FX Dreamlite precharged air rifle: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

FX Dreamlite
FX Dreamlite precharged pneumatic rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 1 UTG 4-16 OP3 Compact scope
Part 5

This report covers:

  • Unscheduled test
  • Small magazine flops around
  • Quick review
  • The bad
  • Sight in
  • The test
  • Group 1
  • Meopta reticle
  • Adjusted the scope
  • Group 2
  • Group 3
  • Superdomes
  • Group 4
  • Group 5
  • Group 6
  • Oh, NO!
  • What’s next?
  • Summary

Unscheduled test

This is an unscheduled test. I looked at the .177-caliber FX Dreamlite and realized that I had been hard on it in past tests. The poor manual (that has since been fixed), the confusing power adjuster (that is not fixed and still confusing) and the rifle’s seeming inability to group with any but a couple selected pellets put me off. But at the root of my bias was the large 21-shot circular magazine that comes with the rifle. Who in their right mind wants 21 shots in a magazine — especially when it makes the mag as large as a dinner plate? That is a rhetorical question. I know there are lots of shooters who want 21 shots in their magazines. But not me.

One reader suggested that I try the 13-shot mag that is sized more normally. Another suggested that I look at a single-shot loading tray. I looked online and, sure enough, both items do exist for the Dreamlite. I ordered them, only to discover that the single-shot tray wan’t available at the time of my order. But I received the 13-shot mag last week.

Then I thought — what if I mounted the new Meopta MeoPro Optika6 3-18X56-scope that I have been testing? It is the most precise and clear scope I own. I actually tried to do that before and discovered the Sportsmatch 30mm high adjustable scope mounts that scope is mounted in do not allow the scope to clear the 21-shot magazine. But they will clear the smaller 13-shot mag, I am sure. I need that mount for this rifle because this Dreamlite is a super-drooper.

FX Dreamlite big mag
The 21-shot magazine sticks up high and requires special consideration when mounting a scope.

FX Dreamlite small mag
The 13-shot magazine is lower and allows more options for scope mounting.

FX Dreamlite two mags
The small and large magazine.

Small magazine flops around

I found when installing the smaller mag that it is so much smaller that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the receiver. It keys on the breech, allowing it to rotate to the right and flop down even lower. This is a clever design that accommodates the dimensions for the larger mag while retaining precision with the smaller one — I hope!

FX Dreamlite small mag clearance
The small mag sits up above the receiver, keying on the breech rather than the receiver.

Quick review

Before I continue, let me tell you why I’m spending this amount of time testing the FX Dreamlite. I am doing it because this rifle has a number of good things going for it. The trigger is a real pleasure to use and the silencer is also very good, though the rifle’s power level is low enough that it isn’t really challenged.

The Dreamlite has an externally adjustable regulator that the user can easily adjust. A second pressure gauge tells where the operating pressure of the regulator is set, so you can adjust the pressure to support how you have the power adjusted. That gives you razor-fine control of the power output at all levels between the two extremes. This is not something to keep tweaking. Find where it wants to be, then leave it there!

The Dreamlite is light! Before it’s scoped it weighs less than 6 pounds. That makes it comfortable to carry.

And finally, in the last report (Part 5) I found that 10.5-grain Crosman Premier Heavy pellets are well-suited to the Smooth Twist II barrel that’s on the rifle. That gives me two good pellets (8.44-grain JSB Exacts are also accurate) for the rifle.

I got a lot of good shots (62) from a full fill of the rifle (250 bar) when the reg is set at 90 bar and the power level is set at maximum. I find that to be very much in the Dreamlite’s favor!

The bad

Other than the Smooth Twist barrel being fussy about the pellets it likes (not really bad, just peculiar and something to watch), the only bad thing so far has been the 10th chamber in the 21-shot magazine. I tested that and proved that it hindered accuracy. When I compensated for it, the groups shrank. Well, today I replace that mag with the smaller one that I’m hoping will be just as good and also allow me to mount the Meopta scope.

Sight in

I mounted the scope quite easily, with much clearance underneath. Then I went to 12 feet to sight it in with the 8.44-grain JSB domes. One shot told me I would be on paper at 25 yards. So I went back to the bench and set up to shoot.

The test

I’m shooting from 25 yards off a sandbag rest. Each group will have 10 shots. If I adjust the scope I’ll tell you. It did turn the illumination on to see the central dot in the reticle more clearly.

Group 1

I finished the sight-in with two more shots at 25 yards and, since the magazine holds 13 pellets, I shot the first group. The first 10 JSB Exact pellets went into a group that measures 0.503-inches between centers.

FX Dreamlite JSB group 1
Ten 8.44-grain JSB Exact domes went into 0.503-inches at 10 meters.

As you can see, I shot my aim point away on the 7th shot. After that I had to guess where the center of the bull was. But the highest shot came on number five, and I don’t have an alibi for that. [I really did, but I didn’t know it at this point in the test.]

Meopta reticle

During this group I notice that the tiny central dot on the illuminated Meopta scope was blinking slowly. That helped me see where it was against the black bull.

Adjusted the scope

I dialed the scope 5 clicks higher in hopes of missing the 10-dot on the next group. I did, but not the way I expected.

Group 2

The first shot from the second group hit the paper an inch to the right of the aim point. I was surprised and I still don’t know what happened. Apparently the erector tube wanted to go there because the rest of the pellets went to the same place — sort of. The fifth shot hit the paper way higher than the rest and gave me what I’m showing you here — a 1.102-inch group with 8 shots in 0.22-inches. That’s the heart-shaped group in the middle with one shot lower and that other shot way higher. I think I know what happened this time. [I really didn’t know. I found out much later.]

FX Dreamlite JSB group 2
Ten JSB Exacts in 1.102-inches with eight in 0.22-inches. What happened? Two things — one I will explain and the other one had not yet occurred to me.

Remember the blinking central dot in the scope? Well I now noticed that it was perhaps a quarter mil below the dark dot at the center of the reticle. And I was alternating between aiming with the dark central dot and the blinking red dot. I have no way of measuring how far apart the two dots really are. When I say they are a quarter mil apart I’m just guessing. It’s my way of saying they are very close but not quite together.

