BB’s bag of tricks

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Mahesh from India
  • Good advice
  • Do precharged pneumatics leak down?
  • Do Sheridan Supergrades leak?
  • What have we learned?
  • You don’t need to rebuild your springer!
  • Yes, ATF sealant is a miracle lubricant
  • Summary

I was supposed to do the velocity test of the Umarex Fusion 2 repeater today, but something nudged it out of place. Actually someONE!

I get emails from my Godfather website all the time and the questions are sometimes asked in such a way that I don’t understand them. So I answer something else — and not what the person wanted to know. If these people were blog readers there would be no problem, but they aren’t. So all the stuff that’s obvious to all of you is brand new to them.

Mahesh from India

Blog reader, Mahesh, tried to fill a used Crosman Challenger he had bought with a hand pump and was told by the seller that the hand pump he used — AND GOT 15 SHOTS WITH — was not adequate to fill that airgun. He should use a scuba tank. Guys — if the balloon fills with air it doesn’t matter what puts it in there!

Of course the hand pump is adequate to fill a Challenger PCP! The Challenger was designed to be filled by a hand pump! Either the seller didn’t know what he was talking about, or he knew he had sold a leaky airgun and was intentionally lying. Mahesh also said his airgun leaked down overnight after a fill. Now, if it does that at all (hold the air until it leaks out overnight) it will do it regardless of how the air is put in. I told him to put some silicone chamber oil in the fill port the next time he pumped up the gun and it will eventually hold air. He might have to do it several times, but when the leak takes overnight it’s NOT a bad seal. It’s a dry one. If it leaks out in an hour the seal is bad.

Then somebody on the blog told him he might need to cock the gun to fill it from empty with a hand pump. Thank you for telling him that, but that wasn’t his problem. His problem was his gun leaked down overnight.

Good advice

That piece of advice (cocking a pneumatic before filling with a pump) is good for many precharged pneumatics. Their hammers rest against the end of the valve stem under some spring tension, keeping the valve from sealing completely and allowing air to leak out if they are filled slowly with a hand pump. A scuba tank blasts air in so fast that it shuts the valve against the slight hammer pressure.

Do precharged pneumatics leak down?

Yes and no. Yes, some of them have very slow leaks. I once had a Daystate that leaked down over a week. It was resealed several times to no avail. When that happens the problem is probably not the seals. It’s leaking somewhere else. It can be an imperfection like a small pinhole in one of the metal parts or it can be an imperfection left over from machining. 

On Monday of this week I started a report on the Crosman Challenger PCP — the same rifle that Mahesh is having problems with. The last time I shot this rifle was 11 years ago in 2009, when I wrote a 5-part report about it. After Part 5 of that report, on November 25 of 2009, I set the rifle aside and have not touched it since. It was still holding air when I picked it up again last Friday to start writing the report. PCPs don’t all leak. 

Do Sheridan Supergrades leak?

Everyone should be familiar with the Sheridan Supergrade, which is really the Sheridan model A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle. It’s widely regarded as one of the finest, if not the very finest, multi-pump ever made. And, unless it is cocked, it will not hold air when pumped.

Sheridan Supergrade right
Sheridan’s Supergrade is the Rolls Royce of multi-pumps. It must be cocked before being pumped.

The last time I shot my Supergrade was sometime in June of 2018. That’s over 2 years ago. But when I put it away I filled it with two pumps and then slowly lowered the hammer with the bolt.  Today I cocked the rifle and pulled the trigger. It’s still holding, after all that time. After trying it once I oiled the pump head with Crosman Pellgunoil, cocked the rifle, pumped it twice and slowly lowered the hammer with the bolt. Pneumatics don’t all leak.

What have we learned?

We have learned that leaking is not common for pneumatics — for any of them. When they do leak it isn’t always their seals that are bad. Sometimes they just need to be lubricated so the seals are fresh and pliable. Lubricating the seals is a part of pneumatic maintenance.

We haver learned that some pneumatics have hammers that hold their firing valves open when the guns are uncocked. If these rifles are cocked, the valve can seal and it is possible to fill the reservoir slowly with a hand pump.

You don’t need to rebuild your springer!

I got an email from a guy who wanted to know where the instructions were for rebuilding a certain spring piston breakbarrel air rifle. Why? Well, he bought a new piston seal and wanted to install it. Why? Well — who knows? And that is my point. He probably wanted to do something with the airgun he had, but what did he hope to achieve? If you work on an FWB 124 there is a lot that can be done. If you work on a Wang Po Oompherator XDP, who knows where you are starting, so who knows where you can go?

You don’t need to rebuild every spring-piston airgun, regardless of what you see on You Tube.

“Well, So-and-So said he rebuilt his and he shot a half-inch group at 50 yards with it. I watched his video!”

Guys — did you ever hear of editing? I will not name any names but I remember an episode of American Airgunner in which the big bore we were “testing” leaked so fast that our takes could only be 25 seconds long. We would get set to film, fill the rifle and the instant the fill hose was disconnected and the guy ran out of the frame with the tank we started filming. You can add a lot of loud heavy metal music and quick cuts to that and make it seem like art, instead of the travesty that it is!

If you have to ask me for instructions on how to disassemble a spring-piston air rifle I have one piece of advice for you, “Keepa your hands off!” I share a lot of disassemblies with you in this blog and I know you are curious to see what is inside. But knowing how to shave your head with a straight razor doesn’t make you a brain surgeon! Spring piston airguns seldom need rebuilding when they are just months out of the box. Whatever happened to just breaking them in and learning to shoot them? I remember Gamo rifles that were horrible when new and delightful after 3,000-4,000 rounds had gone through them. I owned a Beeman C1 that I watched through the entire process — from new and stiff to becoming a smooth shooter.

