Things you need when you buy a PCP

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

This report covers:

• Equipment to fill the gun
• Silicone chamber oil
• Diver’s silicone grease
• Plumber’s tape
• No such thing as Teflon tape
• A chronograph tells the whole story
• Other things?
• Summary

Today, I’m writing this for the sales representatives at Pyramyd Air, who are always asked what else you’ll need when you buy a precharged airgun. Precharged airguns need some things to go with them to operate smoothly. Think of  the batteries you always need for electronics. Are they included in the box or do you have to buy them extra?

Equipment to fill the gun
This is the big one! How does air get into your new gun? Back in the 1980s, customers were surprised to learn they had to buy the fill device (also called a decant device, hose and gauge, and other things) separate from the airgun. They never thought about people possibly owning two such guns that one fill device would service. And they also didn’t appreciate how much these fill devices cost — and how much could be saved by not buying a second one that was identical.

These days, most people know you need a fill device of some kind to connect an air source to an airgun, but there’s more to it than just that. Some companies, such as AirForce, Crosman, Daystate and Dennis Quackenbush, use the now-common Foster quick-disconnect fittings that simplify everything. One common fill hose services all the airguns made by these companies. On the other hand, Air Arms, BSA, Evanix and others still have proprietary connections. The question is: What do you need to fill your new airgun?

Pyramyd Air provides an easy solution to this dilemma — a little decision tree that helps you find exactly what you need for your new airgun. You can try it out right now and see how it works. Select any PCP on their website and look at the product page. I’m going to choose the Air Arms S510 Xtra PCP Carbine.

On that page, find the tabs where you see these words:

Description  Specifications  Customer reviews  Questions & Answers  PCP Hookup

Click on the words PCP Hookup, and you’ll see the tool they’ve provided. Don’t be embarrassed if this is new to you. I didn’t notice it until Edith came into my office and walked me through it — and I write this blog!

PCP hookup
When you click on PCP Hookup, this is what you’ll see.

Now, click on the air source you will be using to fill your PCP, and the complete connection requirements will come up. Try several of these fill source options (by clicking the reset button), so you can fully appreciate what they’ve done for you. As the fill source changes, so do the connection requirements. If no additional adapters or hoses are shown after you click on your preferred fill device, that means none are needed. And it states that at the top of the left side.

PCP Hookup

When I clicked on the Hill MK3 pump as my preferred fill device, it said on the top left column that I didn’t need any additional hoses or adapters to make this fit the Air Arms S510 Xtra FAC PCP air rifle. If I wanted to find other fill devices, I would click the “reset” button to go back to the full list on the PCP Hookup tab.

Like Einstein’s relativity equation, everything sounds simple after seeing this software tool. But airgunners have lived 34 years without it and can tell you — it isn’t obvious!

[Editor’s note: Whether you’re looking for hand pumps or carbon fiber tanks, always check out more than one fill option. Some devices are more expensive, but they may already include the hoses and adapters you need and may end up being more economical than buying a fill device that requires you to buy additional hoses and adapters.]

Silicone chamber oil
If you’ve read even a couple weeks worth of these reports, you’ve seen me recommend silicone chamber oil for sealing airguns. This stuff is so necessary that veteran airgunners should all know they need it. When I worked at AirForce Airguns, I was responsible for testing every valve they made. When a valve leaked (and a small percentage of them did leak on the first test) it was my job to fix it. There are just two things that can fix most high pressure air valves — getting rid of dirt and silicone chamber oil.

I would use a heavy rubber mallet to smack the valves, causing them to pop open loudly under pressure. That also blew out any dirt that was in the sealing surfaces and also made a perfect impression of the metal valve face in the hard synthetic valve seat. It was like breaking in leather shoes. Once broken-in that way, that valve would work reliably for — well, I don’t really know. I have some valves that are now 14 years old, and they still hold indefinitely.