I tried one more target with the reticle illuminated and swore to use only the blinking red dot.

Group 3

I adjusted the scope 6 clicks to the left and three clicks up and then shot another group. This 10-shot group measures 0.457-inches between centers and it was the very first shot that went farthest to the left. That blinking dot was still confusing me, so I turned it off in the middle of shooting this group.

FX Dreamlite JSB group 3
Ten JSB Exact pellets went into 0.457-inches at 25 yards. I was still playing with the blinking dot.

Superdomes

I tried shooting a group of RWS Superdomes, but they were horrible. So I switched over to the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier Heavy. I was now using the black dot in the center of the reticle as the aim point and I could see that easily against the white 10-dot on the target.

Group 4

Now it was time to try the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier Heavy that did so well in Part 5 last time. The first group of ten made a group that measures 0.402-inches between centers at 25 yards. That’s not bad. In fact it’s the best group so far.

FX Dreamlite Premier group 1
The first group of 10 Crosman Premier Heavys was smaller than all the groups before.

Group 5

By this time I had fired 53 shots and the reservoir was getting low so I refilled the gun to 250 bar. My next group of Crosman Premier Heavys measures 0.424-inches between centers, so it’s not that different than the previous one.

FX Dreamlite Premier group 2
The second group of 10 Crosman Premier Heavys measures 0.424-inches between centers.

Group 6

The last group of 10 Premier Heavys measured 0.377-inches between centers, but look at the group of 8 shots on the lower left. Those 8 measure 0.208-inches between centers. I got so excited at seeing those 8 shots group together (the other two are shots number 7 and 10) that I fired the rifle very quickly. And that came back to haunt me.

FX Dreamlite Premier group 3
That final group was the best of the test. Ten Premier Heavys are in 0.377-inches at 25 yards, with 8 in 0.208-inches.

Oh, NO!

As I was writing this report and evaluating all of today’s data, I was also reading over the past 5 reports with all the testing I had done. That’s when I discovered something crucial. I had forgotten that this Dreamlite regulator fills very slowly. I didn’t take that into account in today’s testing! Please notice that ALL of my group enlargements are vertical! That often means large velocity differences! I had not waited long enough between shots for the regulator to fill and I cannot discount that for some or all of the vertical stringing we see. I do think the reg is starting to fill faster than it did before, but I should still wait at least 25 seconds between shots for the best results. I did not always do that today.

What’s next?

I am not going to re-run this test. I’m pretty sure I know how this Dreamlite wants to be treated now, and I’ve already spent a lot of time getting to this point. However, for next time there are some things I need to remember.

1. Fill to 250 bar.
2. Wait at least 25 seconds between shots.
3. Premier Heavys are best. JSB 8.44-grain Exacts are also good.
4. Do not use the illumination in the scope.

Next time I want to do one final thing that some readers have asked me to do. The Dreamlite has a short Mil Std 1913 Picatinney rail just forward of the triggerguard and some readers have asked me to shoot a pellet gun with a bipod. Leapers has sent me one of their new TBNR bipods to test. And now that we have a good baseline on this Dreamlite, I think it is the ideal testbed for that bipod, which at $160 is not cheap.

Summary

At the present time the best 10-shot group I have gotten with the Dreamlite has been 0.284-inches at 25 yards. Now, THAT is a group (see it in Part 4)! The groups that measure 0.35 and 0.4 are about the same as my TX200 Mark III can do with 10 pellets at the same 25-yards distance, which is what put me off this rifle. You guys know me. If this was a world-beater I would be out in front with my pom-poms! (There is an image you need to scrub from your mind!) If it can really do that (0.284-inches for 10 shots at 25 yards) consistently, I will be impressed. We shall see!


FX Dreamlite precharged air rifle : Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

FX Dreamlite
FX Dreamlite precharged pneumatic rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 1 UTG 4-16 OP3 Compact scope

This report covers:

  • Mounting the scope
  • Sunscreen
  • Clear, clear, clear!
  • First target
  • Target two
  • JSB Beasts
  • Crosman Premier Lights give strange group(s)!
  • Crosman Premier Heavy
  • Second attempt
  • Summary for the UTG scope
  • Summary for the FX Dreamlight

Today is really two reports in one. I’m covering the new UTG 4-16 AO Compact scope and this is also the fifth report on the FX-Dreamlite precharged pneumatic air rifle. I’m glad I got back to it because I found a second good pellet for the rifle today. But first the scope.

Mounting the scope

Because the FX Dreamlite is such a drooper I tried to use the Sportsmatch 30mm high adjustable scope mounts. The would have been ideal, but they don’t work because of the FX 21-shot magazine that sticks up so high above the top of the receiver. I ended up using the True Strength mounts that came with the UTG scope and I shimmed under the scope on the rear ring. The scope barely fit so the magazine can be installed. And yes, I am aware there is a Mini FX 10-shot rotary magazine available. I just don’t have one. But that’s what this rifle needs.

FX Dreamlite UTG OP3 scope
The new UTG OP3 scope mounted on the Dreamlite looks like it was made for the rifle.

FX Dreamlite UTG OP3 clearance
The 21-shot magazine just clears the scope. A 10-shot Mini Mag would be better.

Sunscreen

This UTG scope comes with a separate sunscreen that screws into the objective end of the scope. It’s three inches long, so it provides good protection from the sun. If you have never experienced it, when the sunlight falls on the objective lens it flares up as a bright spot that ruins your aim. You loose the reticle and sometimes even the target when this happens. But this new scope has you covered.

Clear, clear, clear!

Sight-in started at 12 feet and then moved to 10 meters. When I got back to the shooting distance of 25 yards I got the scope fully adjusted and the image was crystal clear. I could not see the thin black crosshair over the bull, so I turned on the illumination — exactly as I did with the Meopta Optika6! Then it was clear as a bell and I could also see the 10-dot of the bull. This scope is as clear and sharp as I told you yesterday. Now I’m going to switch to the report on the rifle, but I have more to say about the scope as we go.