Once a guy asked me to recommend an air rifle to him. I recommended something that was well-made and easy to cock and shoot. A month later he asked me why I didn’t recommend the Beeman Crow Magnum. I knew the guy was 5-feet 6-inches tall and weighed about 130 lbs. I didn’t think he would enjoy a breakbarrel rifle that took 40 percent of his body weight to cock. If you are an expert at reading between the lines, maybe you can figure that one out. I think I know and it rhymes with simoleon.

Yes, ATF sealant is a miracle lubricant

Boy — have I even been ’round the henhouse with this one! Some guy will contact me — afraid he has to have his CO2 rifle repaired and I tell him about automatic transmission fluid sealant. When I do one of three things happens. He blows me off as a whacko and goes in search of some valid technical advice, or he tries it and I never hear from him again because his problem was solved or he tries it and, to his utter amazement — it works! Those guys usually contact me again to let me know that it worked. I knew it would, but I’m glad they let me know. I have reports from a dozen or so success stories, plus several on this blog plus I have fixed 15-20 leaks of my own. 

transmission sealer
This stuff works on pneumatics as well as CO2 guns.

Summary

What this report has really been about is common sense, which my late aunt used to say, isn’t very common. Don’t just shoot your airguns. Maintain them! And don’t feel the need to totally redesign them before you know how they work!


Crosman Challenger PCP 10-meter target rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman Challenger PCP
Crosman Challenger PCP.

History of airguns

Edge Part 1
Edge Part 2
Edge Part 3
Edge Part 4
Edge Part 5
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 1
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 2
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 3
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 4
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 5
AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle: Part 6

This report covers:

  • History — Crosman Challenger 2000
  • CH2000
  • NRA
  • Whaddaya do?
  • Description
  • Trigger
  • Comments???
  • Adjustable power
  • Summary
  • History — Crosman Challenger 2000

I put this report in the historical section because the Crosman Challenger PCP has had a short but interesting history. In the year 2000 Crosman introduced the Challenger 2000. It looked like a target rifle but was not as sophisticated as the rifle we are reviewing in this report. The closest I can come to a description was it was a CO2-powered bolt action rifle with target sights. It came with a composite stock in colors of gray, blue, dark blue, gloss black, red, and silver. Though it had target sights, the trigger was heavy and creepy and the best you could hope for was ten pellets in about 3/4-inch at 10 meters. The velocity was rated at 485 f.p.s. The buttplate and cheekpiece were both adjustable.

The Challenger 2000 had a T-shaped cocking handle with a locking latch on the left side. It was similar to an AR-15 cocking handle and unlocked as it was pulled back. It was very hard to cock!

And the Benjamin barrel was attached to the reservoir. That’s something no target shooter wants!

CH2000

The Challenger 2000 was discontinued in 2001, replaced by the model CH2000 that was introduced that year. It also had the ambidextrous T-shaped cocking knob that resembles the one on the current Challenger PCP — but the locking latch on the left side was elimimnated. This model was also powered by CO2 and rated at 485 f.p.s.

This model lasted until the year 2009, but before I tell you what came next I need to remind you of some related history that you probably know if you are a regular reader.

NRA

The NRA used to hold an airgun breakfast at the SHOT Show for members of the airgun industry. One year early in the millennium they stunned us all by telling us about their NRA Junior Marksmanship program. The NRA told the airgunning world that over a million junior shooters compete each year in a multi-tiered national competition that involves over 74,000 different teams from around the nation. Well — pour the bucket of blood into the shark-infested waters and watch what happens!

I’m sure that Daisy, who up to this point had supplied ALL the target rifles to these junior marksmanship programs, was thrilled at the possibility of competition from the rest of the world! It took years to sort it all out and by then only two new companies decided to play. We have already looked extensively at the AirForce Edge that came from one of them; now we switch over to the Crosman Challenger PCP.

When did this NRA briefing take place? I forget, but let’s call it 2006. AirForce was faced with a clean sheet of paper because they had nothing like a target rifle but Crosman was already playing around with an airgun that looked like a target rifle. And Ed Schultz was their lead engineer, so they knew what they were doing. Those were the heady days of success at Crosman with the Benjamin Discovery, followed by the ten times bigger success of the Benjamin Marauder. Things were a’ poppin’ at Crosman and they wanted their share of this huge previously unknown market!

Whaddaya do?

So, you’re at Crosman and you want to build a target rifle for juniors. All of us reading this are sitting on our comfortable couches 12-15 years later with nothing at risk, so of course we know exactly what to do. Crosman, who was owned at the time by a penny-pinching investment group with a board of directors that watched everything, had to guess right the first time, because when people guess wrong they can get fired.

I am going to fast-forward you through all the decisions they made and show you how success looks as it’s unfolding.

First — they already had a target-looking air rifle with a synthetic stock that had an adjustable cheekpiece and buttplate. So that part was done!

Second — they already had target sights. No change needed there.

Third — they had a good ambidextrous cocking handle, and the action was easy to cock. Keep it!

Fourth — they were using CO2 to power their target rifle. That’s BAD, for reasons all of you should know by now. CO2 is not consistent enough — especially when we know that precharged pneumatics are better (more consistent, shot-to-shot). Keep the DESIGN of CO2 (a tubular reservoir under the barrel) but make it from aluminum, strong enough to hold 3,000 psi air! Forget the “Dual Fuel” marketing concept. It’s a cutesy slogan but target shooters don’t care. CO2 IS NOT for shooting in competition — not in this millenium. You can take that from someone who used to do it! If you just want to hit Necco wafters at 20 feet, CO2 is fine. If you want to hit the ten-ring at 10 meters, it’s not. Remember — this rifle is for one million junior marksmanship shooters and their coaches — not Buba at the box store!

