dealing with both those issues I mentioned earlier — a short barrel and a short sight radius. Instead, I draw your attention to the group of 4 shots at the bottom, under the BB. This P365 pistol has ULTRA-CRISP sights, front and rear! When I do my very best this is what happens. The problem is, it is difficult to maintain that level of concentration. I actually watched that little hole grow, shot by shot.

What you are seeing in this target is 3 shots plus the first shot up high and then the final 7 shots on the bottom, when I settled down. What this really is, is a (lower) group that is very horizontal — once I got my act together.

New CO2 cartridge

I loaded 10 Crosman Black Widow BBs next. I selected them because, of all the premium steel BBs on the market right now, I am having the most consistent success with them. After the first 4 shots, though, I noticed the power was dropping off. The gun was running out of gas. Since I tested it in Part 3 and know that it runs out of gas very quickly at the end of the cartridge, I knew that the first group of SIG BBs was okay. But it was time to change the CO2 cartridge.

I also know that the first 3-4 shots from a new cartridge will have some liquid in them and will be much faster than the 45 shots that follow. Since this is an accuracy test, I blank-fired the gun 5 times with the fresh cartridge before loading 10 more Black Widow BBs.

Crosman Black Widow BBs

Because the Sig BBs hit low on the paper with a conventional 6 o’clock hold, I raised the front post above the top of the rear notch and still used a 6 o’clock hold that is the most accurate with this type of sight. If that sounds confusing, let me show you what it looks like.

Sig P365  sight picture
This is the sight picture I used for the next 2 groups.

That looks like a difficult sight picture to maintain, so some really good pistol shooters used to have a gold wire inset across the front post to show them the same amount of elevation on every shot. Elmer Keith was famous for it. On some of his sights there were several wires.

Sig P365 Keith sight
Elmer Keith’s front sight was used for distance shooting.

What I’m up against

Now you understand, I hope. Not only do I have to maintain a 6 o’clock hold on the bullseye, I also have to hold the front sight above the top of the rear sight by the same amount each time.

This time with careful aiming I managed to put 10 Crosman Black Widow BBs into 1.96-inches. The group is fairly well centered on the bullseye. I gotta tell you, guys. This group is a combination of me trying real hard and the Black Widow BB being as good as it is.

Sig P365 Black Widow group
Ten Crosman Black Widow BBs made this 1.96-inch group at 5 meters.

The P365 deserves credit, as well, for it functioned properly all the time. Again I remind you how difficult is is to shoot a short-barreled pistol with accuracy. Yet, I can shoot my Sig P365 9mm handgun with astonishing accuracy. Why?

The trigger

The secret behind the accuracy of my 9mm pistol is the trigger. The 9mm trigger is light and very predictable. The BB gun trigger is not that heavy, but I haven’t learned it yet. When I have to keep the bullseye on the tip of the front sight, both sides of the front sight equidistant from the sides of the rear notch, AND keep the front sight at the same height above the top of the rear sight every time, it gets difficult.

The P365 BB gun trigger pull is just a little too heavy, at 5 lbs. 12 oz. for me to do all this. The firearm trigger breaks at 5 lbs. 6 oz, but it’s a very crisp pull that can be anticipated. The BB gun trigger feels similar, just not as predictable — yet. I just shoot better with the firearm. I can’t explain it, other than to say the concentration on the sights needed to get the group up into the bullseye is probably what’s throwing me off.

Dust Devil BBs

Next I loaded and shot 10 of the new Dust Devil BBs. Yes — these are the Mark 2 Dust Devils, but since the box isn’t marked that way, I will just say these are the Dust Devils you get when you buy them today.

Ten Dust Devils went into 3.356-inches at 5 meters. It’s the largest group of the test. I held the gun with the same care as with the Black Widows, but I may have been tiring out.

Sig P365 Dust Devil group
Ten Air Venturi Dust Devils went into 3.356-inches at 5 meters.

Summary

The Sig P365 BB pistol is a remarkable feat of engineering. It is the smallest repeating BB pistol on the market with full blowback. The appearance is an homage to the P365 firearm that is undoubtedly one of the most successful concealed carry arms even built.

