Quackenbush .308: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Quackenbush .308 big bore is an attractive airgun.

The last time we looked at this Quackenbush .308 big bore was when I discovered that my rifle really likes Mr. Hollowpoint’s 68-grain hollowpoint bullet. I also tested a 150-grain Loverin-design bullet that was just a bit too heavy for the gun. It didn’t want to stabilize and was tearing elongated holes in the target at 50 yards.

If you’ll recall, I was running low on air that day, so I could fill the rifle to only 3,000 psi. That gave a stunning group that was smaller than one inch at 50 yards with the 68-grain hollowpoint, but I wondered whether it would do any better if I filled the rifle to higher pressure. I also wondered if going just a trifle faster would have stabilized the 150-grain bullet. There were a lot of unanswered questions after the last test.

Today, I’ll address those questions. I had a full air tank and a reasonably good day at the range. Certainly for testing something as stable as a .308, the light breeze was no challenge.

Shooting the 68-grain hollowpoints
I decided to fill the rifle to 3,500 psi, to see what kind of velocity that might give. The 68-grain bullet averaged 1051 f.p.s, on that much air and left about 3,100 psi in the tank for the second shot. That’s a muzzle energy of 167.15 foot-pounds.

Shot two averaged 1,010 f.p.s. with the same 68-grain bullet and generated 154.07 foot-pounds of energy. You might think that’s close enough to the first velocity that the bullets will print in the same place. They might if this was a firearm — but it’s an air rifle, and we have to take the flexing of the horizontal air reservoir into account. As the pressure inside the air reservoir changes, the reservoir — which is a long tube — flexes a tiny bit. Since it’s connected to the barrel, this flexing can cause movement in the muzzle.

The first shots printed about two inches higher on the target than the second shots. I knew they would from past experience shooting other big bores, so this came as no surprise to me. I actually shot one group of first shots (after a 3,500 psi fill) at one target and a separate group of second shots at a second target.

After seeing where the shots landed relative to the aim point, it’s possible to use the mil-dot reticle in my scope to shoot both shots into the same group by using two different aim points. This is a technique I learned several years ago with my .458 Outlaw; and with it, I can put five bullets into one inch at 50 yards. I didn’t try that on this day, however, because I was too busy learning the gun.

Neither group obtained this day was as good as the group I shot last time on just 3,000 psi of air. The first group that was shot on 3,500 psi measured 2.72 inches between centers for five shots, though four of those shots landed in a group measuring 1.219 inches.

Four of the five bullets were close at 50 yards on 3,500 psi. Two landed in the same hole.

The group that was fired on 3,100 psi measured 1.953 inches between centers. That’s twice the size of the best group that was shot several weeks ago on 3,000 psi, so I think this bullet is going too fast for best results. It looks to me like this 68-grain hollowpoint wants no more than 3,000 psi as a max charge. That would put the velocity at around 970-980 f.p.s.

Lower starting pressure gave a tighter group. This one was made with 3,100 psi.

Did the 150-grain bullets stabilize?
Again, the 150-grain bullets failed to completely stabilize — even when driven to 825 f.p.s (on 3,600 psi air) and generating 226.75 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Both bullet holes show evidence of tipping. The bullet is not stabilized.

Clearly, this Loverin bullet is too long to stabilize at the velocity this rifle generates. What’s needed is a 120- to 130-grain bullet that’s short, which means it must have either a round or a flat nose.

Some observations
I’m seeing a relationship between soft pure lead bullets and better accuracy. Any hardening alloy seems to open up the group.

Ditto for lubricated bullets. So far, the best, most accurate bullets are those that are completely dry. I see now that I need to cast some more 130-grain bullets in lead that is as pure as I can make it, and shoot them absolutely dry. I’ve seen the performance of pure lead bullets on game, and they hold together far better than hard alloy bullets do. Lead hardened with antimony breaks apart in large chunks, while soft lead mashes up like a wad of bubble gum when it hits game.

I’ve always questioned using a .308 for game as large as a deer. I know hunters who are better shots than I am do it all the time and have great success, but for me the .308 is more of a coyote and bobcat round. I’ll leave the deer and wild hogs to the .458 and keep this .308 for smaller game. It probably has a useful range of 125 yards in my hands. For an air rifle, that’s pretty far!