First target

I sighted-in with 8.44-grain JSB Exacts that so far were the most accurate pellets for this rifle. So, the first target was a group of 10 of them. The group measures 0.454-inches between centers. It’s higher than the center of the bull to preserve my aim point. It’s also a little left of center.

FX Dreamlite UTG OP3 JSB 844 group 1
The first 25-yard group of JSB Exact 8.44-grain pellets measures 0.454-inches between centers.

Target two

I adjusted the scope several clicks to the right and several clicks down and shot the second group with the same pellet. This time 10 JSB 8.44-grain pellets went into 0.388-inches at 25 yards. This group is also rounder than the last. I think I was getting into the groove. The FX trigger is light and crisp, but I shoot so many airguns that I forget how each one likes to be held and shot, and it takes some time to remember them. The Dreamlite holds steady and the trigger is superb!

FX Dreamlite UTG OP3 JSB 844 group 2
This 25-yard group of JSB 8.44-grain domes measures 0.388-inches between centers.

I would also like to point out that this UTG scope is displaying absolutely no stiction. When the adjustments are made the pellets go to the new location on the first shot. That is something I seldom see in a scope test. It usually takes one or two shots to jiggle the erector tube to the new setting.

JSB Beasts

I tried the JSB Beast pellet again. This time they were all over the place and only 4 of 5 hit the target paper. They measure 2.215-inches between centers, but without shot 5 they aren’t a real group. I quit this pellet after 5 shots.

FX Dreamlite UTG OP3 JSB Beast group
JSB Beasts are not for the FX Dreamlite.

Crosman Premier Lights give strange group(s)!

Next I tried some 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lights. Would their harder lead be better in the Smooth Twist II barrel? I only loaded 5 pellets after seeing what the JSB Beasts had done.
The first 5 Premiers went into 0.371-inches. Huzzah! Had I finally found the second good pellet for the Dreamlite? I do note that these pellets shifted off to the left on their own. The scope adjustments were not touched.

I then loaded a second five Premier Lights to complete the 10-shot group. The first shot hit the target paper an inch to the left of the last group. Huh? I had not changed a thing — and for those wondering about the barrel stability, I had not bumped the barrel when I reloaded.

These 5 Premier Lights went into an IDENTICAL 0.371-inch group whose center is about nine-tenths of an inch to the left of the first 5 shots. This is the strangest group I have ever seen and I wouldn’t believe it if I had not been there to see it! Obviously something is up, but I don’t have much to go on yet. I checked the air pressure in the reservoir and it was sitting around 180 bar at this point. That should be good. The 10 shots measure 1.158-inches between centers.

FX Dreamlite UTG OP3 Premier Light group
Twin 0.371-inch groups of Crosman Premier Lights are 0.9-inches apart at 25 yards. The entire groups measures 1.158-inches between centers. I have no idea what happened, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the pellet.

Crosman Premier Heavy

 
The last pellet I tested was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier Heavy. Because of the previous strange double group I refilled the FX to 250 bar. I know from all the testing that’s been done that the regulator is working well in this rifle and I can trust it when it’s full.
I loaded 5 pellets and shot at the bull on the left of the paper. The first pellet barely nicked the left edge of the target paper. I shot the other 4 and got what appeared to be a tight little group that was right on the edge of the paper, but the pellet shift was noteworthy — very similar to that of the Premier Light.

Second attempt

I cranked a lot of right adjustment into the scope and shot a second group. This time 10 pellets were loaded into the mag. And, shot after shot, they kept going to the same place! After the fifth pellet I couldn’t see the hole grow any larger. Ten Premier Heavys went into 0.353-inches at 25 yards. Folks, we have a winner! This is the second pellet that the Smooth Twist barrel likes.

FX Dreamlite UTG OP3 Premier Heavy group
Ten Crosman Premier Heavy pellets went intro 0.353-inches at 25 yards. Yeah — that’s a group!

Summary for the UTG scope

The UTG Scope is everything I thought it would be. It’s clear, the reticle is very useful, the illumination works great (yes, I turned it off after shooting!), the mounts work great and the scope has zero stiction. The only concern is that this is a compact scope, so there are fewer placement options when mounting. Should you get one? Only if you are looking for a superlative small scope that won’t break the bank!

Summary for the FX Dreamlight

I am so glad I did today’s test. The Dreamlite is still sensitive to what pellets are used, but it now likes at least two.

The issue of the double group of Premier Lights needs to be investigated. I won’t tell you what I suspect so you can discuss it without any bias. But I do plan to test the rifle again to see if I am right.

If I hadn’t done this test I would have written the Dreamlite off, and that would have been unfortunate because there is a lot of innovation here. This rifle needs to be played with to sort things out as our friends in the UK would say. But there is a worthy air rifle here. It reminds me of my TalonSS with so many features and adjustments that it takes real dedication to get to know it. But the journey is worth the effort.


Crosman 13XX rifle, a modified 1377 pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

modified Crosman 1377 pistol
A 1377 pistol, converted to a .22 caliber rifle.

Part 1

Today’s report is Part 2 of the conversion report on a Crosman 13XX pistol into rifle by reader Benji-Don.

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

And now, over to you, Benji-Don.

Crosman 13XX rifle, a modified 1377 pistol: Part 2

This report covers:

  • Pumps vs Velocity
  • Barrel weights
  • Accuracy
  • Costs
  • Conclusions

Pumps vs Velocity

In this report all of my velocity numbers are with Crosman Domed 14.3 gr pellets. I have three sets of pumps vs velocity data to show the progression in the efficiency of the gun from the stock valve. In all three sets the stock 0.142-inch transfer bushing has been drilled out.

Set 1 – The rifle has the stock plastic barrel band, stock piston, stock valve, stock valve spring, and stock hammer spring. The transfer bushing had been drilled out to 0.156-inches (5/32) ID. For this set I dry-fired the gun until there was no air left between shots. I also did not record shots with obvious valve lock that effected the velocity. Sometimes that would be throwing out quite a few shots.

Set 2 – The rifle has the stock plastic barrel band, MV valve and piston, the ultralight valve spring, 3/8 inch preload on the stock hammer spring and 0.172-inches (11/64) transfer bushing.

