Hatsan 125TH air rifle combo: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Hatsan’s new 125TH breakbarrel is a large, powerful spring-piston air rifle.

Today, I’ll report on the Hatsan 125TH’s accuracy using open sights. It was a day of learning the rifle, and a lot was discovered. In the next report, I’ll mount the scope that comes with the rifle and test it again. But today it’s open sights all the way. When you read tomorrow’s report, you’ll understand how appropriate this test is.

The 125TH has a post-and-bead sight with TruGlo fiberoptic inserts. Fiberoptics are a poor choice for precision shooting because they cover too much of the target to aim precisely; but when you shoot outdoors on a bright day, they’re quick to acquire. Out to 25 yards, they’re adequate; but never choose them for long-range shooting or for hunting in the woods.

The rear notch on the 125TH is too small for the size of the front bead — hence I found it difficult to see any light on either side of the post when sighting. I also discovered that the barrel is drooping quite a lot; because even with the rear sight adjusted as high as it will go, I was still shooting below the aim point at 25 yards. That won’t get any better at longer distances, either. So, I think a scope will be better if I can get it to accommodate the droop as much as I need.

Beeman Kodiaks
The first pellet I tested for accuracy was the Beeman Kodiak. I selected them because I knew they wouldn’t break the sound barrier, and I was shooting inside the house. The distance was 25 yards, and I used a 10-meter pistol target. The hold was at 6 o’clock on the bull. The first group was the best one of the day. It won’t look that good to you, but I learned a lot from it.

Ten Beeman Kodiaks groups in this 1.272-inch group at 25 meters. Notice that the group is taller than it is wide. That’s important.

The group was 1.272 inches between centers, but it was taller than it was wide. The width is only 0.956 inches. This a characteristic that holds throughout this session.

Pellets that didn’t work
I tried JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes that went supersonic, but they were not grouping well. And Air Arms domes that also weigh 8.4 grains are equally bad. Both pellets broke the sound barrier and gave quite a crack as they went downrange.

The absolute worst pellet of all was the H&N Rabbit Magnum II. For starters, it’s designed with straight walls, so you can’t load it into the breech of a breakbarrel. You have to have something to press it in because your thumb isn’t hard enough to push it to engrave the rifling on the sides of the pellet. But I knew that going in. The first shot was about four inches higher on the target than any other pellet, and I hoped that I had found the miracle pellet for this rifle. Alas, the second pellet dropped about a foot (12 inches) at 25 yards, went through the reflector of my spotlight and popped the light bulb! Needless to say, I stopped shooting those pellets at that point.

Crosman Premier heavies
I figured the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy pellet might do well, so I gave it a try. They grouped in 2.111 inches overall, but side-to-side the group was just 1.34 inches. Again, the group was taller than wide. I’m tempted to try this pellet again when the rifle is scoped.

Wrong hold?
I tried a different hold with the Kodiaks that were the most accurate pellet to this point. This time the group measured 1.71 inches between centers, but the width was only 1.152 inches. Again, taller than wide.

This second group of Kodiaks were shot using a different artillery hold, but it’s also taller than it is wide.

So, the hold didn’t improve things, but it’s now clear that the open sights are causing the problem. I’m not getting enough precision in the vertical orientation, which is why all the groups are significantly taller than they are wide. That means using a scope should show a marked improvement.

How the rifle feels
Whoever suggested trying to pull up on the trigger blade — I can’t do it because the thumbhole stock forces my hand to pull the trigger straight back. And the trigger is too heavy for good work. While there’s no creep in the second stage, there’s considerable travel that can be felt. I have the trigger adjusted as light as it will go, so this is a detractor.

The SAS works very well. I can feel some vibration with the shot, but it dies quickly, which must be attributed to the SAS.

The rifle recoils heavily. But it also rests very well on the flat of the hand, so it isn’t difficult to shoot. The best hold point is with the off hand touching the front of the triggerguard.

If the trigger were lighter, this rifle would be a pleasure to shoot. I’m getting used to the cocking effort needed, and I can’t wait to see how the rifle does with a scope.

A good day!
You might feel from these targets that I had a bad day, but with what I learned about the rifle I think I had a very good day. Next time, I’ll know two pellets to try going into the test, and I’ll also know the best hold to use. Until I did the pellet velocity versus accuracy test a couple weeks ago, I wouldn’t have known that it’s harmonics and not velocity that opens these groups. Let’s see what I can do with that newfound knowledge.

What is it?
Can any reader identify the tool in the photo below, and tell us what is it used for? It will play a part in an upcoming blog.

What is it?

Tech Force TF89 Contender breakbarrel: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, Edith has some announcements about some new promotions at Pyramyd Air.

Guys and gals…Halloween isn’t even here, yet, but I’m going to tell you about some early Christmas shopping ideas that will save you some money and get you some free goodies. For starters, you can get some free clips when ordering the Walther PPK/S CO2 BB pistol.

Want a free rechargeable flashlight? Get one when you order one of these Umarex CO2 guns. The really neat part about this flashlight is that it plugs into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter and stays there, charging while you drive. Turn off the car, and it stops charging. Click here to read about this clever little flashlight. Keep the flashlight for yourself or save it for a Christmas gift.

