Hatsan 125TH air rifle combo: Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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

Today is the day we see the accuracy of the Hatsan 125TH air rifle I’m testing. I have a surprise for you, and it isn’t what you expect. Just to review, the rifle comes with a scope that’s best not used. It’s very poor optically. And their mounts are very lightweight, so I didn’t use them today, either. Instead, I mounted my favorite scope, a Hawke 4.5-14x42AO Tactical Sidewinder that I have raved about in other reports. It’s the sharpest scope I have (don’t own it yet, but I expect to), so no one can say the Hatsan rifle didn’t get the best optics.

Hatsan has a scope base that gives you the choice of Weaver or 11mm rings, and the Hawke scope was already mounted in a set of BKL 30mm medium rings with double topstraps. With these butted against the Hatsan’s scope-stop plate, there was no way the scope or rings were going to move under recoil — even the heavy thrust of the 125TH.

Surprise, surprise!
After the scope was mounted, I cleaned the bore. And that was when I got the surprise. Even a brand-new brass cleaning brush slipped through the bore with little resistance! I thought for a moment the rifle was a .22 and of course I was using a .177 brush. But no — the rifle I’m testing is a .177. It just has a very large bore. How large? The rifle I’m now testing has the largest bore of any .177 air rifle I’ve ever examined!

I looked through the bore to make sure it’s rifled, and it is. But there are no pellets in my inventory that begin to be large enough to fit this bore — which is why I got the results that I did.

Note from Edith: I asked B.B. if this is so big that it might be .20 caliber. He took a .20-caliber pellet and tried to insert it, but it was too big. So, this is just an oversized .177.

Still a drooper
If you recall, this rifle is a drooper. I knew that, but there are ways to test droopers that don’t compromise the scope. Pick a small aim point located as many inches above the intended impact point as necessary and let that be your aim point for every group. After adjusting things as much as possible, the groups were still landing three inches below the aim point at 25 yards. But if the groups you shoot are tight, you can always replace the rings with a set of droopers afterwards.

Beeman Kodiaks
The first pellets I tried were Beeman Kodiaks — more to keep them from breaking the sound barrier in my home than for any other reason. I knew from earlier testing that middleweight pellets will go supersonic too easily in this rifle, and every shot will crack like a rimfire!

After I got the sight adjusted, I proceeded to shoot the best group of the day. In fact it was the only complete 10-shot group I fired in this test, because all other pellets scattered so much in the first three shots that it wasn’t worth my time to complete the group.

At 25 yards, 10 Kodiaks made this group that measures 1.336 inches between centers. The pellet at the low right isn’t part of the group. This is similar in size to the best groups made with open sights.

The group is terrible, but it tells me something important that I haven’t noticed until now. Notice that many of the holes are elongated rather than round? These pellets are wobbling as they fly downrange! Some look almost as though they were tumbling when they hit the target. There’s no way they can possibly be accurate when they fly like that, and that’s why I didn’t complete any other groups. Not only were the pellets scattered, many of them also tumbled or wobbled like these. Nothing I shot could ever be accurate in this airgun. When I looked back at the earlier targets from previous tests, I noticed some elongated holes there, too.

The other pellets
At first, I tried to keep the velocity below the sound barrier, so I tried JSB Exact Jumbo 10.2-grain domes and 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavies. Both wobbled in flight and scattered worst than the Kodiaks. I don’t have the new JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain domes, but there’s little reason to think they would have performed differently.

I did try a couple middleweight pellets — just to say I did. Some old Beeman Trophy pellets I had on hand cracked like a .22 long rifle, and they did make a couple round holes, but they also scattered widely and one of them did rip an elongated hole.

On to other, lighter pellets. The H&N Field Target was on the border of supersonic. Some were, others weren’t. But I got more elongated holes with this pellet, as well.

Then I tried RWS Superdomes. I thought their thin skirts might blow out and hug the bore better than the other pellets. But, once again, I got all supersonics and elongated holes. Three shots opened to two inches, and I just stopped shooting.

That is as far as I am going to take the Hatsan 125TH. I’ve shot it with open sights, with the scope and mounts that come with it, and with the best scope available. I’ve checked the screws and cleaned the bore. I’ve tried a range of the best pellets. Nothing seems to help. This rifle I’m testing is simply not going to be more accurate than these tests have already demonstrated.

The bottom line
The Hatsan 125TH is a $200 magnum spring rifle. It has their best trigger, their shock absorber system and their Weaver/11mm scope base. Yet, it also has a barrel that’s so overbore that it doesn’t stabilize any pellet I tried. The trigger is too heavy and doesn’t adjust very far. The rifle cocks hard but gets easier as it breaks in. In the end, though, the test rifle wasn’t accurate. I could forgive everything else if I’d been able to shoot a good group with this air rifle.