Fifth — the trigger HAS to be good. The rules say 1.5 lbs. or more, so make it crisp and as close to that release weight as possible.

Sixth — get rid of the home-grown barrel and install one from Lothar Walther. Not only will it probably be more accurate — you’ll also get a super sales push from having it! Target shooters don’t know much about the technical side of airguns, as a rule. But they know names like Lothar Walther.

Seventh — build it for a price. The NRA would tell you what that could be, once they got their draconian rules committee up to speed, but you just charge on ahead and then figure out how to do it for a lot less than you need, once they have made up their minds.

Challenger 2009

Crosman did each and every one of those things, and in 2009 they launched their model CH2009, which at the time they called the Challenger 2009. A few years later they realized that the years change over time and they renamed it the the Challenger PCP. That’s the rifle I am testing for you.

Description

The Challenger PCP is a three position (prone, kneeling, standing) 10-meter target rifle made for junior marksmanship competition. It is a precharged pneumatic (PCP) that fills to 2,000 psi — yes, you read that right — just 2,000 psi! Crosman still maintains the “dual fuel” principal and the pressure gauge is even calibrated for CO2 — which is a joke because CO2 maintains its pressure until the last of the liquid is gone, then the pressure drops like a rock. It is not in vogue in competition today.

Crosman Challenger gauge
The gauge reads either air or CO2. The green area for CO2 is small because it’s either at pressure or not — there is no gradual decline of pressure. The gauge actually tells you which gas is in the rifle.

The rifle I’m testing weighs 6 lbs. 12 oz. The NRA weight limit is 7.5 lbs.  The Challenger is 40 inches long overall, with a 12.5-inch length of pull. That was measured with the adjustable buttplate installed. It can be removed for wee teeny children, and I have seen little 8-year-old girls mastering this rifle like pros. The Lothar Walther barrel is just shy of 24-inches long.

Trigger

The trigger is 2-stage and adjustable. It is a Marauder trigger, and Crosman could not have done a wiser thing! They are in direct competition with AirForce Airguns with this one and the Edge has many features the Challenger doesn’t offer. But the trigger on this one is the best — hands down!

Comments???

I read the questions and answers on the Pyramyd Air website for the Challenger and one really surprised me. Here is is, as written.

“And does it not come in .22 cal? If it does come in .22 or .25 why is it only showing the .177cal ?”

Indeed! And why don’t NASCAR racers have 4-cylinder engines? They would certainly get better milage.

The Challenger PCP only comes in .177 caliber because the rules only allow .177 caliber pellets in matches. All the scoring systems are geared to that one caliber and to the use of wadcutter pellets.

There is an international rail (3/8″) under the forearm so all accessories that are allowed by the rules can be used.

Adjustable power

Crosman gives you the ability to adjust BOTH the hammer spring tension and the length of the hammer stroke! This allows for fine-tuning the velocity AND the shot count for optimum results.

Crosman Challenger power
The knurled knob adjusts hammer string tension and the 1/8-inch Allen screw adjusts the hammer stroke.

When you unpack the rifle Crosman says it should shoot at around 530 f.p.s. That’s faster than the 485 f.p.s. the CO2 models achieved and everything I’m about to say applies to the gun running on high pressure air (up to 2,000 psi). Crosman says you’ll get about 70 good shots at that velocity. I tested the rifle back in 2009 when it first came out and it was shooting 550-568 f.p.s. with Gamo Match pellets. I got 72 shots within that 18 f.p.s. spread. 

Then I adjusted the hammer spring and hammer stroke length and got 116 shots that averaged 545 f.p.s. The spread for that string was 29 f.p.s. I like it so much that I will rely on this setting because I’m not touching this adjustment again! I will, however, test the velocity of several pellets for you in Part 2.

Summary

So in the Challenger PCP we have a target air rifle that’s still available, though I have put Part 1 into the historical section for this first report. I have also linked to all the Edge reports we just finished so you can check between guns if you like. This is going to be interesting!


Oh, Yes — I’m the Great Enabler!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Wants what he wants
  • So why?
  • What happens when a gun doesn’t live up to the hype?
  • Not-so-expensive
  • Don’t put words into my mouth
  • How to read me

Yesterday my brother-in-law, Bob, called me on his way home from buying groceries and told me that yesterday ‘s blog about the Umarex Fusion 2 had convinced him to buy one. He told me I am the Great Enabler.

Wants what he wants

I thought about that. Bob is an airgunner very much like many of you. He doesn’t want just one more airgun, but if he sees a good enough reason to own one, he will spring for it. Like many of you Bob loves to shoot. He shoots firearms almost every week and years ago I coached him into reloading, both to keep the cost of ammunition down and also to have ammo that more flexibly meets his needs. Reloading gives you the control you need over your ammo — both to make it as close to perfect as possible for your guns and also to ensure a supply in those times (like now) when it isn’t generally available. Airguns are like that in many ways.

No, you can’t make your own pellets, though if you own a big bore you can cast bullets for it. But with a pellet gun you can lay in a supply of the pellets your airguns prefer, and you can do it without breaking the bank. I get emails all the time telling my how horrible the selection of pellets is at the big box store where they shop! Well, sure! I can also name several restaurants where I wouldn’t recommend eating — even though they have an unlimited buffet. A lot of bad gets bad very fast. Quantity counts for very little when quality matters.