But silicone oil was needed for the o-ring that seals the valve inside the air tank. We actually used a light industrial silicone grease that works very well when you can apply it directly to the parts; but when the gun is together, it’s hard to get grease to go where you want. Light silicone oil will go everywhere, and I cannot remember how many hundreds of airguns I’ve fixed with it — the most recent being the Crosman 2240 that has the HiPAC air conversion installed.

I’ll even go farther and advise you to get a bottle of silicone chamber oil with a needle applicator. That applicator is very handy for putting the oil exactly where you want it. You’ll also find it wonderful for oiling piston seals on a spring gun through the air transfer port.

Diver’s silicone grease
I just said that silicone grease and oil could be used interchangeably, but what I didn’t say is that you pick the one that best suits the job. That’s why I also have silicone grease on hand at all times. If there’s an o-ring that can be seen, like on the bottom of 200- and 300-bar air fittings, use the grease instead of the oil. For the o-ring that seals the HiPAC air tank to the Crosman 2240 pistol, use the grease. Not only does the silicone grease seal air just like silicone oil, it also remains on the parts for a long time. I have 3 jars of it, and one is always in my range bag.

Plumber’s tape
Here’s a product that Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry! But no worries, because just about every hardware store stocks it. Plumber’s tape is for sealing joints that thread together.

plumbers tape
Plumber’s tape is not sticky. It seals the smallest holes in threaded joints.

If this is new to you, it’s tape that doesn’t stick to anything. It has no glue! It is elastic and rather thin, but when you wrap threads with it the correct way, it expands into the smallest crevices and seals the threads against air loss. And, having written that, I guess I will now do a report on how to properly wrap threads for a repair.

Plumber’s tape lubricates the threads, so joints go together tighter (farther), plus it deforms easily, blocking those same threads. It also keeps threads from seizing, so they come apart easier.

No such thing as Teflon tape
Many people call this Teflon tape. But it isn’t. Teflon is a registered trademark of Dupont; so, unless they make the tape (they don’t at the present time), it isn’t Teflon. It’s more correctly called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape — but plumber’s tape is probably the best name for it.

It’s not expensive, and I use it a lot; so, I keep several rolls around the house. I also keep a roll in my range bag, where it’s saved a PCP field test more than once.

A chronograph tells the whole story
You knew I was going to recommend one of these, didn’t you? If not, you’re a new reader of this blog. This is one of the most important diagnostic tools an airgunner can own. A chronograph tells you how fast the pellets are traveling when they leave the muzzle of your airgun.

For many years, I used the Oehler 35P printing chronograph. I was raised in a time when Oehler chronographs were the most accurate instruments money could buy, and writers had to have one to be taken seriously. Then, I started writing this blog, and my chronographing needs increased tenfold! When I did a test of the Shooting Chrony chronograph, I was impressed with how convenient it is. I now keep one set up in my office permanently, which is where all my indoor velocity data is gathered. The price is right, and the unit is small, rugged and easy to transport. And it has an anchor point to mount it to a camera tripod.

If you want a choice, I’ve read good reports about the Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Digital Chronograph. The Bianchi Cup uses it, and that’s a big-time firearm competition! It doesn’t cost much more than the Shooting Chrony, so you have two good instruments to choose from.

Other things?
Is there more? Of course, but these are the essentials. The chronograph you can live without for a little while, but the other things you really should get right away.

Buying your first PCP airgun always seems to be a leap of faith. You’re going where you’ve never been, to places others have warned you to avoid. You’ve done the research, but you still wonder if the good stories aren’t all just part of a grand scheme to hoodwink you.

I’ve told you about all the things I think you absolutely need when you get a PCP. Pyramyd Air has coined a new word for them — PCP necessories. Obviously you don’t need 2 chronographs or 2 different silicone oils, but you’ll eventually need one of each if you’re going to enjoy your new precharged airgun to its fullest.

Walther LG55 air rifle: Part 1

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from reader /Dave. It’s his first report of a beautiful Walther LG55 he recently acquired.

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

Over to you, /Dave.