Quackenbush .308: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Tyrone Nerdin’ Daye is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

Tyrone Nerdin’ Day says this about his winning photo: Me and my IZH-DROZD MP-661k Blackbird with Wild Mod Chip, Walther PS 22 red dot sight, quad rails and a UTG Tactical Op bipod. Black SWAT vest with the Walther CP99 Compact, police belt with Winchester Model 11.

Part 1
Part 2

Quackenbush .308 big bore is an attractive air rifle.

It’s been a long time since Part 2 because I was searching for a better bullet for this rifle. Oh, the groups shown in Part 2 aren’t that bad; but when you see what I have to show today, you’ll be glad I stuck with it.

Most of my experience has been with Quackenbush’s larger calibers. My Quackenbush .458 Long Action rifle is so accurate that I was pretty sure I could get better performance out of this .308.

The .308 is the big bore gun everyone talks about these days. Guys are taking deer and goats with them out to incredible distances. At the 2012 LASSO big bore shoot, they were hitting half-sized sheep silhouettes out to 300 yards and making it look easy. But the bullets I had didn’t seem to want to perform like what I saw from other guns. So, I kept searching and trying different bullets.

Blog reader Robert from Arcade even sent me a batch of 150-grain Loverin-style lead bullets he cast himself. They were big and heavy, and my rifle wasn’t doing that well with lighter lead bullets, so I didn’t have a lot of hope for these. But I took them along to the range yesterday, where I tried them along with a remarkable new bullet that I picked up at the Arkansas airgun show this year.

Mr. Hollowpoint saves the day!
At that show, I asked Robert Vogel, who’s Mr. Hollowpoint, for a good bullet for my rifle. He recommended a new hollowpoint he’s casting that has had some good reports. At 68 grains, it’s a featherweight compared to the 115 to 130-grain bullets I’ve been shooting, and I thought maybe the additional velocity I’d get might make the difference. So, I bought a bag to try.

I got out to the range on Wednesday, and the day was very close to perfect. At 88 deg. F, it was a bit warm, but the wind was very low and never did pick up.

The 150-grain Loverin bullet on the left and the 68-grain hollowpoint at the center and right were both tried. Notice the uneven base on the hollowpoint. It seemed to make no difference on the target. That large hollow point lives up to its name!

My carbon fiber tank would soon need a refill, so I was only able to fill the rifle to 3,000 psi, and I held the number of shots per group to 5 instead of 10. The first shot was low and about three inches to the right of the bull, so I cranked up the elevation and put in some left clicks and then shot a 10. It was nothing but luck that the one adjustment put the bullet in the right spot.

It doesn’t get much better than that, so I refilled the rifle and shot again. I was filling after each shot, so every shot had the benefit of a 3,000 psi fill behind it. With the Quackenbush Long Action Outlaw, and to a large extent with all other big bore air rifles I’ve tested, the first and second shots group in different areas — but they do group tight. The trick is to use some extra elevation for the second shot so it goes to the same place as the first. But since I didn’t know exactly how much elevation to use with this new bullet, I refilled after each shot instead.

It was a slow, methodical process of settling into the rest, sighting, squeezing off the shot, then returning to the tailgate of my truck to top off the reservoir for the next shot. My shooting buddy, who witnessed all this, was impressed by how much recoil this .308 has. Of course, it recoils with or without the bullet, because the air that’s exhausting is giving the rifle a rocket push.

By the time the fifth shot had been fired, I could see the results through the scope. The group was tight and well-centered, and the last three shots were in the x-ring, which is in the center of the 10. They can be covered by a dime. So, this 68-grain hollowpoint from Mr. Hollowpoint is the bullet my .308 likes!

Five shots went into this 0.975-inch group at 50 yards. The 68-grain bullets from Mr. Hollowpoint are a real winner in my Quackenbush .308. The center three bullet holes can just be covered by the dime.