So why?

Do I sit around and dream up ways to get you all excited about products? No — that’s called marketing and I won’t do it. Why? Because I know that many readers are like I used to be. They maybe have enough money scraped together to buy one airgun this year, and it better be a good one because that’s going to be it for a long time. I understand that.

When the Beeman R1 first came out in about 1982 I was the proud owner of a Feinwerkbau 124 that, until the R1, was fairest in the land. I had purchased my FWB at the Beeman Store in San Rafael, just a few months earlier and here was their latest catalog — rubbing my nose in it!

That was a different time and the power threshold was 800 f.p.s., which turned out to be the place where a pellet rifle can also be highly accurate and the gun that launches it can also be smooth to shoot. My 124 was all those things but when that R1 hit the streets I felt like I had been passed by. I was happily riding a Triumph Speed Triple and the full-bore Suzuki Hayabusa had just come out!

So, when I look at an airgun, it’s through eyes that see it as a possible purchase. And you long-time readers know I have sold myself as many airguns as anyone else! But I don’t always look for the very best. I most often look for good, and there is precious little of it in the ocean of new airgun products. I look for things like accuracy, smoothness, ease of use and so on. I don’t chase after the latest fads, unless there is a compelling reason to do so. I can tell you objectively what each of the things I am looking for means, but often a new airgun has them in spades and I don’t have to.

A huge example of that is the Air Venturi Avenger. It’s powerful, it’s a repeater, accurate, it has a decent trigger and it’s affordable — especially for the features it offers. I’m still testing the Avenger and I have no axe to grind, but it put me in serious consideration of NOT BUYING the Air Arms S510XS! Here is what I wrote.

The unthinkable

“I am about to mount the Meopta scope on the Avenger and run a test at 25 yards to see if just by adding that scope I can get the Avenger to shoot better. I will literally be comparing the Avenger to the S510XS.

I don’t need the Avenger to equal what the Air Arms rifle did two years ago, because I was a little younger then and that could also have been a lucky day for me. However, if I come close enough  to show that with the Meopta scope the Avenger does become more accurate — well, Lucy, then I got some serious ‘splainin’ to do!”

What happens when a gun doesn’t live up to the hype?

An example of an airgun that failed to live up to my standards is the FX Dreamlite. An expensive air rifle — it failed to deliver on accuracy — despite six chances to do so. The first “manual” they sent with the gun was a sales brochure (that FX quickly revised and got to me), the power adjustments were confusing, the “Smooth Twist” barrel did not produce the level of accuracy that a $1,200 air rifle should — unless I went to extreme measures and used the magazine in a way no serious shooter ever would.

I was all set to purchase that Dreamlite until I discovered how mediocre the accuracy was. I was advised to change barrels and calibers — that .22 was the way to go. Well, sorry, readers, but the guy who lives in Keokuk, Iowa, may not have that same opportunity. When he buys an airgun he gets what comes out of the box. Maybe he really wanted a .177, because that is what I tested. I want the airgun he gets to perform similar to the one I test. I know they won’t always do that and yes, I do a lot of shooting, so I may be able to wring a little more out of a gun than some folks, but when I get an expensive gun that even I can’t make work right — I’m not going to praise it to you — just because the maker is the current rage on the internet!

Not-so-expensive

The Air Arms S510XS and the FX Dreamlite are expensive airguns. But the Avenger isn’t. Now — here is the deal. I will NEVER tell you an airgun is good just because it’s cheap! That’s the All-You-Can-Eat approach and I won’t do it. The gun has to perform, or I don’t get excited. But please understand that it’s easier for me to get excited about a gun that retails for $129 and is accurate than it is about a gun that sells for $1,200 and is no more accurate than the other one. 

Sure, I get excited about great triggers. Here is what I said about the FX Dreamlite trigger.

“I will say this — the Dreamlite trigger on the rifle I am testing is two-stage and absolutely delightful. Stage two is relatively crisp and light. I’ll have no problem doing my best with this trigger.”

And the Umarex Fusion 2 that I started reviewing yesterday has a trigger that is not as good as the one on the Dreamlite. But it is perfectly okay for what that rifle is intended to do. The Fusion 2 is a plinking rifle and needs a trigger that works good enough. It certainly has that! If I find a flaw during testing I will point it out to you but I will not go down the road of comparing one airgun to another. I will test them based on their own merits and let the facts stand as they will.

Don’t put words into my mouth

Every week I get emails either using the Blogger address or from my Godfather website. I do not answer the Blogger messages unless they are about writing a guest blog. But the messages that come from my Godfather website go something like this:

“I am writing to you off line so you can speak freely. I know you said the Mashemflat Magnum breakbarrel takes a lot of effort to cock, but my 14-year-old son is big for his age. I want to get him his first air rifle and I really like the idea of a 30 foot-pound spring rifle! His birthday is coming up so please tell me honestly whether a 5-foot 6-inch 150-pound male can operate this rifle reliably”

That’s what the message says. Here is what it means when it’s translated.

“I really want the Mashemflat Magnum, but my wife says I can’t buy any more airguns this year. I want to use my son’s upcoming birthday as an excuse to get one.”

Here is my answer. “Is your son able to curl 75 pounds 10 times with one arm? Because that is what it’s like to cock that air rifle. Gold’s Gym should buy 20 of them for their weight room!”

How to read me

I do get excited about some of the airguns I test. And that does come through my writing. But I don’t get excited about others, no matter what they are or who makes them. When I get excited, pay attention — especially if you see something you like.