Hatsan 125TH air rifle combo: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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

Today will be something different for many of you. This Hatsan 125TH air rifle combo I’m testing is more than just a test of one new gun. It’s really a test of the Hatsan trigger, the SAS, the scope mounting rail and the potential accuracy of Hatsan air rifles in general. So this is an interim step toward the goal of discovering if this air rifle can shoot.

We saw the potential accuracy with open sights in the last report; but as I noted, the front sight is too big for the notch in the rear. The accuracy wasn’t as good as I believe it can be.

I mounted the scope and rings that came with the combo. The two-piece rings were attached to the scope, but they weren’t spaced correctly to engage the cross-slots in the rifle’s scope rail, so I loosened the caps and adjusted them after installing both rings on the rail. It took only a couple minutes, and Hatsan included the one Allen wrench that I needed, so it was no trouble.

I needed to position the scope as far to the rear as it would go to get the correct eye relief, so the fact that the rings had to be moved wasn’t a problem. They would have been moved in any case. Although the rings are thin two-screw cap rings, they seem to be strong enough for the lightweight scope that came in the package.

The scope was mounted back as far as it would go to get the correct eye relief. The scope rail pushes the scope further forward by design, so consider that when buying a different scope.

The scope
The scope in this package is not one you will want to use — even for a little while. The parallax is fixed at long range; and no matter how low you adjust the power, the image seems fuzzy and indefinite. And that’s the heart of today’s report, because I could’t even shoot as well with this scope as I did with the less-than-optimum open sights in Part 3.

However, I went through the trouble of sighting-in the rifle with this scope just to see things like the barrel droop. And it did droop, though not as much as I thought it was going to. At 10 feet, the pellet was hitting about seven inches below the aim point. After adjusting the reticle about 100 clicks up, I got on target. There was room left to adjust, and the erector tube did not feel as though it was floating. As I said, the aiming was so indefinite that I felt the scope wasn’t doing the rifle justice.

But I did not waste any time testing multiple pellets with this scope. I used only Beeman Kodiaks for sight-in and, after confirming the gun was sighted but the scope wasn’t helping, I decided to end the test.

Not real great, is it? This 10-shot, 25-yard group with Beeman Kodiaks tells me everything I needed to know about the rifle at this point. It measures 2.186 inches between centers.

Shooting behavior
The trigger seems to be smoothing out as the test progresses. That agrees with what some owners have said about the Quattro trigger, so we may see an improvement over the first thousand shots. Other spring guns have such improvements, which is why it’s often good to withhold judgement until a couple tins of pellets have gone through the gun.

It also felt as though the cocking effort had dropped significantly. In Part 2, I measured it at 51 lbs. But when I measured it for this report, the effort required to cock the rifle had dropped to 45 lbs. A six-pound decrease is very substantial!

Where to now?
Okay, why did I stop the test with just one 10-shot group? Simple — the rifle was not doing well because I wasn’t able to see the target. There’s no sense shooting any more pellets with this scope, so I stopped.

I also now know that this rifle does, indeed, suffer from a drooping barrel. The next scope I mount will be mounted to take care of that problem from the beginning. I’ll also mount a relatively good scope (i.e., one with bright optics and a fine reticle) to give the rifle every benefit of the doubt.

Don’t get discouraged from this test. As I said at the beginning, it’s an interim test. We’re by no means finished with this rifle, yet.  But it’s useless to waste time when you can clearly see there is a problem, which is what I learned today. With another better scope, we’ll return and complete the test. Only then will we know if the Hatsan 125TH in .177 caliber is an air rifle to choose.

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?

The Beeman R7 – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Photos and testing by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Beeman R7

Before we start, an update on the BSA laser designator ND-5. The price has been lowered significantly.

Man, did we have a LOT of interest and speculation about the R7 accuracy results. I guess you guys just like a little test now and then. I thought the clues I gave were huge, but some of you didn’t seem to grasp them, so today we’ll look more deeply into this rifle’s performance.

Well, how many of you guessed correctly what is wrong with out test Beeman R7? I thought you might see some similarity between what is happening with the R7 and what happened to me during the FWB 124 25-yard test. In fact, our new reader Steve picked up on that. The only difference between the two tests is that because the 124 has open sights, I was able to test it at 10 meters before relying on the scope sight, and so I knew for certain that the 124 should not give me vertical groups. The scope had to be the cause.