Set 3 – Is similar to Set 2 except it has the custom metal barrel band, and the light valve spring.

Note: The 0.172 inch ID leaves a very thin wall going to the valve gasket side of the transfer bushing that has an OD of 0.177-inches. I would stick with the 0.156 inch bushing and barrel opening there is not a significant increase in velocity going to 0.172 inches.

Here is a graph showing the results:

modified Crosman 1377 pumps vs velocityS
Pumps vs velocity. The lines are smoothed. The data points are raw data.

Barrel weights

To see if there were barrel harmonics (vibration and/or wiggle) affecting accuracy I tried different weights on the end of the barrel. I pressed a Silencer Adapter 1.0 oz from the Maximus Hunter on the muzzle. It has the U.S. standard 1/2 inch fine bolt threads (20 threads per inch).

I have three different end weights that screw onto the barrel silencer adapter.

Weight 1 – A plastic dust cover 0.1 oz, a total 1.1 oz (Crosman part).

Weight 2 – A copper pipe flare fitting 0.6 oz, a total 1.6 oz (copper flare pipe fitting and adapter).

Weight 3 – A brass coupling 1.5 oz, a total 2.5 oz (copper coupling iron pipe size 1/4 inch tapered threads and adapter).

modified Crosman 1377 barrel weightsS
Silencer adapter and three barrel weights.

Prior to the metal barrel band/pivot pin bracket, the floated barrel was a little more accurate with the flare fitting. Once the metal barrel band was installed I didn’t find any difference between the different weights and accuracy so I went with the plastic dust cover. The flare fitting did kind of go with the gun’s looks though.

To really tune the barrel the copper coupling could be used — cutting it to different lengths to find the best weight and then adjust its location by how far it is screwed on the barrel adapter. I really don’t have the patience for that. I also have not had any issues with harmonics with the Maximus barrels.

Accuracy

My original 1322 gave me few issues and was accurate right off with Air Arms Falcon 13.43-grain pellets. I worked on my 13XX gun for over 7 months off and on and it took most of that time just to get it close to the accuracy of my earlier 1322 rifle. For much of that time the wind would be perfectly calm until I get set up and then the wind gusts would start. Trying to wait for the wind to calm for each shot can be very tiring and frustrating.

My 13XX groups are about 0.38 inches for 10 shots with JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy 18.13-grain pellets at 25 yards on 11 pumps.

modified Crosman 1377 13XX 25 yards
A 0.38 inch 10 shot group at 25 yards.

My 13XX groups 10 shots in about 0.58 inches with 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellets at 42 yards on 13 pumps.

modified Crosman 1377 13XX 42 yards
A 0.58 inch 10 shot group at 42 yards.

Based on the 42 yard shots I think the JSB 15.89 gr pellets would do better at 25 yards than the heavier pellets. I also shot a 0.46 inch 10 shot group with JSB 15.89-grain pellets at 35 yards on 11 pumps so it seems to be holding its group size as the distance increases well.

My original Crosman 1322 groups were about 0.35 inches on 10 shots with Falcon pellets at 25 yards with 11 pumps. It opened up to about 1.16 inches on 10 shots with Falcons at 42 yards on 12 pumps.

Costs

I knew when I started this project that it was going to cost more than the other Crosman 1377 and 1322 guns I have modified. I had $200 in my previous rifle without the scope. I wanted this one to be the best I could do. I even considered putting a high dollar target barrel on it but felt that would require someone else to do the machine work and I wanted to do this with the tools I have, or at least the tools I can make.

Here are the parts and costs of my new 13XX rifle:

1377 pistol…………………..……………$60 PA (PY-198-561).
Maximus Barrel………………..….……..$29 PA 6-GBMP22-001
Steel Breech…………………..……….…$38 PA (PY-A-4387)
Trigger Parts…………………………….$57 Crosman
Stock………………………………………..Priceless
Maximus Hunter Silencer Adapter..…  $14 Crosman 6-2250XL-001
Silencer Dust Cover……………………..$2 Crosman GBMP-033
Metal Barrel Band Pump Pivot………..$34 GMAC 002-3050
Flat Top Piston, MV valve ……………$130 *
Brass Safety…………………………….$11 GMAC 001- 0360
Misc Bolts, Screws Springs……………$10
Approximate Shipping…………………$30 much of the shipping was free

Total………………………………….…..$415

* Peter Nollan – Crosman 1322,1377, 2289 Aluminum Flat Topped Piston, Part # (223375277773) MV Valve Combo. From eBay

If you are on a budget, adding the Crosman stock, steel breech and Maximus barrel will get you very close to the same results for about $80 plus the cost of the pistol.

Conclusions

Was all this money and work worth it? For me, yes, as this is my hobby and I like tinkering with airguns as much as shooting them. This gun gave me some challenges but with persistence I was able to develop it into a nice bench rest gun and I have a gun that is all metal and wood. I would guess that the Maximus would do about the same for less than $200 but requires an air source.

I would like to test it at further distances but only have 42 yards available in my back yard.


Sheridan Blue Streak: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sheridan Blue Streak
My Sheridan Blue Streak dates back to 1978 when I bought it new.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • H&N Baracuda
  • Crosman Premiers
  • H&N Field Target Trophy
  • H&N Baracuda
  • Discussion
  • Adjusting windage on a Sheridan Blue Streak
  • 10-shot group
  • Sights moved the wrong way
  • Final group
  • Summary

Today I move back to 25 yards, to test the accuracy of the Sheridan Blue Streak for the last time. I used the information that was gathered from the accuracy test in Part 3 to select the pellets for today’s test.

The test

I shot from 25 yards while seated with the rifle rested on a sandbag. I shot 5 shots at each target but one and I will explain about that one when we get to it. I pumped the rifle 4 times per shot for every shot in today’s test. I will comment on the sights as the report progresses, but when I started the sights were where they were for the 10-meter test in Part 3.

H&N Baracuda

I told you in part 3 that the .20 caliber H&N Baracuda is a lighter medium-weight pellet, unlike all other caliber Baracudas. I shot it first because of that. I was back at 25 yards and I wanted to still be on target and roughly in the center of the bull. And I was!