If you want realism, this is it! If you want to learn how to use your pistol’s sights, there aren’t many better trainers than this. If feral pop cans have invaded your yard, this’ll get ’em! Just remember — you have to do your part, too.


Crosman’s 160: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.

Today, I’m testing the Crosman 160 for accuracy. This is a target rifle — originally intended for 25-foot ranges, so 10 meters, which is very close to 33 feet, is the distance I shot for this test. And I shot at 10-meter rifle targets. It’s important to remember this rifle is a .22, not a .177, because the larger pellets will influence the overall group size.

The 160 has a post front sight that isn’t as precise as an aperture, but I learned to shoot on a similar sight, so it still works well for me. I’d disassembled the rear aperture sight during cleaning, so when I sighted-in there was a lot of adjusting to get the pellet on target.

I held my eye as close to the aperture as I could get, because my recent experience with both the Ballard and Remington model 37 has taught me that this is the way to get the best accuracy from an aperture sight. The tiny hole made my pupil dilate and the front sight came into sharp focus, as it always should.

I sighted-in with the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome and left the sights there. So, the first group is well-centered and the other pellets are a little bit off.

Remember that wonderful trigger I told you about last time? Well, this is where it came into its own. It is breaking so light that I leave my finger off the blade until the sight picture is correct. Then it’s just touch and “Bang!” It breaks at a pound. I’ve bump-tested the gun several times without a pellet just to see if I could jar it off the sear, and it’s holding fine…but it feels like a precision set trigger. Perhaps, having the overtravel adjustment makes the difference.

Memories!
I remember these 160s as being more accurate than they have a right to be, given their original price, and this one is, too. The first 10 shots went into a group that measures 0.313 inches. The group is very round and gives every indication that the rifle loves this pellet.


Ten JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes made this 0.313-inch group at 10 meters.

Next, I tried the .22-caliber Premiers. Back in the early 1990s, when this pellet first came out, 160 owners discovered their rifles were much more accurate than they had believed. When the 160 was new, it was thought that the best they would do was a quarter-sized group at 25 feet. Now they were shooting into a dime at 33 feet.

This time, the group wasn’t as good as some others I’ve shot. Ten shots measure 0.449 inches between centers. The point of impact shifted to the left a bit, as well.


Ten .22-caliber Premiers made this 0.449-inch group at 10 meters.

I also wanted to try a pellet I’d never used in a 160, so the next pellet was an RWS Superdome. They should do well, being both medium weight and thin-skirted. A thin skirt can be blown out into the rifling by the low pressure of the CO2 gas, which will seal the pellet in the bore quite well.

Before you get excited from looking at these next targets, you need to know that I was interrupted while shooting and as a result I put 5 shots on each target, instead of the 10 on one, as planned. Although this was a mistake, it does illustrate, once again, the difference between the sizes of 5-shot and 10-shot groups.


If you didn’t know there were only 5 shots in this group, you could make up all sorts of claims for the RWS Superdome pellets. The group measures 0.107 inches between centers. This is 10-meter target rifle size — even though it was shot with the larger pellets! But it is only 5 shots.


Five RWS Superdomes measure 0.313 inches between centers. Looks good, but, again, it’s only 5 shots. This group was fired when I noticed the gun was running out of gas.

As I loaded and shot, I reflected on the ease of the bolt’s operation. Opening it requires just the flick of one finger, because you’re not cocking a spring. It’s as quick as pulling back the bolt on a biathlon target rifle. Pushing the bolt forward takes some effort, though, because this is where the hammer spring gets compressed.

The big .22-caliber domed pellets lie in the loading trough and feed without a bobble. Where some guns want to flip pellets around, the 160 feeds them effortlessly every time. I can describe the cocking and loading experience as having an oily smoothness.

Best pellet
Upon examination, I feel the JSB Exact pellet did the best in this test. It put 10 pellets into a group the same size as the final 5 Superdomes made. It would be interesting to shoot another group of Superdomes that were not shot at the end of the gas supply, but I still think the JSBs will turn out better.