Lastly, prices on some Umarex guns have dropped. An opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping and save some money, or maybe an excuse to buy something new for yourself. Whatever you decide, my lips are sealed.

Now, on to today’s blog.

Part 1
Part 2

Tech Force Contender TF89 is a large, powerful breakbarrel spring rifle.

Today is accuracy day for the TF 89 Contender test. I expected the test of this rifle to be a walk in the park based on my previous experience with it, but it wasn’t. In fact, I’m going to do a part 4 with additional accuracy testing, because I think the rifle has more to offer than I saw during this test.

What do we know about the TF89? Well, it’s a very powerful .177 spring rifle, and that means there’s a lot to be overcome. The fact that it’s a breakbarrel means it probably requires a very sensitive hold. Apparently it does, and I haven’t quite found it yet.

Since it’s very powerful and also in .177 caliber, most pellets will go too fast for the best accuracy. I’ll have to shoot heavier pellets to get the velocity down below the transonic region.

I knew going into the test that the trigger wasn’t the best — and it isn’t — but you can adapt to it. The second-stage pull is long and creepy, but not so much that it affects accuracy.

Before the test, I reread Part 2 to see how fast the rifle shoots. It’s a real scorcher! I started with Beeman Kodiak pellets, and in the end they turned out to have the greatest potential of all the seven pellet types I tried. Remember that I’m shooting 10-shot groups, and I shot four of them with Kodiaks, alone; so this test went through a lot of pellets and targets.

The test was at 25 yards. The rifle was rested, and I tried several variations of the artillery hold, as well as resting the rifle directly on the bag and also holding the rifle firmly. The best hold, which was confirmed several times, was resting the stock on the flat of my palm as it touched the triggerguard. I shifted the open palm forward on the stock, but all that did was open the groups and move the point of impact.

The setup
I scoped the rifle with a Leapers 3-9x50AO scope with a red/green illuminated reticle and mil-dots. I like the clarity of this scope for the price and also the fine reticle wires that don’t obliterate too much of the target. Though I shot this test at 25 yards, I would use this scope out to 100 yards with few reservations.

I mounted the scope in BKL 2-piece high rings that gave more than enough clearance for the large objective bell over the spring tube. I might have gotten by with BKL medium-height rings of the same configuration, but it seemed too close to call. Actually, because the TF89 comes with a scope stop on the spring tube, I didn’t need to use BKL ring; but since I switch around scopes so often, I keep this one in those rings in case the extra clamping power is needed.

The test
As I said, the first group was shot with Beeman Kodiaks. They acted like they wanted to group well, but there was something I wasn’t doing quite right. A second group with the same pellet gave similar results. Then I started experimenting.

Ten Beeman Kodiak pellets made this group at 25 yards, which measures 0.797 inches between centers. This first group of Kodiaks gave me hope that the rifle can shoot.

The other pellets I tried were these:

Beeman Trophy
The Beeman Trophy pellet is no longer available, but it’s the same as the H&N Field Target Trophy. At 8.4 grains, this dome goes too fast for accuracy, which is why it shot groups larger than one inch at 25 yards.

Beeman Kodiak Hollowpoint
The Beeman Kodiak Hollowpoint pellets fit the breech tighter than other pellets. I hoped that would make a positive difference, but it didn’t seem to. However, even though the group was over one inch, it was while I was using a hold that turned out not to be optimum. In the next test, I’ll try this pellet again.

Ten Crosman Premier heavy pellets made this 0.906-inch group. It looks too open, but it’s also round enough to make me want to try this pellet again.

Crosman Premier heavy
The 10.5-grain Crosman Premier pellet is normally not used in a spring gun, due to the weight, but I tried it this time, just to see what it might do. The group was larger, but round enough to make me want to try this pellet again.

Crosman Premier lite
As fast as the TF 89 shoots, I figured there was no chance for accuracy with the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet, but since I was experimenting, I gave it a try anyway. As suspected, it was no dice. The pellets were all over the place. But I had to try.

JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes
Sometimes, when the Beeman Kodiak does well in a rifle, it also shoots the JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome pellet. Not this time, though. I didn’t even finish the 10-shot group.

Eun Jin heavies
Just to say I did, I also tried the Eun Jin 16.1-grain dome. Once again, it was no dice, as the 10-shot group measured over an inch at 25 yards.

I returned to the Beeman Kodiaks, thinking that, by this time, I surely was in the groove with this rifle. But my last group wasn’t as good as my first, which is an indication that I’m getting tired. After shooting more than 100 shots on a rifle that cocks with 42 lbs. of effort I would say I had cause to be a little tired at this point.

The final group was large, but it also tantalized me with six shots that went into a very tight sub-group measuring 0.413 inches between centers. That’s what convinced me that this rifle wants to shoot, but I haven’t quite got it together, yet. I’ll do another accuracy test after cleaning the barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound and giving the rifle a once-over checkup to see if I’ve left any stone unturned. It seems only fair in light of the evidence.

That six or even seven-shot cluster is too tantalizing to ignore. Ten final Beeman Kodiak pellets at 25 yards. I’ll be back to test this rifle, again.