The base of the bullet has an uneven ridge extending past the base. It’s the result of sizing the bullet, because Robert Vogel sizes each and every one to .308. Normally, I would worry about anything on the base that isn’t perfectly uniform; but after looking at the target, I can see that this has little affect on how this particular bullet flies.

This bullet loads very easily in my rifle. There seems to be no resistance when the bolt is closed. They’re cast from pure lead, which leaves them soft and prone to deformation. Performance on game is enhanced through the combination of the soft lead and the hollowpoint design. A soft lead bullet holds together better than one that’s hardened with antimony, so these bullets still penetrate deeply in game. Elmer Keith wrote extensively about the performance of soft lead bullets on game with handguns, and the velocity of these big bore rifles is pretty close to what he obtained.

I wouldn’t use such a light hollowpoint on a whitetail deer-sized animal, but it ought to turn a coyote or a bobcat inside-out! And the rifle is now zeroed at 50 yards — huzzah!

From light to heavy
Next up was the Loverin-style 150-grainer from Robert of Arcade. Since the rifle was only so-so with the lighter bullets I’d tried, I didn’t think it would stabilize this long lead slug, but it wasn’t much trouble to try. Robert also casts these from lead as pure as he can get; so, like Mr. Hollowpoint bullets, they’re just right for airguns.

A Loverin bullet has many grease grooves along a relatively long body. It was greatly in favor in the early 20th century. When jacketed bullets came along, they sent the best lead bullet designs into relative obscurity. Only those who cast their own bullets are aware of the differences in designs like the Loverin, and this style bullet is no longer popular with mold-makers today. If I want to get a Loverin mold, I either have to buy a custom mold or I have to watch the auction sites for a vintage mold to come up for sale. This one is Lyman mold 311466.

In contrast to the easy loading of the 68-grain hollowpoint, these bullets were hard to load. They were not sized and measure up to 0.311 inches in diameter. I normally shoot unsized lead bullets in my big bores whenever I can to ensure the best sealing of the bore — a little resistance at loading is normal.

The bullets landed lower on the target, as expected, and they were about a half-inch to the right; but after 5 shots, I was impressed by the group they made.

By this point, the carbon fiber tank was definitely running out of air. On the final two shots, it filled the rifle to only 2,950 psi. Since the resulting group seems elongated up and down, I will attribute some of that to the uneven fill. I think that if I shot this bullet at a higher-pressure fill, the performance might improve.

Notice, also, that the bullet holes seem elongated. There was some tipping going on, and this bullet is probably at the ragged edge of stability at this velocity — whatever that is. A higher-pressure fill will probably boost velocity enough to correct this at 50 yards.

Five shots went into this 2.008-inch group at 50 yards. The Loverin-design bullet did remarkably well, considering its 150-grain weight. The last two fills were only 2,950 psi. I wonder what a higher, more uniform fill might do?

This longer, heavier bullet would be ideal for deer. While the velocity is probably down at the 700 f.p.s. mark, these bullets still shoot all the way through deer unless they’re stopped by heavy bone. I would restrict my shots to very close range with this bullet, but I think it might do the trick out to 80 yards, or so.

What’s next?
Now that I have one good bullet for sure and the possibility of another, it’s time to test both with higher fill levels. I also want to chronograph these bullets so we can see what sort of performance they give.

I also want to cast some of my 130-grain spitzers in pure lead and shoot them unsized and unlubricated. That might be the secret to success in this rifle.

We’re not quite done with the Quackenbush .308. My thanks to both Mr. Hollowpoint and to Robert from Arcade for providing me with these two bullets to test.

Evanix Conquest PCP air rifle: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Evanix Conquest has features that set the bar very high for air rifles.

Today is velocity/power day for the Evanix Conquest PCP air rifle. In a reversal of the norm, I tested the rifle for accuracy first, and this is a follow-on to that. Of course, now we do know which pellet works the best in the test rifle, but I will also test it with a couple others to get the true power potential.

First test: JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes
The rifle was filled to 200 bar before the test began. The first pellet I tested was the one we know to be the most accurate — the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome. Since this is the pellet I would chose for this rifle every time, the results of this test will give me realistic performance parameters of the rifle as I would use it. I’ll be testing velocity, which translates to power, and also the useful shot count. Velocity comes first.