This Walther LG55 is another used gun that I bought from a reputable seller on the Yellow Classifieds. B.B. asked me to share my impressions with you after I received it. For a lot of people here, this well be a repeat of how to evaluate a used gun. Most people here know, or at least have an idea, of what appeals to them before buying a used gun. Some don’t like to risk money on a used gun, which I completely understand, having been burned once or twice. For those of you that do take risks, here ya go!

Walther LG55 air rifle
This curly walnut stock caught my eye right away!

After my new gun arrives, I generally give it a once-over, looking for any obvious faults and to find out if I need to do any serious work on it. I was happy to get this rifle after delays by the shipping company. The wait, which is normally pretty hard, was extended by more than another week while the shipper decided where it was really supposed to go. When it finally arrived, I was like a kid at Christmas trying to figure out the fastest way to get my new of gun out of the box and out of the paper, tape and bubble wrap that were quite generously used.

After freeing up the rifle and then unwrapping the rear target site, which had been removed and wrapped separately to prevent damage, I quickly mounted the site and brought it into the bright kitchen light to show off my treasured wood to my wife. She said that it looks alive, like a fish swimming! A great improvement over, “I’m not interested in that stuff”! So, I took off down the stairs with a big grin on my face to my little 9.5-yard range to try it out.

Walther LG55 air rifle
The curl goes all the way through the stock.

Giving the gun a quick once-over to make sure all was in place and not loose, I broke it open and cocked it. Man — this thing is easy to cock! A six-year-old could shoot it if he could hold it up. My old bathroom scale says it takes 18 lbs. to cock, and it weighs about 8 lbs. Even at 8 lbs., it should be an all-day shooter for me!

Walther LG55 barrel
Barrel patina.

I took a couple of shots at about 5 feet and then 15 feet to see if it would stay on the paper and to check function. “Check function”… uh-huh! That’s the adult way of saying, “I really can’t wait long enough to go over this thing in detail. I gotta shoot it NOW!” Yes, just under the surface, I’m still just a 10-year-old boy!

What you don’t see in the pictures is that the stock is scratched up. The barrel and compression tube are about a quarter to a third speckled with surface rust that’s not pitted. It’s more like the bluing wear from many hands, rather than neglect. Even with these faults, I’m inclined to just treat the whole gun with oil but not refinish it. Most of the scratches in the stock would vanish with a light sanding, but there are a few that would alter the stock’s original lines if removed. Since I’m not really a big fan of wood filler and refinishing over scratches doesn’t look right, I’ll leave it alone. I kind of like this gun the way it looks, anyway. It speaks of a long life of use and enjoyment that would be lost if I dolled it up too much.

One of the worst dents on the bottom edge of the stock. Some of the wood fibers are cut, so I don’t think this will steam out cleanly without leaving a hash mark. There are a couple more on the forearm that are as deep.

First results from my Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph with RWS Hobby pellets weighing 7.0 grains was around 412 f.p.s. Not that encouraging, considering a quick online search finds that LG55 rifles should shoot around 550-575 f.p.s. at sea level. I’m shooting at just over a mile high in elevation, so I don’t expect to ever make that 575 f.p.s. mark, but somewhere around 525 f.p.s. would leave me tickled pink! But, the rifle is shooting very consistent within a few f.p.s. around 412, so I added a few drops of heavy silicone dashpot oil to the chamber and let it sit a few minutes.

I checked the breach seal while adding the oil, and it looks like it’s in good shape, smooth and standing just a little above the surrounding metal. Tissue paper laid over the breach while firing confirms a good seal. If the tissue doesn’t move, there isn’t enough air leaking through to matter. No oil spray on the tissue is another good indication the breech is tight.

The oil in the chamber brought the velocity up to around 468 +/- 2 f.p.s. right away with no excessive smoke due to the low power of this target gun. That number goes up more after the gun has set for awhile, then drops back off while shooting. That’s still encouraging. Along with the smooth, un-twangy solid thwack when the rifle fires and no grinding with a positive click of the sear falling into place when it’s cocked, that tells me the gun probably just needs a new piston seal. The piston seal on this gun is synthetic, so the oil is just a temporary fix/diagnostic tool. It will need to be replaced to regain its velocity potential.