Five Baracudas hit the bull at the right height, but slightly to the left of center. There were still two other pellets to shoot, so I left the sights where they were. The 5 pellets landed in a group that measures 0.71-inches between centers. Three of the pellets are in the same hole, with the other two some distance away.

Blue Streak Baracuda group
The Blue Streak put five .20 caliber Baracuda pellets in 0.71-inches at 25 yards. It’s a very good group for a multi-pump pneumatic with open sights and a septuagenarian on the trigger!

Crosman Premiers

The second pellet I tried was the tried-and-true Crosman Premier dome that’s no longer made. Both this Blue Streak and my Sheridan Supergrade like this pellet. In fact my Supergrade put 5 Premiers into 0.397-inches when I tested it a year ago. So I was hopeful, but had no idea this Blue Streak was about to do even better!

The Blue Streak put 5 Premier pellets into a group that measures 0.325-inches between centers at 25 yards! Now, that is some shooting! This group is also left of the center of the bull, though the elevation is right on.

Blue Streak Premier group
Five obsolete Crosman Premier pellets went into 0.325-inches at 25 yards. This Blue Streak can shoot!

I want you to remember this group because something happened in a minute that changed the test. Just remember that old BB can shoot when things go his way.

H&N Field Target Trophy

The next pellet was the H&N Field Target Trophy that did so well at 10 meters in Part 3. I wondered what I would do after the Premiers had done so well. So I just put my head down and shot my best. I didn’t look at the target until I walked down to change it. If the group had no measurable size whatsoever, would you believe me that there were 5 shots in it? Well, there was no cause to worry.

The five pellets landed in an open group that measures 0.771-inches between centers. Of the three test pellets, this one shot the worst! It also landed to the left and slightly higher than the other two pellets. No worries there, though, because I wasn’t going to shoot it again.

Blue Streak FTT group
The Blue Streak put 5 Field Target Trophy pellets into 0.771-inches at 25 yards. It’s not a bad group — it’s just not that good.

Discussion

After these three targets had been shot I wanted to shoot a 10-shot group with the most accurate pellet. On this day that was the Crosman Premier — no doubt about it.

I also wanted to refine the sight picture to hit the center of the bullseye, so I went to the Blue Streak manual that’s still online on the Pyramyd Air website. As you may know, the Sheridan rear sight adjusts in both directions. There is a screw in the center of the leaf for the vertical adjustment. It’s pretty obvious what you need to do. But the windage adjustment is a different matter.

Adjusting windage on a Sheridan Blue Streak

The rear sight leaf has a screw on either side. Both have to be turned to adjust the sight. But what do you do? That’s why I went to the manual. And, guess what? Whoever wrote this version of the manual didn’t know, either. Here is all the manual says about adjusting the rear sight on a Blue Streak.

Blue Streak manual
Yeah — they didn’t know, either!

So I did a search and found people discussing Blue Streak rear sight adjustment on one of the forums. The guy told someone to loosen the screw on the side he wanted to move the sight toward and tighten the screw on the other side. If you want to move to sight to the right, loosen the screw on the right and tighten the screw on the left. My pellets were hitting to the left of center so I needed to move the sight to the right because you always move the rear sight in the direction you want the shots to move.

10-shot group

After adjusting the sight I started shooting the 10-shot group. By shot number 5 I noticed my hands were shaking. Was I really that stressed about this group? Then I felt it — a warning sign that my blood sugar was too low.

I inject insulin 5 times each day to control type one diabetes. I check my blood sugar level before doing this, plus I have to factor in any food I’m about to eat. After 8 years of doing this I have gotten pretty good at it, but every once in awhile I make a mistake. That’s what happened this time and my blood sugar was dropping too far. It starts with the shakes and then I feel super hungry. After that I start a cold sweat and within minutes I will black out. I don’t know what happens after that, because I have only gone that far twice, but I don’t think it’s good.

I persisted shooting, thinking I could just tough it out, which is what I always do and it never works. As the symptoms advanced the shakes got worse, so after shot seven I stopped shooting and treated my situation. Believe it or not, the fix is to eat a candy bar! What a disease!

It takes about an hour for the symptoms to go away, but I didn’t want to wait that long. After a 20-minute break I resumed shooting and shot the final three shots. This wasn’t going to be my best group.

When I saw it I was surprised it was as good as it is. Ten Premier pellets went into 0.942-inches between centers at 25 yards. It looks smaller than that to me, but that’s what the caliper says. HOWEVER…

Blue Streak Premier 10 shots
Ten Premier pellets went into 0.942-inches at 25 yards. But the group went the wrong way!

Sights moved the wrong way

So much for listening to people on the forums! The good news is I can fix it, which is why I’m writing this here. From now on this will be a reminder to everyone who wants to adjust an original Blue or Silver Streak rear sight for windage.

To move the sight to the right, loosen the left screw and tighten the screw on the right. That pulls the rear sight leaf to the right. I watched the leaf move this second time and could actually see what it was doing. I knew how much the sight had moved the first time, so I doubled it and added a little extra. What I mean by that is how loose I made the left screw, which is what allows the sight to move to the right when I tighten the right screw. It was a guesstimate, but it was pretty close.

Final group

To check that the sight was adjusted correctly I fired a final group of 5 Premiers. I was still feeling bad and the group was almost as large as the 10-shot group, at 0.862-inches between centers, but it was now centered very well.

Blue Streak Premier last 5
It’s not a tight group, but the Premiers are now hitting where I want. Five shots in 0.862-inches at 25 yards.

Summary

This series has been refreshing for me. I think a lot of you have enjoyed it, too. We took a rifle that was made as an inexpensive replacement for the Sheridan Supergrade and we showed that it is every bit as accurate and as powerful as that icon of American airguns.

I will now put the Blue Streak away with two pumps in the reservoir and the hammer uncocked.