The first string of 10 shots gave an average 955 f.p.s. The high was 960 and the low was 948, for a total spread of 12 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the rifle produces 32.21 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Please notice that we already know the rifle is most accurate at this speed. This relates directly back to what we learned in the Pellet velocity versus accuracy test. Now we know that harmonics and not velocity are the most influential forces when it comes to airgun accuracy.

The average velocity of the second string of 10 shots was 948 f.p.s., with a spread from 943 to 954 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 11 f.p.s., which is one foot per second less than the first string. It’s still a good, tight velocity range; and we know from the accuracy test that the rifle is just as accurate on the second string as on the first. The full-auto group that amazed us all was fired on the second string of 10 shots. At this velocity, the rifle generated an average of 31.74 foot-pounds of energy, so not much difference between this and the first string.

The third string of 10 shots averaged 944 f.p.s., which is a small drop from the first 10. The low was 927 f.p.s., and the high was 949 f.p.s. The total spread opened up to 22 f.p.s. That’s still reasonable; but if you lump this string in with the first two, the total spread is now 33 f.p.s. That’s still a good spread for accuracy at 50 yards, yet the third string was where the groups opened up a little and also dropped on the paper a little. On this string, the average muzzle energy was 31.47 foot-pounds, which is still very respectable.

The fourth string of 10 shots averaged 924 f.p.s. and ranged from 915 f.p.s. to 932 f.p.s. This spread spans a total of 17 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 30.15 foot-pounds. Again, it’s a fairly tight string; however, if you throw it in with the first three strings, you get a total velocity spread of 45 f.p.s. That’s too much of a spread for a smallbore pellet rifle to be accurate across 40 shots at 50 yards. And it was seeing the results of the fourth string during the accuracy test that made me stop after 3 strings of 10. The point of impact dropped over an inch and the groups all opened up to twice what they were in the first 2 strings.

If you’re shooting the Conquest at 50 yards and going for the ultimate in precision, refill the rifle after 20 shots. But if you’re just shooting casually at 35 yards, you should be good all the way to 40 shots. After that, however, the velocity starts to drop rapidly.

After 43 shots, the onboard pressure gauge reads about 130 bar remaining in the gun. The gauge is too small to be more exact than that. When I refill the gun, the reservoir inlet valve opens at around 2,150 psi on the large gauge on my carbon fiber tank.

Okay, this first pellet has taught us a lot about the Conquest. We now know the power, the velocity and the shot count. But we’re not finished testing the rifle.

The Conquest has a shrouded barrel, and on the rifle range it is quieter than a .22 rimfire. But it’s not a quiet airgun. I rate the discharge noise at a solid 5 according the scale Pyramyd Air uses on their site. Nothing short of a big bore or an AirForce Condor is as loud — despite the shroud. So, this isn’t an air rifle for the suburban backyard or shooting in the house.

Second test: Eun Jin 28.4-grain domes
The second test was with the 28.4-grain Eun Jin dome. Because the Conquest is a pneumatic rifle it should give the highest power of which it is capable with the heaviest pellet. Being a magazine-fed repeater, also, we have to be careful to choose pellets that actually fit and work in the magazine, but that was already done at the range.

With a drum magazine, the fit we’re concerned with is the length of the pellet. Will it fit the chambers and not protrude on either end, which would tie up the action when the rifle tries to advance the magazine to the next pellet? The 28.4-grain Eun Jin both fits the magazine of the Conquest and works well. The accuracy was only acceptable — in the 1.25-1.5 inch range for 10 shots at 50 yards, so I wouldn’t use it in this rifle unless there was nothing better.

The rifle was again filled to 200 bar for this string. The average muzzle velocity was 697 f.p.s. for 10 shots. The low was 691, and the high was 707 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the rifle generated 30.64 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. That is lower than I expected, as PCPs generally become more powerful with heavier pellets — but that’s what it did.

Third test: Beeman Kodiaks
Next, Beeman Kodiak pellets were tested. In .22 caliber, these weigh 21.1 grains and would be ideal for a rifle of this power. But they don’t group as well as the 15.9-grain JSBs, and that has to be the most important criteria. Out to 50 yards, they’re okay. Beyond that, they can’t keep up.