Walther LG55 air rifle
The difference on the target between 500 f.p.s. of the LG55 and 750 f.p.s. from an HW57. A faster pellet cuts cleaner and is much easier to score or measure when your target isn’t exactly square to the shooting lane. A slower pellet has more tear-out.

While shooting through the chronograph, I noticed that I’d run out of adjustment on the sight and my groups were still hitting an inch high and to the left. Oh no! Shipping damage? Bent sight? Major tweaking might be needed! Ok, calm down and take a good look at things. First, I sight along the compression tube and barrel under a light to see if it’s out of line. Looks pretty straight there. Check the sights. Tight and straight. Front sight is straight and the target insert is correctly seated in its notch, so on to the rear. The click adjustments run full travel on the rear peep sight, and it doesn’t appear to be bent. The sight base seems to be clamping the dovetails correctly. Hmmmm. Ok, loosen the knurled knob and take off the sight to examine it closely. All appears good, so I centered the adjustments, and the peep is right in the middle. No problem here. More thinking….

I decided to remount the rear site and noticed that there are markings and grooves on top of the rail. I lined up the front of the sight with one of those marks. Ah-ha! The knurled nut now travels much closer to the base when I tighten it. The nut has a collar that extends into one of those grooves, locking the sight in place! After tightening it up, I decided to take a shot at a new target. Nine ring! Another shot. Another nine, breaking the ten ring! Great, that was the problem!

In my over-anxiousness to shoot, I’d missed seeing the grooves while mounting the sight and it wasn’t seated properly on the rail. This is what threw off my point of impact. No barrel tweaking or major work other than a seal replacement is required! I’ve found a source for the seal and some other parts for this old gun at JG Airguns. I may make a seal mod with some Teflon round stock and a quad-seal o-ring (like I did with my TF99) if I can’t get this one soon enough.

Walther LG55 air rifle
Notice the horizontal lines on top of the compression tube, in between the dovetails. The front of the sight must be aligned with one of these in order for the locking collar (beneath the knurled nut) to slide in and out and secure the sight from sliding.

The trigger has a really long first stage, and there’s even a little slop in the trigger blade before it starts. I need to do some more research online for adjustment procedures to see if that can be reduced. If not, I’ll leave it as is and just get used to it because it has a light first stage (almost a take-up) followed by a nice, clean, very light and predictable break. It makes the Rekord trigger on my HW57 feel heavy. Definitely not a modern lawyer/liability trigger here!

LG55 trigger
LG55 trigger adjustment screws.

Walther has diagrams of the LG51’s trigger on their website, but I don’t think it’s the same as the LG55’s trigger. The LG55 trigger is shaped different and has more adjustment screws. I’ll need to fiddle around with them to see which one does what, unless someone can point me to the info I need. However, an online search has brought me these drawings that give me a better idea of what’s what.

LG55 drawings
I’m pretty sure I can figure out which screw does what. The only thing that confuses me here is the far left collar (number 50 in the picture on the right), which has click stops when you adjust it…much like a scope turret. Thanks to the kind souls who posted these pictures on the Yellow Forum a while back!

I was curious about when this rifle was made but couldn’t find any definitive information from Walther online. From what I could find in the forums from others who’ve paid Walther for their serial number lookups (and doing a little SWAG), S/N 086xxx tells me this rifle is 50+ years old. So, it was built back in the days when people took a little more time and pride in their work. A time before time studies and efficiency experts set unrealistic bars for production people to meet. But, I digress. I just like old guns!

I would normally run an accuracy test at this point, but I really need to first fix the compression seal to get the velocity back and stabilized. The accuracy and velocity test will be in Part 2. So far, even though I need to do a little work on it, I’m completely happy with this purchase.

Can used airguns also be good ones?

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from reader /Dave. He’s going to tell us about his recent experience with a fine precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle.