What would B.B. do? Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

My rifle is a lot longer than the standard Talon SS. It has a 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and an aftermarket silencer tube that extends the frame of the gun past the muzzle. I’ll tell you about the scope in part 3 of this report.

Today, I’ll sample the velocity of my .22-caliber AirForce Talon SS with its optional 24-inch barrel. I cannot do a complete velocity test on this rifle, and neither can you. There aren’t that many years in any of our lives. This rifle has adjustable power and can therefore be “tuned” to do a remarkable number of things. And, with the 24-inch optional barrel, it becomes even more powerful and flexible.

This will just be a sampling to demonstrate the broad flexibility of this air rifle. I started with my favorite setting, which I cannot tell with any precision because my frame has no power scale. That drives airgunners nuts, because they like to trade “favorite” power settings for AirForce airguns like kids with baseball cards. You read on the forums that so-and-so shot well with the power set to 10.12. What that means is the gross power setting was at power level 10 and the power wheel scale was on the number 12. Too bad that information is next to meaningless!

My power adjustment has no scale. It’s the slot on the right with the Allen screw showing. The center of the screw head is the power setting, and this is about on the number 4, if the scale was there. The numbers on the wheel at the left are for smaller adjustments and there would be an index line at the left of the power window.

Here is the regular Talon SS power adjuster, so you can compare the numbers in the report.

It’s almost meaningless because these guns are all individuals. They develop vastly different power when set to the same settings. But my gun is a very early one that never had the power scale engraved on the side of the frame, so I simply guess where the gun is. I’ve gotten to know this rifle so well over the years that my guess ends up within about 20 f.p.s. because I know how my particular rifle performs.

Therefore, what I’ll now tell you will relate to a gun that does have a power scale, because I’ve memorized the positions of those numbers over the years. I just don’t use them.

When the 12-inch barrel is installed, I like to leave the power setting at around the number 4. That gives me about 750 f.p.s with 14.3-grain Crosman Premier domes that I shoot a lot. If I were to increase the setting to the number 10 with the same short barrel, my rifle would get around 830 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 21.88 foot-pounds.

When the 24-inch barrel is on the gun at the same power setting, the velocity of the same Premier pellet averages 840 f.p.s. and the velocity spread spans from 833 to 845 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 22.41 foot-pounds at this level. So, right there the gun is slightly more powerful on the low number 4 setting with the 24-inch barrel than it is on the high number 10 power setting with the 12-inch barrel. I’m saving a lot of air by making better use of it with the long barrel.

That’s about as fast as I like to go with Premiers because of barrel leading. Next, I boosted the power setting up to 10 to shoot the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy dome that could prove to be the most accurate pellet in this rifle. I’ve never tried them at distance in this rifle, so I’m learning right along with you as we go. The velocity at this power setting averaged 968 f.p.s. with a spread from 965 to 970 f.p.s. That means the rifle is now putting out 37.59 foot-pounds of energy on average. That could prove to be a very good place for this rifle, but I’ll need to get out to the range to see for sure.

The best it can do
Everybody wants to know how absolutely powerful this rifle can be with this longer barrel, and I’m sorry to say I don’t have the right pellets to test it. Eun Jin makes a 32.4-grain pointed pellet that would produce more muzzle energy than the Eun Jin 28.4-grain domes I have on hand. But even they averaged 822 f.p.s. with the rifle set as high as it would go. That’s an average of 42.62 foot-pounds. So, I think there’s little doubt that with the heaviest pellets this rifle will just top 45 foot-pounds. That’s what it did about six years ago when I tested it for AirForce. The velocity spread with the gun running wide open went from 812 to 832 f.p.s.

So what?
This is where those who’ve never owned an AirForce rifle get confused. They wonder what they should do or could do with a rifle that can go from very low to very high power. And, by the way, I didn’t show you how low this rifle can go, did I? With Crosman Premiers again on the lowest possible power setting, I get an average velocity of 474 f.p.s., ranging from 465 to 489 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 7.14 foot-pounds. In my opinion, that’s not a valuable number because I’d never shoot this rifle that slow. It isn’t as consistent down there and what’s the point? I have Diana 27 rifles that will do the same thing. I just tell you because people want to know.

In the upper velocities, however, there’s a real benefit to my rifle. First, when set to deliver 23 foot-pounds, this rifle is quieter than a Beeman R7. Boost the power up to 37 foot-pounds, and the rifle sounds like a Sheridan Blue Streak on five pumps. When it’s running all-out, it’s still quieter than a Blue Streak on 8 pumps. So, this is a quiet air rifle. How quiet? Well, it’s noticeably quieter than most .22 rimfires shooting CB caps. That’s pretty quiet.

How many shots per fill?
This is another question whose answer depends on what you’re doing with the rifle. But for 37 foot-pound shots, I would get about 30-35 good ones before things tapered off. On 23 foot-pounds, I get about 45 good shots per fill.

How I operate the rifle is to leave it set on one power level that’s sighted-in. That way I know when I pick up the gun it’s ready to go. Based on the outcome of this particular test, I may change the power setting in the future because I may find a more accurate pellet. We shall see!

And, here’s the really good news. All this testing I’m doing here is simply in preparation for a much larger test I have been planning for several years. Had I not gotten sick last year, I would be deep into that bigger test right now; but as it is, I’m just getting started.