Shot count
I noticed on the final 5 shots that the rifle sounded like it was losing power. Since 5 shots were used for sight-in, this rifle has given me 35 good shots on two cartridges. Blog reader Jim in PGH commented that an Archer Hammer Debouncer Device (abbreviated HDD and designed to give the valve stem a dead blow to exhaust gas without valve flutter) installed on a Chinese version of the 167 (a .177-caliber version of the 160) that he owns has increased his shot count to 80. That would be worth looking into, if you decide to go the 160 route.

Where are we?
As I shoot the 160, I cannot help but think of a fine 10-meter target air rifle. Kevin would be proud to shoot one so fine. I think most of you would be impressed with what this gun can do.

This is the last report I have planned for the 160. As I suspected, the owner of this 160 was not too keen about the two CO2 cartridges needed to power his gun, so he sold it to me. I have no plans for it at this time, other than to show it to several firearms shooters to impress them with what an airgun can do. I’m also toying with shooting it at 50 yards, just to see how it does.


Crosman’s 160: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.

Today, I’ll report on the cleaning of Jose’s Crosman 160 and the adjustment of the trigger. This rifle was quite rusty when I got it, so today it came out of the stock for a thorough cleaning. The barreled action comes out of the stock by removing one nut on the bottom of the forearm and by removing the safety switch. To remove the switch, it must be turned toward SAFE while you push it out of the triggerguard. It will pop right out when you get it in the right position.


The broken safety has been pushed out, and the nut removed from the stock. That’s a new safety to the left of the broken one. The barreled action is now ready to come out of the stock.

Once the action was out of the stock, I could see that it was far rustier than I originally thought. The rust that could be seen when the rifle was intact was just surface rust, but the stock was hiding deep active rust that had to be removed.


This was under the stock — heavy, active rust that must be dealt with!

I used Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I bought at a recent gun show. A friend of mine says this pad looks like a stainless steel pot scrubber. All I know is that it removes all the rust and doesn’t harm the blue.


I used Balistol in a spray bottle and a special metal scrubber to remove the rust.

I was surprised at how fast the rust was removed. In all, it probably took no longer than 15 minutes to completely clean all the metal parts.

The trigger
With the gun finally clean, it was time to address the trigger. I mentioned in Part 1 that this trigger is one of the finest ever put on an inexpensive air rifle, and it can be adjusted to a very light, crisp pull. When I got the gun, the single-stage trigger had lots of creep and was breaking at 5 lbs., even. Something had to be done about that.

The Crosman 160 trigger is an adaptation of a 15th century crossbow trigger, where a rotating piece called a nut forms the sear that releases the hammer — in the case of the pellet rifle. The nut is a lever that’s shaped like a circle. It allows a small force (the sear) to overcome a greater force (the hammer spring) through leverage. No filing or stoning of the trigger contact surfaces is necessary, because the trigger doesn’t work like a conventional one.


From Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, “The Crossbow,” (published in 1903) this illustration of a 15th century crossbow nut shows how a great force can be overcome by a smaller one.

But the Crosman 160 trigger is more sophisticated than the crossbow trigger. It allows the adjustment of the sear contact area and also the point at which the trigger stops. This gives the shooter a safe trigger that breaks cleanly, yet feels like an expensive precision target trigger.

The trigger in the subject rifle was about as filthy as I’ve ever seen. This trigger has a sideplate that allows the user to watch the adjustments of the parts and even to cock and fire the trigger with the parts exposed. Normally, this sideplate keeps the parts inside pretty clean, but you can see from the photo what I saw inside this one.


I’ve removed the trigger unit from the action here. It isn’t necessary to do this, and in fact you must be able to cock the rifle when you adjust the trigger, so leave it connected. I did this for cleaning purposes.


Compare this photo to the previous graphic, and you’ll see all the important trigger parts. This is before cleaning. The rusty red part at the upper right is the nut that’s the sear.

I removed the trigger blade from the trigger assembly and cleaned it outside the trigger box, but all other parts were cleaned where they were situated. Ballistol on cotton swabs worked wonders at removing the rust, dust and dirt. And it left all the parts with a lubricated surface.

The two trigger adjustment screws were stuck in place by dried grease, so Ballistol had to dissolve that before I could clean the threads. The final touch was to apply moly grease to the mating surfaces of the trigger blade and the rotating nut that serves as the sear. Then it was time to adjust the trigger.