But Beeman doesn’t sell the R7 with open sights any more, so you can’t use that as a means of checking the rifle. However, when you see groups that are predominantly vertical, you know that the scope is probably to blame. And Mac did say he noticed this R7 has a very large droop when he first examined it. I missed his comment until this happened, but we carried the test a bit farther, so everybody will be able to see exactly what’s happening.

Because the rifle came sighted in from Pyramyd Air, Mac never checked to see where the scope was adjusted. He was shooting it just as it came from the box. He used RWS Superdomes, even though they’d given the largest groups in the previous test.

Several of you thought that Pyramyd Air simply shipped out a returned gun from another customer. That wasn’t the case. And they don’t do that the way those who implied that they do might think. When a gun comes back it gets tested before going out again. Pyramyd Air cannot afford to pay shipping on guns that have a problem, so it would be foolish to just turn around a gun that way.

I was hot off the 124 test, so after examining that large vertical RWS Superdome group in yesterday’s test I suggested that Mac crank in 40 clicks of down elevation and shoot another group. He did that, continuing to shoot RWS Superdomes, and the point of impact didn’t change! That’s clear proof that the scope is at fault. He cranked in another 40 clicks of down and shot a third group that was lower but also strung out vertically. We’re now down by 80 clicks.

After that, Mac dialed in a third set of 40 clicks down and this time he shot a well-rounded group. Finally! So, after 120 clicks of downward adjustment, the gun starts shooting circular groups with one called flier. Then, he dialed in a fourth set of 40 clicks of down and shot another elongated group!

What? That’s not supposed to happen. Once the groups start shooting in a round pattern, they’re not supposed to go back to vertical stringing. In fact, when the vertical adjustment is coil-bound, the group should be as tight as it will ever get, though not in the right location. However, looking at the whole picture at once — the 50 shots fired over 160 clicks of vertical adjustment — you’re struck by one obvious fact. There’s no sideways dispersion! It’s all up and down and very little side to side. In fact, in over 12 inches of up and down adjustment, there’s only about one inch of side-to-side. That says something, and the something that it says is that the scope’s the problem.

All shots were with RWS Superdomes. Looking at all 50 shots made during the vertical scope adjustments reveals this interesting image. There is very little sideways dispersion. The shots simply string up and down. Notice that the first 20 shots are intermingled despite 40 clicks of adjustment after the first 10 shots. Clearly, the erector tube was floating big time when this target was shot until the fourth group was fired.

After 120 clicks of down were applied, the group rounded into this pattern. It’s still not great, but at least it isn’t as vertical as the others.

After Mac shared these groups with me, I asked him to crank the scope all the way down until the adjustment knob quit turning. That would be where the erector spring becomes coil-bound. And even there, which was 200 more clicks down from what you see here, the group was still vertical.

I also asked him to try the JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets that were the most accurate in the previous test. He did, and they strung out vertically, just like the Superdomes. They were a larger group than in the previous test. Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets delivered similar results, except the group was even larger.

So, what we have here is a scope that’s unresponsive. No amount of shimming or droop compensation will fix what cannot be fixed. At least we now know that, so we can try a different scope and see how the rifle shoots.

We also know that this particular R7 has a lot of droop. Regardless of what other scope we try, we’ll have to compensate for it.

How much better it is to know this, than to curse the darkness and send everything back to Pyramyd Air. Anyone who plans to use a telescopic sight should know how to analyze these sorts of results. You need to learn how this works, so you can diagnose problems like these when they arise.

I am pleased to be doing this report because it’ll answer so many questions I get about scope mounting and “scope shift.” I often have to drag the facts out of the person with the question, when all they want is “the answer.” One guy wanted to sight in his scope at 10 yards. Okay, I told him, but it’s going to be way off at every other range. He got angry about that and wanted to know what was the matter with scope makers that they couldn’t simply make a scope that worked the way the customer wants it to work.

Physics is the answer to that question, and not many of the people who ask it want to hear that. They don’t want to hear that since the scope and bore are in two different planes that there must be a planned intersection of the two. Because the pellet starts falling the moment it leaves the muzzle, the trajectory must be taken into account, as well.

I’m getting off the subject, which is this R7 and what we’re going to do about it. Well, Mac is going to mount a different scope on the gun after the Roanoke airgun show, and he’ll use a mount with some built-in droop compensation. We’re also talking about stripping the gun to see what’s happening in the powerplant. One of our readers also mentioned that his new R7 is dieseling just like Mac’s test gun (you can smell the diesel but not hear it), so perhaps we’ll discover something there, as well. At any rate, we are going to get to the bottom of this together.