Bob likes airguns with magazines because loading individual pellets is not his thing. And he likes airguns he doesn’t have to work to operate. So spring guns aren’t as attractive to him as CO2 guns.

This Fusion 2 has what he wants — we both hope! I have only written Part 1 and there are at least two more reports to come, but if it tests out it will make his day. How about yours?


Umarex Fusion 2 CO2 rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Fusion 2
Umarex Fusion 2 CO2 repeater.

This report covers:

  • What is it?
  • Seen before
  • Quiet?
  • Power?
  • Description
  • Repeater
  • Magazine
  • Sights
  • Ambidextrous?
  • Summary

What is it?

The Umarex Fusion 2 CO2 repeater is a .177 caliber bolt-action repeating air rifle. It comes with two 9-shot rotary pellet magazines and a 4X32 scope. The rifle is powered by two 12-gram cartridges or by one 88-gram cartridge. The claim is up to 70 powerful shots on the 12-gram cartridges and as many as 250 shots on an 88-gram cartridge.

Seen before

Back in 2013 I did a 5-part report on the first Fusion rifle. It tested well, though I did have trouble trying to adjust the trigger. The box this new Fusion 2 rifle comes in says the trigger is adjustable, but the manual has no information about it. And Pyramyd Air lists the trigger as single-stage. I will check further, but I do believe the trigger is not adjustable.

Quiet?

The rifle I tested before was accurate and very quiet. Umarex goes out of their way to hype the low discharge sound. They tout the SilencAir silencer that’s on the end of the barrel. You know I will tell you how this one performs! Discharge sound is very important to many readers who want to shoot as quietly as possible for various reasons. Pyramyd Air rates the discharge at a 2 on their 5-point scale. That is a low to moderate level.

Power?

The manual and the hangtag that come with the rifle say to expect 650 f.p.s. with lead pellets and up to 700 f.p.s with alloy pellets. Naturally I will test that for you. The rifle is powered by CO2 and you have a choice of using either two 12-gram cartridges or one 88-gram cartridge. To get a shot count I will start with two 12-gram cartridges and Umarex says to expect up to 70 good shots per fill. I have 9 shots on the first two cartridges, so the test is already underway.

Where the original Fusion had adjustable power, the Fusion 2 seems not to have an adjustment.

Description

Okay, here is my take. As long as it’s warm where you shoot, the Fusion 2 is very much like an affordable PCP repeater. It is bolt action and please don’t start redesigning it! Yes a sidelever would be nice, but if the price was $139 instead of $129 the same people who say they want that feature would bellyache over the cost increase. I will report in the future how easy or difficult the bolt is to use.

The stock is synthetic and matte black overall. The butt feels solid, so no complaints about a hollow sound. The rifle weighs just under 6 pounds. I weighed the one I am testing with two fresh 12-gram cartridges installed but no magazine and it came to 5 lbs. 13 oz.

The stock narrows just ahead of the triggerguard to make a natural place to grasp the stock when shooting offhand. The forearm is wider and squared. It has M-LOK (Modular Lock) slots for attaching accessories. M-LOK is a patented locking system invented by Magpul. It is best for polymer handguards because it places less stress on them than the KeyMod accessory attachment system.

The barrel is 18.54 inches long and the SilencAir is a 5-chambered silencer permanently affixed to it. The length of pull is 14.25 inches. The rifle’s length overall is 40.25 inches. The buttpad is thick rubber with deep horizontal grooves across it. It grips the shouder positively.

Repeater

The Fusion I tested in 2013 was a single-shot. This Fusion 2 comes with two 9-shot rotary magazines. There seems to be no provision for shooting this rifle single-shot, nor can I find a single-shot adaptor. The space in the receiver where the magazine fits is very narrow and I doubt single-loading would be convenient. I am aware that clever people have designed ways of getting around this, but as of now the Fusion 2 seems only to be a 9-shot repeater.

Magazine

The magazines are unique, as far as I know. They load easier than most rotary mags, but they don’t stop the bolt after the last pellet is shot. So you have to keep  track of where you are or you’ll shoot blank shots. I will tell you more about the mags in Part 2 when we look at velocity.

Fusion 2 magazine
The Fusion 2 rotary magazine is unique.

Sights

The Fusion 2 comes without open sights. But a 4X32 scope and rings are supplied, and the top of the rifle has a long Picatinny rail. I know a 4X32 isn’t much to shout about, but if we see stunning accuracy during the test I will also try the rifle with a better scope.

Ambidextrous?

The stock is ambidextrous, but the safety and bolt handle are on the right side and cannot be switched. They do favor right-handed shooters.

Summary

The Umarex Fusion 2 repeater has been available for about three months and seems to be quite popular. It is out of stock when this report was published. Pyramyd shows a restock date of late September. Hopefully they will be in stock sooner than that.


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 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Umarex Air JavelinThe Air Javelin from Umarex.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • More to test
  • What are the holes for?
  • Remove the old 88-gram cartridge
  • Lots of gas!
  • Install the adaptor
  • Cock the gun!
  • Don’t do as BB does!
  • Adjust the dot sight up
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I shoot the Umarex Air Javelin with a dot sight optic. My UTG Reflex Micro  Dot was mounted elsewhere so I mounted a Tasco Pro Point red dot sight. 

Air Javelin dot sight
The Air Javelin accepted the Tasco Pro Point without a problem.

More to test

I didn’t tell you this but I asked Umarex to send me a 12-gram CO2 adapter so I could test the AJ with 12-gram cartridges. Some readers had asked about that possibility and since Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry the adapter, I went straight to Umarex.