Kodiaks averaged 819 f.p.s. for 10 on a fresh fill. The low was 813, and the high was 825 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they produced 31.43 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Again, the heavier pellet wasn’t as powerful as the lighter one.

Fourth test: JSB Exact Jumbo 18.1 grains
The last pellet I tested was the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo heavy pellet. They averaged 895 f.p.s. on a fresh fill, with a low of 891 and a high of 901 f.p.s. At the average velocity the rifle, produced 32.2 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with this pellet. So, it equals the 15.9-grain pellet for power, but not for accuracy, as we have seen.

The trigger of the test rifle releases at a very consistent 1 lb., 10 ozs., but the release is different than any other trigger I’ve ever felt. If you squeeze slowly, you’ll feel the solenoid fire an instant before the gun fires. It’s a small click before the boom. The actually firing is felt as a prolonged forward cycling of the bolt to push the pellet into the breech and back again to clear the magazine. The feel through the trigger while the gun fires is long and sloppy, but as you saw in the accuracy test, it works well and doesn’t affect the hold at all.

Bottom line thus far
The Conquest is stacking up to be a fine hunting air rifle. It’s powerful and amazingly accurate in the .22-caliber version I’m testing. And I’d like to mention that all the pellets tested fed through the magazine with no problem. Sometimes a rotary magazine like the one on the Conquest has problems accepting longer pellets, but even the big Eun Jins fit this one.

Without question, the one best pellet for our test rifle is the 15.9-grain JSB Exact dome. It’s not only more accurate than the others, it’s also more efficient, which was a surprise result. Test other pellets just the same, but make this one your primary choice until you find something better.

This was the fourth part of what would normally be a three-part test. I feel compelled to return to the range with a more powerful scope mounted on the gun and have another go at it. Maybe — just maybe, mind you — I’ll also take this rifle out to 100 yards. It will take a perfect day, but as I am planning to test other airguns at that range, I thought this one might be included.

Quackenbush .308: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Quackenbush .308 is handsome even in this lowest-grade version.

Today’s report will be quite different from the norm. This is Part 2, which is normally where I test velocity. I did that, and you’ll see it in today’s report — but you’ll also see some targets, because I tested accuracy, too.

When I test a smallbore pellet gun, I know at the start how the gun should perform, more or less. Yes, there are some surprises; and yes, I do make some mistakes — but a lot of what happens can be predicted pretty accurately. But not a big bore!

With a big bore airgun, I’m almost starting from scratch. Sometimes, I will have tested something similar and can use that experience as a starting point, and there’s some of that in today’s report; but this .308 rifle is unlike any other big bore air rifle I’ve ever tested. There are more .308 lead bullet designs and bullet molds available than there are .177 pellet types on the market. Out of all that, I have to select some designs that make sense.

This is where my firearms experience comes in handy, and this is the reason I often run reports on firearms in this blog: learning the intricacies of this Quackenbush rifle is exactly like figuring out how a new black powder rifle operates. And I don’t mean some ultra-modern, bolt-action black powder rifle that uses replica powders in pellet form, either. I mean a real black powder rifle made by hand and has to be figured out as you go.

So, how do you start testing a gun when you don’t know much about it? Well, you start with what you do know and go from there.

I know that other Quackenbush Long Action Outlaw guns operate at pressures above 3,000 psi, so I’ll start with a higher fill pressure. I know that this rifle will be in the 200-250 foot-pound range with bullets it can stabilize, so I’ll select them first. I know that by reading what others have written about their .308 rifles.

I also know that Quackenbush rifles have to break in. They do get faster with use. So, I’ll look for that.

Furthermore, since this is a big bore air rifle operating at a very high level of performance, it’s going to use a lot of air. I know how much air the Korean guns like the .50-caliber Dragon Claw use, and I know that this rifle is going to use even more. So, even an 88 cubic-foot carbon fiber air tank is going to get drained in a hurry.