Sheridan Blue Streak: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sheridan Blue Streak
My Sheridan Blue Streak dates back to 1978 when I bought it new.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Crosman Premier
  • Benjamin Cylindrical pellets
  • Predator Polymags
  • H&N Baracuda
  • Field Target Trophy
  • JSB Exact
  • Sheridan Cylindrical pellet
  • A different number of pump strokes
  • Discussion
  • What can cause poor accuracy?
  • Summary

We have an interesting day ahead of us! This is the first day we test the accuracy of my vintage Sheridan Blue Streak. Let’s get started!

The test

I shot from 10 meters off a sandbag rest. The rifle rested directly on the sandbag. I shot 5-shot groups for the entire test. To begin with I shot each different pellet on 4 pumps. I’ll take the most accurate pellet and do something more with it at the end of this test. And I never adjusted the sights during this entire test.

Crosman Premier

To this point the now-obsolete 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers have been the most accurate pellets in this rifle. The sights were on in 2016, so I shot from 10 meters with no sighters.

Five Crosman Premiers went into 0.382-inches at 10 meters. That’s a pretty good group! It’s very horizontal, though. I would like to see it more rounded.

Blue Streak Premier group
Five Crosman Premier pellets went into this horizontal 0.382-inch group at 10 meters.

Benjamin Cylindrical pellets

I tried 14.3-grain Benjamin Cylindrical next. They are the only .20 caliber pellet Crosman makes today. Isn’t that ironic? Crosman makes the pellets. They brand them under the Benjamin name and the only multi-pump pneumatics they fit are Sheridans!

Five Benjamin pellets went into 0.48-inches at 10 meters. Though they are okay they are clearly not as good in this rifle as the Crosman Premiers.

Blue Streak Benjamin group
The five Benjamin pellets stayed in one hole, but not as close as the Premiers.

Predator Polymags

Next up were five Predator Polymags. They went into a one-hole 0.433-inch group at 10 meters. In fact, one hole groups is a theme you’re going to see repeated a lot today.

Blue Streak Predator Polymag group
Five Predator Polymag pellets went into 0.433-inches at 10 meters.

H&N Baracuda

The next pellet I tried was the .20 caliber H&N Baracuda. Now, in .177, .22 and .25, Baracudas are heavy pellets. But in .20 caliber they are on the light side of middleweight, at 13.58 grains. Most pellet makers use the same lead preforms for .20 caliber and .22 caliber, but H&N has a different idea.

Five pellets went into 0.35-inches, which is the smallest group thus far. It edges out the Premier as the best pellet to this point.

Blue Streak Baracuda group
Now we’re shootin’! Five H&N Baracudas are in 0.35 inches at 10 meters.

Field Target Trophy

Some of you know that I haven’t had much luck with H&N Field Target Trophy pellets in the past. That changed with the Sheridan Blue Streak. Field Target Trophy pellets were so accurate that I used the silver three-cent piece as a size comparator. Five pellets went into 0.205-inches at 10 meters.

Blue Streak Field Target Trophy group
Five FTT pellets went into 0.205-inches at 10 meters. This is the second smallest group of the test.

JSB Exact

Next I tested the JSB Exact dome. Five of them made an interesting group that’s pretty good. I know the first shot went through the X because I saw it through the spotting scope.  The other 4 landed in 0.171-inches, in a group that was separate from the first shot. Those four would have brought out the gold dollar, but the first shot opens it up to 0.326-inches. It’s still a great group but there is the promise of something even better.

Blue Streak JSB group
Five JSB Exact pellets are in 0.326-inches at 10 meters, with 4 in just 0.171-inches.

Sheridan Cylindrical pellet

Now it’s time to test the pellet that was made for the entire Sheridan line — the Sheridan Cylindrical pellet. These are unusual because they have no wasp waist, being a true cylinder that rides on top of the lands. Only the short band at the rear of the pellet engages the rifling to spin the pellet for stability.

Blue Streak Sheridan Pellet
Sheridan’s pellet is unique.

But compared to the accuracy of today’s pellets, the old cylindricals are not as good. Five of them landed in 1.19 Inches with four in a tighter 0.44-inches.

Blue Streak Sheridan pellet group
Five Sheridan Cylindrical pellets made a 1.19-inch group, with 4 in 0.44-inches at 10 meters.

A different number of pump strokes

Now that I knew that the FTT was the most accurate pellet, it was time to learn what number of pump strokes was best for it. I had been shooting with 4 strokes up to this point, so I loaded another Field Target Trophy and pumped the rifle 3 times. The shot sounded the same as with 4 pumps, but I checked the target to make sure it was still okay, which it was. Then I loaded and fired 4 more pellets — each with three pumps of air behind them.

The 5-shot group looked beautiful. It is quite round. And, when I measured it, I was surprised to get a measurement between the centers of the two shots farthest apart of 0.203-inch. The previous FTT target with 4 pumps measured 0.205-inches between centers. There is no real way to know if this group or the other one is larger, because the error in measuring is greater than the difference between them. But for the record, I am calling this the smallest group of the test.

Blue Streak Field Target Trophy group 3 pumps
Field Target Trophys grouped in 0.203-inches at 10 meters when propelled by three pumps.

The next step was to pump the gun 5 times per shot and repeat the test. This time 5 FTT pellets went into 0.506-inches at 10 meters. That’s enough of a difference to know that 3 and 4 pumps are better than 5.

Blue Streak Field Target Trophy group 5 pumps
Five pumps was a turning point and accuracy started to suffer. Five FTT pellets went into 0.506-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion

My 41-year-old Blue Streak is more accurate than I knew! It’s very close to my Sheridan Supergrade, which is what I said about the Streaks in the beginning of this report. They were not made with the same expensive materials as the Supergrades, but their performance is just as good.

As far as which pellet is the most accurate, I think several qualify. The FTT is certainly the leader in this test because it turned in superior results two times. But the Crosman Premier, the H&N Baracuda and the JSB Exact also deserve to be tested again. That JSB might just surprise us at 25 yards!

What can cause poor accuracy?

Reader Michael did a search and found a Steroid Streak report I did in 2009 that talked about its power and accuracy. If you read that report you’ll see that the Silver Streak that was “Steroided” was just as accurate as the Blue Steak I am testing today. But that wasn’t the case initially.