Weihrauch HW 100 S FSB PCP rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This is the actual rifle I’m testing. Isn’t that wood beautiful?

Before I begin, at the end of this report there is a lengthy Q&A section in which Dr. Mirfee Ungier, wife of Pyramyd Air owner Joshua Ungier, answers a number of questions about protective eyewear and other related shooting issues. Dr. Ungier is a respected ophthalmologist with thousands of successful surgeries to her credit, and she agreed to answer readers’ questions about protective eyewear.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the HW 100 S FSB PCP air rifle I’m testing. Throughout this report, I’ve mentioned how impressed I am with this airgun for various reasons. It has the easiest-loading metal rotary clip in the business. You can see the pellets advance in the clip, and now I know that you can even see them when a scope is mounted. That makes the rifle very easy to manage — like knowing when you’re shooting the last shot. And, then, there’s the trigger! This one is perfect for me. It breaks cleanly at 8 oz. and has a positive two-stage release. I couldn’t ask for more.

The rifle is light, or at least it feels light when you hold it. The scale disagrees, but I can’t get away from the lightness I feel. Also, the stock happens to fit me perfectly. Though that’s a very personal thing, you can’t overlook it when it works out your way.

On the down side, I noted that the rifle recoils about the same as a heavy .22 rimfire rifle shooting standard speed ammo. It’s an unfamiliar feeling to have a smallbore PCP recoil. The shot count that the chronograph said could be as high as 38 shots on a fill actually turned out to be about 25, like I first noted. I will show you the evidence on two of the targets.

For this test, I mounted an older version of the Leapers 8-32x56AO scope that was used in the test of the Crosman Outdoorsman 2250. While it was too much scope for the little carbine, it was a perfect fit on the Weihrauch PCP. And, it allowed me to see the bulls at 50 yards very clearly. It was mounted in two-piece B-Square adjustable scope mounts that are no longer available. I’ll soon be showing you a new adjustable scope mount that may solve your scope adjustment problems, in case you do not already own one of these vintage American-made B-Squares.

On the big HW 100, the Leapers 8-32×56 looks right. It’s mounted in a vintage high B-Square adjustable mount that’s no longer available.

Accurate right from the get-go
I enjoy shooting accurate guns, because they cooperate to produce such wonderful results with so little work. The HW 100 is one of those. Even the sight-in group was impressive enough to show you. I selected the 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Exact Heavy as my sight-in pellet, simply because one owner said he got such good results with it in his .22 rifle.

This is the sight-in group — the first 10 shots made after the scope was mounted. It’s ten 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbos at 50 yards and it measures 0.795 inches between centers. It’s the largest group fired with this pellet.

Then, I settled down and shot a couple more groups with the same pellet. I’d adjusted the point of impact to the exact center of the crosshairs, so on the first group I shot out the aiming point with the first couple shots.

Ten more JSB Exact Jumbos went into this group, which measures 0.667 inches between centers. This is a phenomenal group. After the first couple shots, I had to estimate the location of the center of the bull because it had been shot away.

Learned something important
I tried to shoot a third group of 10 shots, and this is when I learned that the HW 100 doesn’t like to shoot that many shots per fill. At least, it doesn’t if you expect accuracy at 50 yards. Look at the grouping and I will explain.

The first two shots went through the center of the bull. The next two shots are at 5 o’clock on the edge of the black. The rifle is now low on air and the point of impact just shifted as a result. This is part of the proof I mentioned in the beginning of this report that the rifle falls off the performance curve very suddenly.

It occurred to me that I may not have filled the rifle to the exact maximum on the first fill. Taking that into account, I watched the rifle’s manometer as I filled the reservoir the second time, and stopped exactly when it hit the top of the green area, which is an indicated 200 bar or 2,900 psi. But as you will see, the needle is quite fat and a bit imprecise.

The onboard manometer (pressure gauge) is located on the end of the air reservoir, where it can be seen easily during a fill.

On the second round, I learned another important thing. This rifle is slightly overfilled when the needle on the manometer is pointing at the max fill spot. In other words, I should have learned where the right high end point was on my more accurate tank gauge and stopped there, because I’ll show you what happened.

On the next group, the first two shots were in the lower right portion of the bull, then they miraculously jumped back to where they belonged in the center. Even so, this was the tightest group of three shots with the JSB 18.1-grain Exact pellet.

The first two pellets went to the 5 o’clock position, while the other eight went closer to the point of aim. Even with this, the group measures only 0.571 inches between the centers of all 10 shots. It’s the best group of the test. This proves that the rifle needs to be exactly on the power curve to shoot its best. Omitting those two shots and the group shrinks to 0.368 inches. Remembering that most writers only shoot 5-shot groups for the record instead of 10, here are 8 that went well under half an inch!

Now I was on a roll and expected the other pellets to perform equally well. They didn’t though. After reading an owner’s report of the gun, I’d selected the best pellet for the rifle and started the test with it.

Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellets were the worst pellets of the four I tested. They grouped 10 shots into a startlingly large 1.907-inch group at the same 50 yards that JSB Jumbos had made a group less than one-third that size. They were a shock and disappointment, but also a reminder of just how sensitive an airgun can be when it comes to ammunition.