Trigger adjustment
The first step was to back off the trigger return spring, which is located at the bottom rear of the trigger box. With this spring relaxed, you can feel the engagement of the sear much better.

Next, I adjusted the top screw, which adjusts the trigger/sear contact area. I set it very quickly because I’ve adjusted dozens of these triggers over the years and I know what they need. You may have to adjust the screw then cock the rifle and fire it several times to get the engagement you want. The engagement needed is very narrow, and it looks like the trigger is about to slip off the sear; so I always give the cocked rifle a bump test after adjusting the trigger, just to be safe. If I can’t jar the trigger off the sear, it’s safe.

The final screw to adjust is the trigger stop or overtravel screw. It stops the trigger blade after the sear has released, and the closer this is to the release point without impeding the trigger-pull, the better the trigger feels. Once the engagement area is okay, it’s easy to set this screw to stop the trigger immediately following trigger release.

With that done, I put the cover plate back on the trigger and shifted my attention to the S331 sight. By the way, Robert of Arcade explained in a comment that the S331 sight was actually made by Mossberg and not by Williams, as I originally said in Part 1. I changed the maker to Mossberg in Part 1, and now I’m telling you.

The rear sight on this rifle was loose when I examined it, so I removed it from the rifle and disassembled it for cleaning. Most of the parts are aluminum, but a couple are blued steel and suffered from rust to the point that there were pits left on their surfaces after the rust was removed. The detents are very crisp and easy to feel as you make the adjustments. This is a simple peep sight assembly, but it works very well and adjusts precisely, which is all you can ask of a sight.

Once the sight was clean and back on the rifle, I put the barreled action back into the stock. I had to use the old broken safety switch because the replacement I have is slightly too large to fit the hole. I’ll trim it down in a separate session so the gun has a complete safety switch. For now, I’ll just keep the rifle off safe.

How does it look?
Because the bulk of the deep rust lies below the stock line, the deep pits that appeared from cleaning do not show. What was above the stock line was mostly just surface rust that’s now completely gone. The metal on this rifle now appears to be 80 percent or better. The stock finish is still flaky and needs to be taken down all the way with sandpaper and reapplied, but it doesn’t detract from the rifle’s appearance.

And the trigger?
The trigger now breaks at one pound, even. It’s glass-crisp, and you would swear that it releases at just a couple ounces if you didn’t see the trigger-pull gauge. I think the owner will be amazed at the transformation this rifle has undergone.

Yet to come
I won’t bore you with the other mundane jobs like the safety and the stock finish, but I’ll test this rifle for accuracy. So, there’s one more report yet to come. We already know the velocity is in the right ballpark — 656 f.p.s. for a 14.2-grain Daisy pellet on a 90-degree day. But I want to show you the accuracy these old rifles can give with modern pellets.


Crosman’s 160: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Jacque Ryder is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their airgun facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

Jacque Ryder is this week’s BSOTW.


Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We will watch this one blossom.

I was at the rifle range yesterday, and a friend delivered an air rifle that another friend had asked him to give me. It’s a Crosman 160, and that’s a classic air rifle that I’ve never reported in this blog, so here we go.

History
The Crosman 160 and 167 (.22 caliber and .177 caliber, respectively) was first produced in 1955 and lasted until 1972. There were several variations of the basic model over the years, but most airgunners rank them by their triggers. There was a very simple trigger in the first variation from 1955 through 1959, then Crosman put out a very special variation with a super-adjustable trigger in the guns made after 1959. The gun I’m testing has this wonderful trigger.

At some time in the 1960s, the Air Force bought a large number of 160s that were fitted with a Crosman S331 peep sight (made by Mossberg) and sling swivels that held a one-inch leather sling. As chance would have it, several hundred of these rifles were discovered unused in a government warehouse in Maryland or Virginia in the 1990s, and Edith and I bought one. It was brand new and still contained the original Crosman CO2 cartridges that had been used to test it at the factory. I knew they were original cartridges because they were sealed with the patent-dodging “bottlecap” tops Crosman had to use for several years. The end flap of the box had the Air Force Federal Stock Number for the gun, and everything inside the box was new and untouched.


Still rusty and dusty from long years of storage, the Crosman S331 peep sight is a great addition to this accurate target rifle.