Air Javelin 12-gram adapter
Several Umarex airguns including the Air Javelin use this adapter that switches the power source from 88/90-gram CO2 cartridges to 12-gram cartridges.

Let’s look at how it works. One end has an end cap that unscrews to accept the two 12-gram cartridges. The other end is treaded to screw into whatever airgun you install it on.

Air Javelin adapter description
The adapter has an end cap (arrow) that comes off to insert the CO2 cartridges, and threads on the other end to screw into the airgun. The holes are for moving the end cap when pressure holds it tight.

The two cartridges go into the adapter nose to nose. The piercing end of the first cartridge goes in first and the piercing end (small flat end) of the second cartridge is left up at the top, where the pin in the cap can pierce it. There is a spring-loaded winding tab on the cap. The spring holds the tab flat against the cap until you need it.

Air Javelin adapter cap off
The adapter cap has been unscrewed.

No directions for use came with the adaptor but it is pretty easy to figure out. I unscrewed the end cap piercing screw as far as it would go before dropping two cartridges inside. And I dropped in 5 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil before inserting the first cartridge. Then I put more Pellgunoil on the tip of the second cartridge.

Air Javelin cap screw
Here you see the cap screw (bottom) unscrewed as far as it will go.

What are the holes for?

If you ask what the holes in the sides of the end cap are for you haven’t yet encountered a gas gun with so much pressure that it wouldn’t let go of the end cap. This used to be a real problem in the 1950s and ’60s when improper o-ring material would swell from the gas and no let go of the end cap for hours after the gun was empty. With modern materials there is no more problem, unless the gas pressure inside the adapter is still high. This is not a large problem; it’s more of a convenience.

As you can see, I unscrew the piercing screw on the end cap as far as it will go, then screw the end cap down as far as it will go. Now I pick up the spring-loaded tab and start screwing the piercing screw in. That one screw is piercing both cartridges. It pushes the bottom cartridge down on the internal piercing pin inside the adapter as well as screwing in the piercing pin in the end cap. So I run it in as far as it will go. I heard no gas escape when I did this, but just to make certain the piercing pins were out of the way of the gas, I unscrewed the tab about a turn.

Remove the old 88-gram cartridge

Before the adaptor could be installed I first had to remove the previous 88-gram CO2 cartridge that was in the AJ. I didn’t know for sure but I calculated there were around 20 shots on it. We learned in Part 1 that the AJ has up to 30 good shots on one 88-gram cartridge. The last shots will send arrows out at just under 200 f.p.s. while the first shots have them going over 300 f.p.s. I will have more to tell you and show you later in this report, but for now you need to know that I was removing a cartridge that had a good 10 shots remaining inside. I had to do it to get a shot count from the two 12-gram CO2 cartridges in the adapter I’m about to install.

Lots of gas!

I will say this. Once you slowly unscrew the CO2 cartridge it comes to a point when the remaining gas is no longer sealed and starts hissing out. That lasted a long time — several minutes at least. I also dry-fired the AJ about 10 times as it was loosing gas to speed up the process. In the end the last gas hissed out and the old cartridge could be removed. The gun was now ready for the adapter.

Install the adaptor

The adaptor just screws into the gun where the CO2 tank was. Remember I put Pellgunoil inside when the cartridges were pierced, so that gets blown into the AJ to get on all the internal seals. BUT…!

Cock the gun!

Umarex tells you not to cock the gun when installing a new cartridge and I expect they also mean this adaptor. That is obviously a safety issue. But the adaptor holds two 12-gram cartridges that have limited gas. So I screwed the adaptor in, and when the hissing began I cocked the AJ and stopped it instantly.

Air Javelin adapter in
The adaptor fits in the AJ just like an 88-gram CO2 cartridge. This photo was very important later in the test!

Don’t do as BB does!

This is an object lesson. Some of you think I am modest, but the truth is — I am often that bad example your mother warned you not to follow! I set up the target bag in my back yard about 10 meters from the shooting bench. Yes that’s pretty far but I hadn’t shot the AJ in two months and my last recollection was one of great accuracy. It really was accurate last time — what could go wrong? I held the red dot in the center of the target that was taped to the bag and fired the first arrow. But I couldn’t tell where it went. It wasn’t anywhere on the bag! Oh, oh!

I looked in the grass all around and under the bag for signs of the arrow and then in the wooden fence between my property and my neighbors. Nothing. So I dragged the bag back to 5 meters and shot again. This is where I should have placed the bag to begin with.

Adjust the dot sight up

This time the arrow hit the bag, just below the bottom of the target paper. My previous shot had been taken at twice the distance, so the lost arrow is definitely somewhere in my lawn at something less than 10 meters. I searched for another 10 minutes for that first arrow with no luck. Umarex had only sent me three arrows with the AJ, and now I was down to just two. I adjusted the elevation up considerably and shot again.

Shot three hit a half-inch or less from shot two. It was on the bag but still below the target paper. From the looks of it (it was on an angle in the bag), it may well have hit the back of the second arrow— something I would discover in a little bit. Now I knew I was on the target so I cranked in a whole lot more elevation and moved the bag out to 15 meters.

Then I let fly with shot number four. This time the arrow hit the bottom of the 6-ring, almost touching the bullseye at 6 o’clock. Wow! I pulled the arrow out and moved the target bag out to 20 meters.

That shot had looked so good that I fired my second shot (number five on the CO2 adaptor). It hit the target about 3/4-inches below the last one. I needed to watch out or I would Robin Hood my two remaining arrows.