This group of Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellets was disappointing after the success of the JSB Jumbos. It measures 1.907 inches between centers.

Next, I tried the old favorite 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. At just 14.3 grains, it’s screaming downrange at the ragged edge of accurate velocity, and perhaps just a touch too fast. That’s why they gave a larger group that measured 1.225 inches for 10 shots.

Ten Crosman Premiers went into this group that measures 1.225 inches at 50 yards. It’s not that bad, but we already know this rifle is capable of much better.

The last pellet I tried was the equally brilliant JSB Exact 15-9-grain dome that works so well in a multitude of spring and PCP rifles. I expected great things from it. Alas, it was not to be.

Ten 15.9-grain JSB Exacts went into this group, which measures 1.187 inches between centers. It isn’t as good as I had hoped for this pellet.

Well, the results could not be any clearer. This rifle loves the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo to the exclusion of the other premium pellets I tried. It also develops the greatest power with this pellet, so nothing is lost by using it.

The HW 100 is also very sensitive to its fill pressure. As long as you stay within the boundaries, the rifle is capable of incredible accuracy; stray out on either side, and the pellets will wander.

The bottom line
If I could justify keeping this fine rifle, I would. But that isn’t going to happen. I already own several accurate PCPs, and my gun storage facility can only hold so much. So, we’ll be shipping it back to Pyramyd Air very soon. Whoever wants to own this particular beautiful tackdriver should request serial number 1921933.

Dr. Ungier’s answers
Now, we have some answers about protective eyewear questions and related topics from Dr. Mirfee Ungier.

Q. Is polycarbonate OK for the applications we are talking about (pellets and BB’s)?

A. Polycarbonate is more than OK as a safety glass material. ANSI standards have moved entirely to polycarbonate and away from plastics like CR39 (industrial plastic). It may scratch more easily, but maintains its integrity and protective function the best.

Q. If polycarbonate lenses take an impact, does that mean they’re done and you have to get new ones? I believe that’s what they tell us about bike helmets.

A. Polycarbonate can take impacts without cracking or chipping, but you do have to look at it. Especially rimless ones may chip. If there’s any visible defect, replace them. It is much cheaper than replacing an eye.

Q. What are the long-term effects on a person’s vision from frequent use of rifle scopes?

A. I am not aware of any downside of using scopes. People do all the time. If anyone using a scope notices a problem with their vision, they should, of course, get an eye exam. I think of people who use scopes are quite aware of what they are and are not seeing. When they come to me, they are usually better able to communicate than people who do not use their eyes as much. Using eyes is a good thing.

Q. What adverse effects can class III laser sights have on a person’s vision, and how much (or how little) exposure does it take for damage to occur?

A. I am not aware of a study regarding laser time exposure and damage to the eyes. These may not be at the nastier wavelengths, but all lasers by definition are highly coherent beams that can pack a punch. I use red beam aimers for directing other wavelengths into the eyes for therapeutic reasons, and I still try to avoid the center vision. Short glances into a laser scope will probably not cause harm in the short term, but we never recommend it, and you certainly wouldn’t play with them.

Q. What should we do if the unthinkable happens and someone is struck in the eye? What should we do while transporting the individual to the closest ER? What are the emergency first-aid procedures that we should follow?

A. If a serious eye injury occurs, there is no on-the-spot treatment you can do. In fact, most important is to not press on the eye. It is OK to shield it, but pressure could turn a bad injury into a worse one. Then proceed as quickly as possible to an emergency room in a hospital that is equipped to do eye surgery. Calling ahead to be sure would be great. If you are far off the beaten track, then any emergency facility would be OK. During working hours, you could see if there is an ophthalmologist (I mean ophthalmologist, not optometrist or optician, because we may be talking surgery) in town to examine and expedite treatment. Otherwise, call an optometrist for recommendation for the closest facility.

Q. I was wondering if the age of Tom’s old safety glasses could have contributed to their easy destruction. Do time and sunlight degrade the efficiency of protective safety glasses? For instance, what’s the shortest time period in which you should you trust the material integrity of your glasses and be safe while shooting?

A. Safety glasses scratch, age and degrade. Old ones are better than none, but my optician recommends replacing them at least every 2 years.

Weihrauch HW 100 S FSB PCP rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, I want to let you know that there are two new videos on Airgun Academy:

Episode 25 – Introduction to airgun calibers: Part 1
Episode 26 – Introduction to airgun safety: Part 1

There’s also a new podcast. This is a special one. It’s the interview with Dr. Robert Beeman, founder of Beeman Precision Airguns. Sorry this has taken so long, but Edith processes them and she had a few unavoidable delays getting this ready for publication.

On to today’s blog.

Part 1

This is the actual rifle I’m testing. Isn’t that wood beautiful?

Today, I’ll resume our look at the HW 100S FSB PCP air rifle. For what I am about to do, I apologize: By the end of this section of the report, several of you will want to get this rifle.