The rifle had a burr at the air transfer port that caused it to shoot one-inch groups at 10 meters. So I returned it to Mac-1 Airguns and Tim fixed the problem. Then I had a rifle that was both accurate and powerful.

The air transfer port is the thing to suspect when accuracy is a problem with a Streak. I discovered the problem by pushing a pellet through the bore from the muzzle to the breech. It came out with a huge “bite” out of the head and skirt on one side.

Summary

I’m not finished with the Blue Streak just yet. I want to back up to 25 yards and see what it can do from there. So, you can relax, Streakers. There’s more to come!


Sheridan Blue Streak: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sheridan Blue Streak
My Sheridan Blue Streak dates back to 1978 when I bought it new.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Lots of pellets
  • Test plan
  • Crosman Premiers
  • Huh?
  • Consistency
  • Last test — Benjamin Cylindricals
  • Pump effort
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I test my Sheridan Blue Streak’s velocity. If you read the test I did in 2016 you know that I had the rifle resealed by Jeff Cloud at that time. Up to that point it still had the seals that were installed at the factory in 1977 when the rifle was made, so that’s 39 years on the first set of seals.

Before resealing the rifle, .20 caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers (a pellet that’s no longer available) made 462 f.p.s. on 8 pumps, where the manual says to stop, and it went 476 f.p.s. on 10 pumps with no air remaining in the gun after the shot.

After resealing the rifle, the same Crosman Premier pellet went 582 f.p.s. on 8 pumps and 609 f.p.s. on 9 pumps. After 9 pumps were shot there was air left over in the gun, so 8 pumps was the effective maximum after resealing. That is a gain of 120 f.p.s. or 86 f.p.s., depending on which former velocity you accept as the top.

Following Part 4 of that series, which published on October, 2016, I put two pumps of air in the rifle and never touched it again until this report started on July 15 of this year. Actually that wasJuly 13, because I usually have to test my guns before writing about them. Still, almost three years had passed and the rifle was still holding air when I got it out.

Lots of pellets

I have plenty of .20 caliber pellets for this test. They range from the older Sheridan cylindrical pellets that came from a yellow plastic box that was purchased in the 1990s to several cardboard boxes of Crosman Premiers I have saved over the years. For modern pellets I have the following.

.20 caliber H&N Baracuda
.20 caliber H&N Field Target Trophy
.20 caliber Predator Polymag
.20 caliber JSB Exact
.20 caliber Benjamin Cylindrical

That’s all the .20 caliber lead pellets Pyramyd Air stocks except for the JSB Exact Heavy. I plan to test all of those on hand for accuracy, but not for velocity. Their weights should tell us how fast they want to go, give or take a little. What I’m interested in testing is where the rifle is today, so we know where we stand going into the accuracy test.

Test plan

Today I will test the Blue Streak with Crosman Premiers in the same way I tested it in 2016, so we can compare. I will test velocity with 3 through 9 pumps and then I will test consistency with 5 pumps. Let’s get started

Crosman Premiers

This first test is with the Crosman Premier pellet that’s now obsolete.

Pumps……..Velocity
3……………..453
4……………..516
5……………..557
6……………..600
7……………..626 (no air remained)
8……………..651 (no air remained)
9……………..665 (no air remained)

Huh?

Okay — what just happened? I don’t know, but after sitting for 3 years with 2 pumps of air inside, my Blue Streak is now either 83 f.p.s. faster on 8 pumps than immediately following the reseal in 2016 (if you go with what 8 pumps did back then), or 56 f.p.s. faster (if you go with what 9 pumps did back then). Either way, it has picked up some real velocity!

Consistency

Now let’s look at how consistent the rifle is when pumped the same number of times. I will fire 5 Premiers on 5 pumps each for this test.

Shot………..Velocity
1……………..562
2……………..552
3……………..553
4……………..556
5……………..543

Across 5 shots with 5 pumps each, the Blue Streak shot Premiers within 19 f.p.s. of each other. And only shot 5 was slow. The other 4 are within 10 f.p.s. of each other.

Back in 2016 after the reseal during this same test the rifle stayed within 73 f.p.s. for this same test with the same pellet. But it seemed to be warming up as I shot that first string, so I ran the test a second time.

The second time the rifle delivered the same 19 f.p.s. velocity variation for 5 shots on 5 pumps each that we see in today’s test. The same Premier pellet was used and the average velocity for the second run was around 543 f.p.s. I attributed that to the new seals warming up as the gun was shot. But they may have just been breaking in. At any rate, the gun is faster now than it was 3 years ago. Apparently multi-pumps do need a short break-in period after a rebuild before achieving top performance.

Last test — Benjamin Cylindricals

I know the Premier pellet I’m using for the tests is obsolete and unobtainable. So, to bring this test into the modern timeframe, I also tested it with variable pumps while shooting the new Benjamin Cylindrical pellet.

Pumps……..Velocity
3……………..456
4……………..509
5……………..548
6……………..560
7……………..590 (no air remained)
8……………..621 (no air remained)
9……………..634 (no air remained)

Pump effort

Now I measured the effort needed for each of the effective pump strokes.

Pumps….Effort lbs……2016 lbs.
3………….30…………..30
4………….34…………..32
5………….36…………..35
6………….39…………..35
7………….42…………..37
8………….42…………..37

The effort to pump has gone up up a bit. That may indicate that the rifle is pumping more efficiently today than it was in 2016.

Discussion

Now we have a good baseline for the rifle and are ready to proceed to accuracy testing. I will start with the Crosman Premier pellet that proved so accurate three years ago. I may test that pellet with a different number of pumps to see if there is a best number. But with all those other pellets I will certainly see what it will do with each one. Perhaps 5-shots groups for most of them, because this is a multi-pump?

Summary

This Blue Streak continues to surprise me. I have owned it for 41 years and I’m still learning things about it. What will come next?


Smith & Wesson model 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

S&W 77A
My S&W model 77A rifle. The black paint is flaking off the aluminum receiver, but the steel and wood parts are both in good condition.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The experiment
  • Accuracy test
  • Sight-in
  • Crosman Premiers
  • RWS Superdomes
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Now what?
  • Zero the dot sight
  • Stuff happens
  • Summary

Today we test the accuracy of the Smith & Wesson 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle, but first we have an experiment to do. On Friday I told you I had added ATF sealant to the rifle’s pump cup, and during shooting it got blown through the valve to get onto every internal seal.