I reported on that 160 in The Airgun Letter several times, but eventually I got rid of the rifle. And until yesterday, that was all I had to do with a Crosman 160.

A shooting friend of mine told me a couple months ago about an airgun he had, and from his description I guessed that it was a 160. Yesterday, he sent it to me so I could examine it and tell him what he has. Jose — I have your rifle, and it’s a Crosman 160!

Yours is the last variation they made, which in all ways is the best 160 model to have. It isn’t a former military model, because they all have sling swivels and your rifle has no evidence of ever having them. But you do have the adjustable trigger and the S331 peep sight.

Your rifle has a lot of surface rust that I’ll remove with Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I’ll show you in the report. I’ll also open the sideplate on your adjustable trigger and clean and adjust it for you. If it’s like the other 160 triggers I’ve adjusted in the past, I should be able to get a glass-crisp trigger-pull of a little less than one pound. I think you’ll be surprised!

Barrel lottery
Back when these air rifles were new, people thought they were only capable of putting 5 shots into a quarter at 25 feet. What we didn’t appreciate back then were the poor pellets we used held us to that level. Once world-class pellets became available in the 1980s, everything changed and these rifles suddenly became capable of putting 10 shots inside a dime at 10 meters. That is — if they had a good barrel.

Crosman made the barrels for the 160s. When they were good, they were very good. But when they were bad, they were horrible! I’ve heard tales of barrels with only half their rifling and even some that had no rifling at all! It isn’t common, but it happened often enough that old Crosman collectors know about it.

Pellgunoil works, again!
I installed two fresh powerlets and a LOT of Crosman Pellegunoil, and the gun held gas. I then fired 5 shots at a 50-yard target, just to see what kind of barrel it had. I got a group of about 5 inches, but it was a windy day and all I was trying to do was see if the barrel was rifled or not. It is. When I shoot it for accuracy, this rifle should do very well.

The safety switch is broken, which means I’ll have to use pliers on it, because it’s key to disassembling the rifle. The good news is that some plastic aftermarket safety switches exist and I may be able to locate one.

Gas-guzzler
The big problem with a 160 is that it uses gas like a Hummer towing a house trailer! Typically, the two CO2 cartridges give about 30-35 good shots before they give out. Since they cost at least 50 cents apiece, a 160 can cost more than a .22 rimfire shooting good ammunition.

The solution is to convert the rifle to bulk-fill operations. That reduces the gas cost per fill to around 5-7 cents per fill. You still get the same number of shots and the same velocity, but the operating cost is much lower. Of course, you have to have all the equipment that’s needed for bulk-fill to do this, and that does cost some money.

Power
Most 160s I’ve tested pushed 14.3-grain pellets out the spout at between 600 and 630 f.p.s. on an 80-deg. F day. It was about 90 when I shot through the chronograph at the range and the 14.2-grain Daisy pointed pellet (very similar to the current Precision Max) went through the Oehler skyscreens at 656 f.p.s. — right on the money! The rifle can be souped up a just a bit, but at the cost of increased gas usage. There’s really no convenient way around that.

By contrast, the Crosman 180 was a single-cartridge rifle that shot a .22-caliber pellet at around 575 f.p.s. and got about 40 good shots per cartridge. It was the favorite of many shooters. But the Air Force obviously didn’t care about how much CO2 they used, and the slightly more powerful 160 also had a better stock, a longer barrel and better sights. It was the obvious choice for a target rifle. I feel the procuring agency must have bought the gun, not so much for its accuracy but more for its much safer operation when compared to a standard .22 rimfire that was the normal target rifle of the time. A pellet rifle range could be set up safely in a gym, where a rimfire range required more safety measures.

General description
The Crosman 160 is a .22-caliber single-shot CO2 rifle. It cocks on closing the bolt. It needs two CO2 cartridges to operate, though it will work with just one at lower velocity and with fewer shots.

The rifle weighs 6 lbs. and is 39-1/2 inches long. The barrel is 21 inches. The pull is 14-1/4 inches.

The rifle is mostly blued steel in a solid wood stock. The metal was not highly polished and I’ve always thought that the wood stock was some very clever kind of laminate, since it shows more grain than I think it should. I will show you the detail and let you be the judge.