The last test in Part 3 demonstrated that the AJ is very accurate at this distance, so I felt confident it would not be a problem. However — remember that arrow that may have been hit in the back? I knew that I would nail the target in line with the center of the target and with luck I’d be inside the bull. No such luck! This time I heard a sickening sound of the arrow hitting the fence behind the bag. I have never missed the bag before this shot and was surprised I missed it this time. I found the arrow that had gone 4 feet wide to the left and was halfway through the fence.

When I pulled that arrow out of the fence I examined it to see why it had gone so wide. Right away I saw it. The end of the arrow is blown out on one side. I think I did hit the back of this arrow earlier and now I was rewarded with a wild shot. When I enlarged the pictures of all three arrows that was taken before the test started I saw that none were damaged this way. That is what I meant by that earlier picture being so fortuitous.

Air Javelin arrow end
The end of the AJ arrow that went so wide at 20 yards was broken out on one side — causing the arrow to veer to the side as it came off the end of the air tube. This arrow was probably hit in the rear on shot number three.

Air Javelin arrows
I enhanced this earlier photo to show there was no damage to any of the three arrows at the start of this test.

For safety’s sake I moved the target bag back to 15 meters and fired my one remaining arrow three more times — shots 7, 8 and 9. Shot 7 hit the target at the bottom center of the largest ring in the white. I had to pull the arrow to shoot shot 8 and it hit the target about 3/4-inches below and to the right of shot 7. On this shot I noticed a lot of time between the shot and the arrow hitting the bag.

Air Javelin arrows shot 8
Shot 8 at 15 meters hit below and to the right of shot 7. I could hear that this arrow was slower.

I pulled the arrow and fired one more time. This time there was a definite slowing of the arrow and it hit at the bottom of the paper, a little more than an inch below shot 8.

Air Javelin arrows shot 9
Shot 9 hit the target a little more than an inch below shot 8.

Discussion

Based on this test I can say that two 12-gram CO2 cartridges give you about 8 good shots. They are not all the same speed, but I believe they all fall within the velocity spread of the 30 good shots you get from an 88-gram cartridge. Analyzing the costs tells me you get 8 good shots for about $1.00 with two 12-gram cartridges, and 30 good shots for about $8.00 with one 88-gram cartridge. The advantage of the adapter is shots that cost less. The advantage of the 88-gram cartridge is a lot more shots per cartridge. The velocity of the shots is the same because CO2 varies its pressure due to temperature. Volume is not a factor in pressure.There is no easy way to increase or decrease that pressure — certainly not one that’s available to the field.

The second thing I would tell you is to always examine your arrows just before loading them. I didn’t and only through a fortunate photograph was I able to determine that an arrow had been damaged during this test. A damaged arrow flies erratically and is too risky to shoot.

One last comment is that I need to jack up the rear of the dot sight for the next test. I had to apply too much elevation to get the arrows near to the aim point.

Summary

I’m still very impressed by the Air Javelin. Even with the challenges of today’s test, which in retrospect were all mine, the AJ held its own. When it is given half a chance it places its arrows close together at the distances I have been testing.

The CO2 adapter performs as well as many expected. I was surprised by the number of good shots we got in today’s test. And it is very easy to set up and use.

Hopefully we will see the AJ at least once more, and this time with more arrows and no sighting problems.


Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dust Devil
Dust Devil Mk2.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The first and best test
  • Test strategy
  • Crush test
  • Test 2 — close impact
  • What have we learned?
  • Hard target test
  • What does this tell us?
  • One last test
  • Summary

Today we look at the frangible properties of the new Dust Devil Mark 2 BBs. Remember — these are the only Dust Devils you can buy and the box does not say Mark 2. But the BB I am testing is what you can buy and all that you can buy!

The first and best test

What I show you today is the first time I have tested Dust Devils at all. I did shoot the Mark 1 Dust Devils against a concrete floor with nothing remaining and no bounce-back, and at the 2018 NRA Show where Pyramyd Air always runs the airgun range, Dust Devils were the only BBs fired and there was not one bounce-back in perhaps 10,000 shots. Today I will take it several steps further.

Test strategy

I reasoned that I am interested in the low threshold of the BB’s performance. If they work at slow speeds they will also work at higher speeds. So — what is the weakest BB gun I own? Well, overlooking catapult guns like the Daisy 179 and the Johnson Indoor Target gun, the weakest BB gun in my possession is my Daisy 499.

The new Dust Devil is slightly slower than the older version. A 499 that shoots a conventional Daisy BB at 232 f.p.s. shoots the new Dust Devil at 237 f.p.s. So it’s comparable.

So — how do I test them? I had initially thought of shooting them at my concrete garage floor, but then a more involved test plan formed in my mind. Let’s see what I did.

Crush test

In any test you should always try to practice-test the item if possible first. With some things like atomic bombs that proves impossible, so you test each of the components, subassemblies and assemblies, seeing how closely they adhere to your projections. But there were physicists in the Manhattan Project who predicted that the reaction of the first atomic bomb would not end with the destruction of the fissile material but go right on exploding every atom in its path and destroy the earth. Where do you stand to test that? It may seem funny now but before the first test it was nothing of the kind.

The Dust Devil is different. It’s possible to test them without shooting them, and that’s what I did first. I put one BB in the jaws of a pair of common household pliers and held it over a clean sheet of paper as I squeezed. It took less energy than I expected to make the BB burst apart, and when it did it sent dust flying everywhere. Some of it hit me. I also heard one larger fragment hit some thing in my office.

I guessed that one-quarter of the BB’s mass remained on the paper. A Dust Devil Mark2 weighs 4.6 grains and I weighed 1.2 grains of dust from the paper. That’s just over a quarter the weight of the whole BB.