This is velocity day and we have two things to test. First, we’ll be testing the velocity of the rifle with three popular brands of .22 caliber pellets. Based on the published energy potential of the rifle (26 foot-pounds), I’ve selected the Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellet for its weight of 21.1 grains. I’ve tested this pellet in other rifles and found it to be just as accurate as the all-lead Kodiak, so I felt this was an appropriate pellet to test. It just barely clears the repeating mechanism, front and rear, so it’s probably at the upper limit of pellet weights for use in this rifle in the repeating mode. If you obtain the optional single-shot adapter, you could load longer, heavier pellets.

The second pellet I chose was the 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Exact Heavy. Not only is this a good pellet in powerful guns, it also got at least one good mention in the customer reviews of this gun.

The third pellet I selected was the venerable 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. I wouldn’t normally select a pellet this light for a rifle rated at 26 foot-pounds, but the Premier is such a well-known pellet that I felt it had to be included. Unfortunately for me that choice cost me dearly, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Loading the circular clip for this rifle is quite easy. A mark on the outside of the clip tells you where you are, plus I was able to see the pellets as they fed into the breech since I haven’t mounted a scope yet. When installed in the gun, the clip rotates clockwise, so you always know to load pellets to the left of the outer mark on the magazine. The clip removes and installs easier than any circular clip I’ve ever used in a PCP rifle. And, the cocking sidelever is equally smooth and easy. I found the HW 100S FSB to be the epitome of a smooth-shooting PCP.

Two 14-round clips come with the rifle. Pellets are loaded from the back of the clip, shown on the right. The indexing line discussed in the report can be seen on the edges of both clips.

Discharge sound
This is not a quiet air rifle! The sound at discharge is approximately the same as a Sheridan Blue Streak or Benjamin 392 on 8 pumps. It really cracks! We must take into account that the rifle is generating more than twice the power of the multi-pumps, but I think the sound will bother those shooters who want perfect quiet from their guns.

The first pellet tested was the Beeman Kodiak Copper-Plated pellet. They averaged 799 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 29.92 foot-pounds, so the advertised 26 foot-pounds is very conservative. The velocity ranged from a low of 789 to a high of 805 f.p.s., for a the total spread was 16 f.p.s. I will be interested to see how accurate this pellet will be, because it really delivers the power.

Next, I tested the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. They’re shorter than the Kodiaks, so they fit the clip much better. They averaged 874 f.p.s., which calculates to a muzzle energy of 30.71 foot-pounds. That is an increase over the heavier Kodiaks! Normally heavier pellets are more efficient in PCPs, but we’ve just encountered an exception. The velocity spread went from 872 to 878 f.p.s., so just six feet per second between the slowest and fastest shot. That’s really amazing.

Normally, I would address the trigger in Part 3, when I test accuracy, but I just couldn’t wait that long. It’s a two-stage pull and releases with just 8 oz. of pressure. This is a TRIGGER! I feel like I’ll be able to do wonderful things with this rifle because of this light, crisp predictable trigger. You can forget about me adjusting it, because it’s perfect right now. In fact, I’ll make a confession about this trigger.

This trigger is so beautiful that it made me do something about my 1886 Ballard trigger. As nice and accurate as the Ballard rifle is, its single-stage trigger releases with 7 lbs., 6 oz. of pressure! That’s simply too much weight for good target accuracy. I’ve contacted the Ballard Arms Company to inquire if they can make and fit a double-set trigger into my rifle without altering the rifle in any way. I want to retain the original trigger in original condition, and I want no original parts to be worked on, but I would like to have a better trigger in that rifle. I had it out at the range last week and the best I could do for 10 shots was just under two inches at 100 yards. I know that a better trigger could shave that considerably.

So, if I end up selling you on this HW 100, please bear in mind that it has already cost me money. I doubt your wife will appreciate my situation, however.

On with the velocity test
The third and final pellet I tested in the rifle was the Crosman Premier. Since the gun fell off the power curve after shot 25, I will not report the average for this pellet. Instead, I’ll show you all ten velocities.


It’s pretty obvious to me that the power fell off after the fifth shot. With the first two strings added in, that makes a total number of 25 shots on the first fill. You could argue that the next few shots are all close enough in velocity that this drop-off doesn’t really matter — and perhaps 30 total shots are possible. Okay, I won’t argue that. But that’s about it for one fill. The manometer needle has dropped to the lowest portion of the green (good) sector, so the reservoir needs to be refilled.

My bad day!
I had just relined my silent pellet trap with fresh duct seal before testing this rifle. The tens of thousands of smashed lead pellets that normally help retard each shot were not present. I also write a daily blog on airguns, and in my safety lectures I often tell my readers that a powerful airgun will shoot through a backstop if you shoot too many shots in the same place.

But I didn’t think it could happen to ME! Certainly not TWICE!

You see, I shot through another silent pellet trap that was made by another airgun dealer and given to me as a gift several years ago. But that trap had no steel plate backing the duct seal. A trap I made myself (using Edith’s best cookie sheet) did. I shot all the way through the new duct seal and through the steel backing plate and into the wall behind the trap!

Take a close look at the string of holes on the right. See the bunch of four near the top of that string? Those were the Premiers that punched through the duct seal in the trap, the steel plate backer, the half-inch plywood behind that and embedded in my office wall.

And that’s what it looks like when a pellet blows through a silent pellet trap! In this photo you can even see the steel plate and the half-inch of plywood that failed to stop the pellet after it penetrated two inches of duct seal.