The stock sure looks like a laminate to me.

What’s next?
I plan to clean the metal of this rifle and preserve it with Ballistol. I’ll open the sideplate of the trigger and show you the inner workings, then I’ll adjust the trigger to get it working as fine as I can.

Next, I’ll test the rifle for velocity with several pellets. I’ll also get a shot count for you.

Finally, I’ll shoot the rifle for accuracy at 10 meters with several pellets. I’ve examined the barrel, and the bore appears sparkling clean. The rifling is deep and everything looks okay. We should have some fun with this one.

Jose, you have a very nice air rifle, here. I hope you enjoy this report!


Bulk-fill from 12-gram cartridges: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Guy Roush is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card.

Guy’s winning photo.  He says it’s a “great gun and very realistic feel!”

Part 1

Related reports.
Crosman 114 — Part 1
Crosman 114 — Part 2

This report is getting convoluted. I’m reporting a device I found at the 2011 Roanoke Airgun Expo that allows the use of 12-gram CO2 cartridges to fill Crosman bulk-fill guns, but I used the Crosman model 114 rifle that already had two reports from 2009 before it broke and had to be resealed. So, the report is really about how this bulk-fill device operates on a Crosman model 114 rifle, but the performance of the rifle is also being examined.

Confused? Well, I will try to keep it simple from this point. Today, we’ll look at the velocity you can expect from a Crosman 114 when it is filled by this device.


The Crosman 114 is a .22-caliber, single-shot rifle from the early 1950s. The new bulk-fill device allows you to shoot it with minimal additional equipment.

Mike Reames, the inventor of the device, told me the CO2 in a 12-gram cartridge would not transfer entirely to the gun, so I should expect some gas loss when I disconnected it. There was a loss of gas as he said, so one of the things I want to determine is how many shots can be expected when the gun is charged this way.

When the gas and liquid flows into the rifle during charging, the CO2 reservoir cools immediately. That’s caused by the liquid CO2 flashing to gas as it enters the reservoir. When it does, it absorbs some of the heat of its surroundings — in this case, the metal reservoir tube.

One way to maximize the fill is to cool the gun before filling. When the CO2 enters, it encounters cooler surroundings; and when it flashes to gas, the pressure of the gas is lower. Since the CO2 cartridge is warm in comparison, it’ll have higher pressure and will push more gas and liquid into the gun. This is an old bulk-fill trick that I’ll try to see what difference it makes — if any.

Velocity with a regular fill
First, I filled the rifle in the normal fashion (i.e., at room temperature). The first pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier. As I test the gun, you must keep in mind that Rick Willnecker, who resealed it, has a policy that he will only return a vintage airgun to its specified power. While there are other repair stations that will soup up the powerplant, you can expect Rick to repair the gun so it will shoot like it did when it was new.

Crosman Premiers averaged 535 f.p.s. The spread went from 531 to 539 f.p.s., so a tight 8 foot-second spread. I have owned one other 114 that shot the same pellet 15-20 f.p.s. faster, so this is well within the ballpark.

Next, I tried RWS Hobby pellets. They averaged 549 f.p.s., but that number isn’t a good one. Because after only three shots, I could see the power drop in the traditional fall-off that happens after all the CO2 liquid has turned to gas. So, the rifle had come to the end of its useful charge. You can look at it in several ways, depending on what you’re doing with the gun, but there were anywhere from 13 to 20 good shots on a fill. If you were just plinking, that might stretch to 30 shots.

The first three Hobbys went 563, 558 and 558 f.p.s., respectively. The next one dropped to 551, which is still okay; but after that, each successive shot went slower. After shooting the string of 10 Hobbys, I fired a Crosman Premier pellet and got 499 f.p.s., so the rifle is definitely off the power curve.

The fill from a 12-gram cartridge is from 20 to 30 good shots. Compare that to 50-70 good shots that you will get when the gun is filled by a large bulk tank. I’ve always used the 10-oz. Crosman tank, so that’s what I’m using to get this number.

Chill out
It’s time to chill the rifle and check the fill afterward. I placed the rifle in a chest freezer and left it in there for about an hour.