At the end of the Friday velocity test the rifle was shooting a lot faster than it had in the beginning. I said it could have been due to the pumping that had heated the seals, making them more flexible and efficient. Or it could have been the ATF sealant, which does the same thing. Or it could have been a combination of both.

The experiment

Here is the deal. If the ATF sealant was the cause of the velocity increase, the velocity with Crosman Premiers from a cold rifle with 13 pumps would be close to 594 f.p.s. If it was just due to the seals heating while operation the velocity would be closer to, well, I don’t have a velocity from a cold gun shooting Premiers on 13 pumps, but with 12 pumps it shot 545 f.p.s. So perhaps 555 or 560 f.p.s. from a cold gun, if heated seals were the main cause. But, if it was a combination of the ATF sealant and the heated seals, then a cold gun might give me around 575 f.p.s. or so. That’s faster than it gave before when cold, but not as fast as it gave at the end of testing last time.

All it takes is one shot on a rifle that hasn’t been pumped or shot in 20 hours to tell us whether the sealant, or heating the seals or both are what’s behind the velocity increase. And the shot registered 580 f.p.s. That is pretty convincing evidence that the ATF sealant did a lot of the work, but heating the seals through operation was also involved. This is one more proof that AFT sealant is a benefit for the seals in pneumatic and CO2 airguns.

Accuracy test

Now it was time to test the rifle for accuracy. S&W has not established a reputation for airgun barrels, apart from the 78G and 79G pistols, so I didn’t know what the expect. Obviously I hoped for the best. Company ads claimed dime-sized groups at 33 feet, and we decided they were talking about 5-shot groups. Well, I decided but nobody argued with me.

I shot the rifle from 10 meters (32.8 feet) rested directly on a long sandbag. I decided to pump the gun 6 times per shot, and you have already seen how easy the 77A is to pump. I used the open sights that come on the rifle, though they have no windage adjustment, so I hope they are on. I shot 5-shot groups, just because this is a multi-pump pneumatic and I wanted to finish shooting before the morning was over.

Sight-in

The first shot was fired from 10 meters. It was a gamble, but I find when I use factory open sights they are usually pretty close to right on at that distance.

Crosman Premiers

I fired the first shot with Crosman Premiers. Shot one hit the target paper an inch from the bull I aimed at, at 1:30. Okay, it wasn’t on target, but it was close enough to finish the group — I thought. Wow, was I in for a surprise! Five Premiers landed in 2.24-inches at 10 meters. The target is a poster-child for demonstrating when pellets aren’t suited to air rifles! No more Premiers for this gun!

Premier group
Holy cow! You don’t have to tell me twice — Premiers don’t work in the 77A! From 10 meters 5 went into 2.24-inches.

RWS Superdomes

Next up were RWS Superdomes. They went into 0.758-inches at 10 meters, which is a lot better than the Premiers. I wasn’t pleased with this group, but I was relieved.

Superdome group
From 10 meters the 77A put 5 Superdome pellets into 0.758-inches.

RWS Hobby

The next pellet I tried was the ubiquitous RWS Hobby. Five of them went into 0.465-inches at 10 meters. Now, we are talking! This is a group that will just barely hide under an American dime, so the S&W ad was proved correct.

Hobby group
Now, that’s a group! Five RWS Hobbys are in 0.465-inches at 10 meters. I guess the 77A can shoot, after all!

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I shot was the JSB Exact RS dome. I though they might be the ones, but alas, the best-laid plans… Five pellets went into 0.856-inches at 10 meters. It’s the second-largest group of the test to this point.

JSB RS group
Five JSB Exact RS pellets went into a 0.856-inch group at 10 meters.

Now what?

I wasn’t satisfied that I had found the best pellet, but of the four I tested, which one was worth testing with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight? Duhhhhhh — Hobbys?

It didn’t take much to convince me that of the four pellets I had tested, Hobbys were the best. So I mounted the dot sight on the front 11mm dovetail and I would like to say here and now — yes, the 77A does accept 11mm scope mounts!

Zero the dot sight

I had the dot sight on the gun in less than two minutes, but a quick look at the alignment told me the sight wasn’t on the paper at 10 meters. Put the dot in the center of a bull then pick your head up and see where the barrel is pointing. In this case it was low and to the left. I moved up to 12 feet and shot a pellet that hit the target paper two inches below and two inches to the left of the aim point. That’s at 12 feet. At 10 meters it wouldn’t have hit the backstop.

A quick adjustment and the sight was on target. Back to 10 meters and 4 more shots to refine the zero. Now I was ready to shoot a group. Five shots (yes, it looks like 6 shots to me, too, but I remember distinctly pulling 5 pellets from the tin) went into 0.925-inches at 10 meters. That’s worse than what the JSB Exact RS pellets did with open sights. What gives?

Hobby group dot sight
Yeah, I don’t know what happened, either. Five Hobbys (not six like it appears) went into 0.925-inches at 10 meters when the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight was used.

Stuff happens

I have no idea what happened! I just shot worse with a dot sight than I did with the open iron sights that came with the rifle. Was the dot sight on tight? Is the barrel loose? Were there gremlins in the room? Sorry guys, I don’t know — about the gremlins, that is. I do know the dot sight was tight and so was the barrel.

Hey, sometimes when riding into the sunset your horse throws you and you land in a cactus! There is a solution — don’t let it be the last time you test the rifle!

Summary

I like the S&W 77A multi-pump for several reasons. It pumps easy, has good repeatable power and feels great in the hands. I just haven’t found the best pellet yet. I found a couple of the worst ones — just not the best.

I have a thought about that. Premiers were horrible. Premiers are undersized and very hard. Hobbys were the best. Hobbys are oversized and made from soft pure lead. Maybe I need to shoot fatter pellets that are made from pure lead. H&N Field Target Trophys and Eley 5.6mm wasps both fit that description. So I’m not done yet.