So, kiddies, do as B.B. says and not as he does. For gosh sakes, a 30 foot-pound PCP is almost like shooting a .22 short — especially at close range. I will now have to resort to the homemade pellet trap that was given to me by Jim Contos earlier this year. It has twice as much steel backer plate inside, plus the container is PVC and not wood. I think it can do the job. It better, because I’m running out of spackle for the walls!

On the other hand — are you impressed? I know I am. This HW 100S FSB is an extremely powerful air rifle to be able to blast through a trap like mine that has stopped long rifle bullets (when it was loaded with spent lead pellets).

Premier velocity revisited
Now that all the fuss is out of the way, I refilled the reservoir and shot another string of Crosman Premiers. They averaged 956 f.p.s., which means they generated a muzzle energy of 29.03 foot-pounds. The rifle is most definitely a 30 foot-pound gun. The spread this time was from 954 to 959 f.p.s., so only five f.p.s. between the two extremes. Continuing to shoot Premiers netted me a total of 38 full-power shots, so the advertised number of 40 seems reasonable. Perhaps the rifle wasn’t quite full on the first fill.

What do I think?
At this point I think I’ve got a tiger by the tail. I think this HW 100S FSB could turn out to be one of the all-time best PCP rifles I’ve ever tested. Yes, it’s expensive, but so are many other rifles it competes with. We’ll have to wait and see on the accuracy, but I’m very impressed at this point.

RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft in .177: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2

The RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft is a powerful magnum spring rifle. Today, we’ll begin the accuracy test.

Get ready to learn!
Today’s blog about the .177 RWS 350 Feuerkraft air rifle is going to be very educational, especially for newer shooters. What you’re about to see is a comparison of the potential accuracy when using fiberoptic sights, and then the same gun with the same pellet but using a precision peep sight and a solid black front post.

Because of the length of time this test took, we won’t explore the rifle’s accuracy with a scope today. That will be reported on in a special Part 4 report.

Fiberoptic sights
The 350 Feuerkraft has fiberoptic open sights, front and rear. Fiberoptic sights have special light-gathering tubes inserted in them. When you sight the gun, you see a red dot for the front sight and two green dots for the rear. This type of sight is designed to be very fast to acquire, so hunters use them for rapid acquisition in the field. But there’s a tradeoff.

These two green dots in the rear are supposed to frame the one red dot from the front.

This is the thousand-word picture. Here you see the enlarged front fiberoptic tube that presents a wide dot to the shooter to use as an aim point. With this much width, coupled with the imprecision of locating this dot exactly in the center of the two green rear dots, the shooter has no chance for a precise aiming point. The best you get is a general location.

Less precision
The tradeoff is a loss of precision. Because of the size of the optical dots and the difficulty in centering them exactly the same every time, your sight picture allows for several minutes of slop in all directions. In other words, you can be several inches off with every shot at 100 yards. That won’t matter to a deer hunter who is looking to make a quick shot at an eight-inch wide kill zone. But a target shooter could not do so well with that kind of setup.

As airgunners, we don’t shoot at 100 yards very often, and the amount of slop diminishes as the target gets closer. If there’s a four-minute slop at 100 yards, you would be unable to sight any closer than four inches at 100 yards. So, at 25 yards you would have a one-inch error in your aim point. Some hunters can tolerate that much sighting error, but airgunners often can’t, so you need to give this some thought. Let’s see what Mac experienced.

Ten 10.5-grain Crosman Premier pellets made this 2-inch group with the 350 Feuerkraft rifle at 30 yards. This target is a 10-meter pistol target, which Mac needed because he was using open sights at 30 yards.

Ten 9.3-grain RWS Supermag pellets made this 2-inch group at 30 yards. This wadcutter pellet cuts a nice round hole.

Ten JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes made this 1.5-inch group at 30 yards. This was the best group of the test with fiberoptic sights.

Okay, it’s easy to see that Mac is getting between 1.5 and 2 inches for 10 shots at 30 yards with the standard fiberoptic open sights that come on the 350 Feuerkraft. You probably don’t think that’s very good, and I would have to agree. But, let’s not condemn the rifle for this, because it’s not the rifle’s fault.

Kill the fiberoptics and switch to peep sights
Both Mac and I knew the rifle should be more accurate than this. And, we both know that fiberoptic sights are less than precise. Mac had a good idea — mount a peep sight on the rifle and shoot more groups. I told him my method for turning fiberoptic sights into plain sights by changing the lighting. As long as bright light doesn’t fall on the fiberoptic tubes, they don’t glow. Then the sights act just like regular open sights. In this case, Mac removed the rear sight and used a Mendoza peep sight with the front sight of the rifle. By not allowing light to fall on the front sight, he turned it into a black post that he was able to use like any other front target post. The difference in the results is stunning!

Here are 10 shots with the same JSB Exact heavy pellet and the same 350 Feuerkraft rifle at the same 30 yards. This group measures 0.66 inches center-to-center. Pretty dramatic change, no?

Mac shot a couple of groups; but since the temperature was just 16 degrees, he didn’t test all pellets. He chose to use the pellet that had been the most accurate in the first test, and the group shown was the best group he got, though he says they were all sized similarly.