Let me caution you that what I am doing is considered dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I know that the entire contents of a 12-gram CO2 cartridge cannot possibly overfill this rifle’s reservoir; but if I filled the chilled gun from a normal bulk tank, it could easily be overfilled. The consequences of overfilling an airgun like the 114 that has no pressure release device is that if the gun gets too warm, the gas pressure inside can build to the point that the brass reservoir blows apart in a catastrophic failure. That happens because the cold gun accepts too much liquid CO2; and when it warms up, the liquid has nowhere to go. The gun needs space for the liquid to become gas, to relieve the pressure, which is how it normally operates. If you fill at room temperature, the physical properties of CO2 will take care of stopping the fill at the right spot for you; but a chilled gun will continue to accept more liquid than it should.

However, in this case, the quantity of liquid inside a 12-gram cartridge is less than the gun is built to hold, so all that should happen is that more of the liquid goes into the reservoir. The test for that is to see how many good shots we then get from a fill.

After taking the rifle from the freezer, a layer of frost formed on all the metal parts. The fill was far more complete this time, with just a small puff of gas as the device was disconnected. However, the gun was now very cold and would not perform well until it returned to room temperature, so more waiting.

Two hours later, I shot strings with both Premiers and Hobbys. The first string of five Premiers averaged 515 f.p.s., and I thought something had gone wrong. It ranged from 498 to 522 f.p.s. But right after it, I shot the first string of five Hobbys and they averaged 570 f.p.s., which is where they should be. They ranged from 568 to 574 f.p.s. Next was the second string of five Premiers, which averaged 530 f.p.s., so they were now in the ballpark. The range went from 524 to 534 f.p.s. Then a second string of Hobbys averaged 567 f.p.s. with a range from 564 to 571 f.p.s. That’s the first 20 shots from the gun, and all are good except for a couple at the start.

Another string of five Premiers averaged 523 f.p.s., taking the total to 25 good shots on this fill. However, I could see the power tapering off within this string, which ranged from 519 to 528 f.p.s. From that point on, the velocity fell off in a straight line, which indicates the liquid is used up. So, filling this way extracts everything the CO2 cartridge has to give, which is about 25 good shots. If you were just plinking in the yard, there are probably 10 more useful shots in the gun.

The 114 action
When the Crosman 114 was selling new, I was still a kid who knew nothing about genuine bolt-action firearms. If I’d ever seen a 114 back then, I would have thought it was a conventional bolt-action because that’s what it looks like. However, it’s far from conventional.

A bolt-action firearm has lugs to engage the receiver and lock the bolt closed against the thousands of pounds of force the cartridge puts on it. The 114 bolt hasn’t got any lugs. Instead, a single metal stud engages an inclined plane at the rear of the action to push the bolt forward as the handle is turned down. At the front of the bolt, a hemispherical enlargement mates with a socket in the breech. Contact between these two metal surfaces, controlled by how hard the bolt is pushing forward, seals the breech against gas loss.


This 98 Mauser (firearm) bolt has two lugs at the front that pull the bolt forward and lock it to the receiver.


The 114 breech. There’s a lot to see in this picture. First, notice the enlarged bolt face that mates with the breech to seal gas behind the pellet. The pin on the rear of the bolt below the handle fits into a socket with an inclined plane to push the bolt forward tightly. The knurled wheel beneath the bolt is the power adjuster that all these bulk-fill guns have; and note the rear peep sight that I’ll use for the accuracy test.

Trigger
The 114 trigger is single-stage and quite hard in the factory form. That can be altered with careful gunsmithing, but nothing can ever make it a great trigger. The simple design mitigates against it.

The safety is a standard crossblock pin that’s set into the stock. Punch in from the left to put the rifle on safe and from the right for fire. Back in the ’50s, this was a very common type of safety on inexpensive guns.

What’s next?
Now that I know the characteristics of the gun and how many shots I can expect, it’s time to test accuracy. I’ll use the peep sight that came with the rifle for this.

As far as the bulk-fill adapter goes, I have to say that it has fulfilled all expectations. In fact, I’m surprised that it works as well as it does — especially when the gun is cooled first. I don’t know if Pyramyd Air will ever carry it. If you want one, contact Mike Reames directly.