Dust Devil plier test
You can see from the plier test that the BB turned into dust, with a couple larger pieces remaining. The whole BB is for scale.

Test 2 — close impact

Next I went into the garage to test the BB against a hard target. I didn’t use the floor this time because there was no way to control the remnants or to gather them after the impact. Instead I used a deep box with a white styrofoam sheet on the bottom. Anything that stayed in the box after impact should be visible on the white sheet.

Inside the box I put a plate of 10-gauge steel. I shot the 499 at that plate from 2 inches away. The BB shattered completely and became invisible.  I did hear one larger piece hit elsewhere in the room, so there was some bounce-back, though I’m sure it was very small from the sound it made.

Dust Devil box
The box is deep enough to contain some of the Dust Devil particles when it explodes from contact with the steel plate.

I figured some of the BB remnants would be on the white sheet, and they were, but when I removed the steel plate from the bottom of the box, I felt a small piece of the BB that had fused to it. I carefully removed it and photographed it for you to see.

Dust Devil fused piece
The small piece of a BB on the left was fused to the steel plate, when fired from a Daisy 499 from 2-inches distance. This photo has also caught the whole BB on the right perpendicular to its band that now looks like a shiny halo above it.

Dust Devil dust
This is a little over a one-inch square section of the white foam after shooting at the 10-gauge steel plate. The entire bottom of the box looks like this, except the larger pieces like the one near the center of the photo did not travel as far from the plate.

What have we learned?

I think these tests have revealed a couple things. First, that the Dust Devil tends to hold together until it doesn’t any longer. It doesn’t flake apart slowly — it explodes. Not from any force from within, but from holding together until it can no longer stand the strain. That makes it very safe when it comes apart. But you need to know that larger pieces do come off the BB and you need to wear eye protection the same as you would for regular BBs. You probably will never be hit by a particle that causes pain, but from time to time you or someone in the vicinity will feel some larger pieces come back.

The second thing we have learned is that it doesn’t take much force to break up a Dust Devil. That is in the advertising, of course, but my two tests demonstrate it quite well. However, that begs a question I have not yet asked. What is the definition of a hard target?

Hard target test

The last test I did for this report was to try to determine what constitutes a hard target. The steel plate obviously is hard, but what about a tree with thick bark? I would think that is not a hard target because the bark is softer and does give a little. How about a lightweight steel spinner? Where does the “hard” in a target begin?

For this test I used a small steel can of the type that green beans might come in. I placed it inside the box, standing it up so the bottom of the can was presented as a target.

Dust Devil can
A small can stood up so the bottom presents a target. I have shot through the sides of this can a couple times with other airguns.

This time I held the muzzle of the 499 about 12 inches from the bottom of the can. I had no idea of what to expect, except I knew that the can would give just a little to a regular steel BB.

The Dust Devil hit in the center of the can bottom, denting it slightly, and the BB bounced back out just a little. It came perhaps 2-3 inches above the top of the can, but landed inside the box. 

Dust Devil can hit
The Dust Devil hit the can bottom in its center.

I was surprised to see the Dust Devil apparently intact, except when I looked at it closely I saw a frosted area on one side, where the BB’s shine had turned dull.

I took the BB to my office to examine it under a 10X jeweler’s loupe. When I did I saw that the frosted area appeared to be the particles in the BB, just as they are coming apart.

Dust Devil frost
This is difficult to see and even harder to photograph. Look at the BB band at the top in this picture (arrow). See how it is frosted, not shiny like the spherical portion below? I believe this test has captured a Dust Devil just before it explodes into dust. 

Apparently the can that was slightly dented by the BB provided just enough slowdown for the low-velocity BB that we captured a very rare phenomenon. We have a frangible BB that has been brought to the brink of destruction but still remains whole.

On the opposite side of the BB there is a very small dent that I have never seen on a Dust Devil. Not only is it a dent, but around the side the material is raised, as if the material within has been displaced. I think this is the opposite side of the shock wave that passed through the BB on impact.

Dust Devil dent
Almost (but not quite) on the opposite side of the frosted area is this “dent” with raised edges.

What does this tell us?

This time the entire BB bounced back — BUT — the bounce-back wasn’t very fast. I believe the BB’s energy was absorbed by both the slight dent in the can as well as the near-destruction of the BB, itself. This was a chance happening and nothing to bank on, but it does answer that other tricky question about what makes a target hard. 

When you shoot Dust Devils, protect yourself and others in the area the same as you would for conventional steel BBs. But you can shoot at hard targets with BB guns, which is something I would never recommend doing with conventional BBs.

Targets will range in hardness all over the place from very hard to marginal. If you protect everyone in the vicinity, the Dust Devil gives you a safer way to shoot.

One last test

Since these little critters are so friendly and safe, do they work in a full-auto BB gun? Now I know that they do because Pyramyd Air was shooting thousands of them in Crosman DPMS guns at the NRA Show. But I said I wanted to test them this way too and since I own an Umarex MP-40, I thought, why not?

Well, I tried but my MP-40 wasn’t cooperating. I loaded two fresh CO2 cartridges into the magazine, and if I tap the valve stem the mag does fire. I was able to get the gun to shoot a couple shots full auto when I held the trigger down and released the cocking handle. Yes, the selector switch was set in full auto. It’s something I need to sort out. You see, BB has the same sort of problems as everyone. You just hear about it when they happen.

Summary

This is the first good hard target test I have given the Dust Devil, and it is the Mark2 version that was tested. The BB seems to perform as well as anyone could hope for. You still should take every precaution you always do when shooting any pellet or BB gun, but if you do we now we have a BB that won’t shoot your eye out.