Amazing difference!
This test shows two things very clearly. First, it shows that fiberoptic open sights are not very precise. That’s why I’ve objected to their use on air rifles for so many years. We need enough accuracy to hit ants at 25 yards, and fiberoptic sights have only tin-can accuracy at that distance. That should be very plain and clear to everyone who’s read this report. Mac is a great shooter, as we have seen over the past several months, and fiberoptics were a huge limiting factor to shooting the 350 Feuerkraft well.

The second thing to take away from this report is that the 350 Feuerkraft is a very accurate spring rifle. Putting 10 shots into 0.66 inches at 30 yards is equivalent to putting 5 into a third of an inch at the same distance. So, this rifle can shoot! No question about that. Mac suffered a scope failure when he was testing the rifle with a scope, though he did get a couple half-inch 10-shot groups before that happened. We’re getting him a replacement scope for a part four report.

RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft in .177: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

The RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft is a budget version of the 350 Magnum powerplant. It still comes with open sights, so nothing more to buy.

Today, we’ll look at the velocity Mac got from his .177 Feuerkraft 350. Mac is a fan of the .177 caliber because of the high velocity. He wants his rifle to shoot flat so he doesn’t have to guess the range to the target as closely, and a .177 gives him the highest velocity.

He also wants a big punch at the target. In that, he’s a lot like many of you — wanting both speed and knockdown power. As a result, he tests all powerful .177s with the heaviest pellets he can find. In this case, they’re the 16.1-grain Eun Jin domes.

When he was ready to test them, Mac discovered that the Eun Jins appeared to have many flaws. For starters, they appeared to him to have come from four different dies. Let interject something at this point. One pellet die does not make just one pellet at a time. It makes 50 or 100 pellets at a time. What Mac may have seen was a gross inconsistency from pellet cavity to pellet cavity in one die. When he tested them for accuracy, he sorted them by weight and, I suppose, by appearance. When he tested velocity, which we’re looking at today, he did not sort the pellets.

Eun Jin pellets
Mac got an average of 682 f.p.s. from the Eun Jin pellets in the Feuerkraft 350. The spread was 18 f.p.s., from 673 to 691 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 16.63 foot-pounds, which Mac feels is disappointing for such a potentially powerful air rifle. I’d like to point out that unless the rifle has been tuned to shoot heavy pellets, a spring rifle will almost always be more efficient with the lighter pellets. To tune for the heavier pellets, the piston’s weight must be increased, but the factory builds it to shoot average weight pellets.

JSB Exact heavy pellets
The next pellet Mac tried was the 10.2-grain JSB Exact dome — the one we call the heavy. It gave an average 938 f.p.s., with a range that reached from 933 to 943 f.p.s. A spread of only 10 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 19.93 foot-pounds, which you can see is a considerable gain over the Eun Jins.

RWS Superdome pellets
Next, Mac tried his favorite — RWS Superdomes. These 8.3-grain pellets averaged 1039 f.p.s,. with a range from 1028 to 1050 f.p.s., a spread of 22 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 19.92 foot-pounds, or very close to what the JSB Exact heavies gave. With that high velocity, I don’t expect much accuracy from them.

RWS Supermag pellets
The 9.3-grain RWS Supermag pellet is a heavy wadcutter that sometimes tames the more powerful spring guns by virtue of its weight. In the Feuerkraft 350, they averaged 955 f.p.s. with an 11 foot-second spread from 951 to 962 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 18.82 foot-pounds. This is good velocity performance, though it may mean nothing when we test the accuracy. That’s why both things must be considered before we can tell what the best pellet is for a given rifle.

RWS Hobby pellets
For a lightweight pellet, Mac tried the old standby RWS Hobby, a 7-grain lead pellet that averaged 1145 f.p.s. in this rifle. The spread went from 1130 to 1160 f.p.s., for a total of 30 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 20.38 foot-pounds, which was the highest energy noted during this test. Mac also noted that the pellets fit loose in the breech, though the skirts were undoubtedly blown out into the rifling upon firing.

Crosman Premier heavy pellets
Mac tried the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy domed pellet next. It averaged 891 f.p.s. and the spread ranged from 874 to 911 f.p.s., for a total of 37 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 18.49 foot-pounds. The fit in the bore was tight, which I attribute to the harder lead alloy of the pellet.

RWS HyperMAX pellets
Finally, Mac tried the non-lead RWS HyperMAX pellet. These 5.2-grain wadcutters are designed to get the highest velocity out of a powerful air rifle. They averaged 1293 f.p.s in the Fewuerkraft 350 and the 24 f.p.s. spread went from 1277 to 1301 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy worked out to 19.31 foot-pounds. At this velocity, these pellets should not be very accurate. They also fit the breech very loosely.

Well, that’s a fairly complete test of the potential power of a .177 RWS Diana Feuerkraft 350. As you can see, the lighter .177 pellets are scraping up against the upper boundaries of velocity, where best accuracy is concerned. And some of them go past the limit into the no man’s land of transsonic and even supersonic flight. Those should not give much accuracy at all.

Next time w’ell test the accuracy of this rifle. Because it’s a Diana, I’m thinking it’ll do fairly well when the velocity is kept below 1,000 f.p.s. But, we’ll see.