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

Take it away, /Dave.

Most of you know me as /Dave. I used to be known here as Shooter, until someone was nice enough to recommend the movie of the same name to me. I immediately changed to /Dave because I’m simply not, and never will be, in that league. Please excuse the pictures, they are from my phone.

I have known a lot of people in my life who absolutely must have new when it comes to buying anything. Guns, cars, bicycles…doesn’t matter — anything, really. As if used is somehow not as good, is damaged or is missing the right aura. To them, if it’s not new, it just isn’t right. For those people, I write the following report; as proof that used things are not all bad. This is one of my better experiences with used stuff.

A couple months ago, I bought a used Air Arms S410E bolt-action .22-caliber (FAC version) air rifle from the Yellow Forum classifieds. It showed great promise while I was shooting it and getting to know it in my basement’s 9.50-yard range, but I longed to try it out at a longer range in a relaxed setting, like my backyard. My neighbors are mostly okay with me shooting outside. To make sure they aren’t bothered, I wait to shoot until I have days off during the week when they’re at work.

Dave's new Air Arms S410E
Dave’s new/old Air Arms S410E air rifle.

I can get a measured 27 yards from the end of my muzzle on my kitchen countertop to the target near the back fence. A friend recently gave me a mechanical rifle rest that he wasn’t using anymore, so I gave that a try. The countertop makes for a nice place to put the rest when you clamp a wide board to it. I usually shoot off a monopod while standing or sitting, so this was much more solid than what I’m used to.

Dave's range
Shooting range from behind the rifle. Sshhh! Don’t tell the wife.

Here’s a look through the new scope I also got from the Yellow Forum classifieds (from a different guy). He bought it, never even took it out of the box and decided to sell it. It has a range-estimating reticle and mil-dots that I have yet to learn to use. So far, I just use the sidewheel focus knob. It seems close enough for government work. There are 36 colors for the reticle illumination! Haven’t tried those out, either.

view through the scope

The view through new, secondhand scope (bought from Yellow but the box was still factory sealed) — UTG Accushot SWAT IE 3-12x44mm, IR, side focus, 30mm tube and set on about 7x. Looks out of focus on the picture, but it’s really clear and in focus when looking through it with my eyes. Sidewheel set on about 26 yds, so it’s not too far off on the factory markings after adjusting the diopter for my eyes.

My backstop is a piece of plywood behind an old crate, and inside — you guessed it — a pile of phone books still in their wrappers!

Backstop at 27 yards.

OK, on to business….

When I received my gun, I immediately pumped it up to its maximum fill of 200 bar (approximately 2900 psi) and started the chronograph testing. Blog reader Kevin Lentz accurately predicted that the sweet spot on the fill would be about 180-190 Bar. Above that, the valve is getting air locked, reducing the velocity of the pellets. I didn’t save the results from my chronograph, a Competition Electronics ProChronoDigital, but I did figure the muzzle energy with each string’s average using this Pyramyd Air’s handy online calculator. With various pellets, it produces anywhere from 26 to 30+ foot-pounds. Lighter pellets generate less, and the heavier ones generate more energy, as is typical with a PCP airgun. This gun doesn’t really start falling off the pressure curve (losing power and velocity) until around 110-120 bar (about 1600 psi), after 60 or more shots.

Pumping it back up to around 190 bar on the gauge takes somewhere around 150 strokes of my Benjamin hand pump. Sounds like a lot, huh? It’s really only 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 pump strokes per shot. I’d call that pretty efficient in terms of energy transfer! While pumping the gun up, I noticed that the gauge on my pump and the gauge on the gun disagreed, so I go by the higher of the two readings just to be safe. That happens to be from the gauge on my pump. During the last couple of months since I received the gun, it hasn’t leaked down any noticeable amount, so I think we’re good there. Chalk one up for used equipment!

What about the accuracy? That’s what airgunning is all about isn’t it? OK, then, on to the shooting results.

At 27 yards on a mostly windless day and shooting off my mechanical rest, I think it does well. As I said, the mechanical rifle rest is a lot more solid than what I’m accustomed to. It doesn’t adjust from side to side except by sliding the back end around, but it has a very fine elevation screw, allowing me to dial in the height very easily. It also has very thick felt v-pads on the front and rear to allow a non-marring, but freely sliding surface to support both the forearm and the butt of the rifle. While shooting my groups, I was also adjusting the scope a bit to get it closer to what I wanted. The clip on this gun holds 10 rounds, so it’s easy to shoot groups of 10. I’ll give both edge-to-edge and center-to-center group measurements for your comprehension. Generally speaking, I think that center-to-center is the standard.

My first group with .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo, 5.52mm head, 15.9-grain domed pellets measures about 5/8″ from edge-to-edge, giving me just over 3/8″ center-to-center. You might notice I don’t use calipers. Although I own several, I just use a tape for my groups since that’s usually what I have handy. This same pellet duplicated this group a couple of clips later and is the best pellet of the 4 types shot today at this distance.

Used airguns
First group of the day, 10 rounds. It’s also the 2nd best of the day!

My second group was with Air Arms Falcon pellets, 5.52mm head, 13.43-grains, domed pellets. These gave me a 10-shot group of 11/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 7/16″ center-to-center.

Used airguns
The second group was with JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes. It’s pretty good!

The third group was with Crosman Premier .22, 5.50mm head, domed pellets. These are from the box, not the tin. These weren’t terrible at 13/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 9/16″ center-to-center. I think I’ve found something other than my 2240 that will shoot these CP’s with acceptable accuracy!

The fourth group was from the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy, 5.50mm head, 18.1 grain, domed pellets. At 5/8″ edge-to-edge, or about 3/8″ center-to-center, these matched the 15.89-grain JSBs. Two good choices!

My fifth group was a repeat with the JSB Exact Jumbo .22, 5.52mm head, 15.89-grain, domed pellets from the first group. This was my best group of the day at 9/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 5/16″ center-to-center!

My sixth group was a repeat with the JSB Exact Jumbos from the first and fifth group. I just wanted to verify that I was sighted in at 27 yards. This group is in the upper left of the following picture. The group size is a bit larger due to the fact that I shot away my aim point.

Used airguns
Six 10-shot groups on one fill. One-hundred fifty strokes of the Benjamin handpump to refill to 190 bar from about 110-120 bar. I think that the JSB Exact Jumbo 15.89-grain pellet is the winner of the day. Last group is upper left after scope adjustments.

As you can see, each of the six groups can be completely or almost completely covered by a dime. The largest can be covered with a nickel. All are pretty round, and these are consecutive group; so I’d say this rifle isn’t too pellet picky. Cost for this set-up was less than $600 for the gun and 2 clips plus $100 for the scope. The Accushot scope mounts I already had laying around. All of the pellets that I used today were purchased from Pyramyd Air at one time or another. Can’t beat their 4 for the price of 3 deal!

Am I happy with this gun? Absolutely! But, back to the original question: “Can you get a good, used gun?” Of course! This isn’t my only used gun purchase. Nearly all of my higher end guns are used (I call them higher end but, in fact, they’re more middle range), either acquired from the Yellow Forum classifieds or from Pyramyd Air’s Reman/Refurb/Open Box or Used Gun section. Either I’ve had great luck or this is the norm for me, with the bad apples being the occasional exception.

One of the things that ups my success versus “oops, I shouldn’t have done that” rate is research. In this case, I’d witnessed an S410 FAC sidelever in action. I know that Air Arms has a pretty much stellar reputation; and, from looking at going prices, I knew this one was a pretty good deal — even if it is a bolt-action and the stock isn’t walnut. Not a screaming deal; but at arm’s length, everyone walks away happy deal. I also buy new guns and other things, but I fully intend to keep saving money by careful shopping in the used, remanufactured and refurbished aisles! So can you. You’ll need just a little patience and act quickly when you notice something!