I cast bullets for many of my firearms, and I also happen to own a bullet mold for a nice spitzer (pointed) lead bullet that was designed for the M1 Carbine. It casts at around 130 grains, which is an ideal weight for this rifle, because the expected velocity (derived from the known power that has been published by other .308 owners) will be 850-950 f.p.s. on the first shot. I calculate this velocity range by taking the expected power (say 225 foot-pounds) and running it through the Pyramyd Air velocity calculator (use the second formula on the page to do this).

The issue here is bullet stability. These bullets are stabilized primarily by the spin imparted by the rifling in the gun. The longer a bullet becomes, the faster it must spin in order to stabilize. Since you cannot change the twist rate of the barrel, you have to drive the bullet faster to stabilize it. Sometimes, though, you’ll get away with shooting targets that aren’t too far away with a longer bullet. The bullet will be semi-stable for the first 40-50 yards or so. It all depends on the bullet’s length.

The bullets I shot are like the one at the center of this photo. At the right is that same bullet with the lubricant wiped off. At the left is a 170-grain lead bullet that’s normally too heavy for this rifle. However, for close work, it might work okay. That bullet normally takes a copper gas check, but it can be shot without one.

That velocity will give a fairly flat trajectory and stability to the 130-grain bullet as far as the rifle can be accurately shot — which is about 200 yards. But consider this: this bullet is just one of over 200 different lead bullets that are appropriate for this rifle! If you really want to experiment and push the envelope, that number grows to over 500! Nothing guarantees that this will be the one right bullet. It’s just the first one I tested.

Scope troubles
Before I went to the range, I mounted a scope on the rifle. I encountered problems right away because of how far the Weaver bases are set apart on the rifle’s action. They are so far apart that I cannot mount the leapers long eye relief scope I had planned to use, because the ring separation exceeds the scope’s tube length. This is where it gets dicey because of the scopes that were available; and the Weaver rings I had that were not committed to other tests and guns. I ended up with a set of high rings and an Osprey 2.5-10×40 scope that I don’t care for. More on that, later.

So, I get to the range and the day is pretty good. The wind is fairly calm, with just a few breezes I can wait out. Besides, I’m shooting a .308 130-grain bullet at 50 yards. The wind doesn’t affect it nearly as much as it would a pellet!

First fill
The gun’s first fill is a guess. I know my .458 Outlaw likes a 3,500 psi fill, so I go with 3,600 psi for this one. I’m looking for a couple things. First, how fast does the first shot go? Second, how fast do shots two through whatever go? That’s right — I don’t even know how many powerful shots I’m going to get from this rifle. If it were a 9mm Korean gun, that number would be 5-7. But a Quackenbush .308 is more powerful and uses a lot more air. My .458 gets two good shots per fill, so there’s a very good chance this one will, too.

Before I left the house, I oiled the striker (hammer) with high-tech gun oil. I oiled it again at the range. I know that all big bore guns need to break in to shoot their best. Then, I filled the rifle to 3,600 psi and started shooting:


The first few shots were over the chronograph. Then, I commenced shooting for accuracy at 50 yards. You can see how high the scope sits above the receiver.

Okay, those are the first four shots. If I’m looking for good groups at 50 yards with this bullet, only the first two shots look good. If I’m demonstrating the rifle to a bunch of Boy Scouts, I can probably continue shooting for another couple shots. Do you see what I’m doing? I’m calculating things based on what kind of shooting I expect to do.

And shot one generates 212.06 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Shot two makes 192.26 foot-pounds.

I also noted that when I went to fill the reservoir again, the gun still had about 1,900 psi inside. Four shots used up 1,700 psi, or about 425 psi per shot. The Korean big bores use around 200 psi per shot, so that gives you a good idea of how they compare to a Quackenbush Long Action.

Next, I sighted-in the rifle. Because the Quackenbush Long Action does not allow the bolt to be removed easily at the range, I used a target paper that’s two feet by four feet. The point of aim is close to the center of the paper. That gives me a good chance of striking somewhere on the paper at 50 yards. If this were a smallbore airgun, I would have started at 10 feet, as I explain in my article about sighting in a scope; but you can’t do that with a gun this powerful unless you own a lot of private land. I’m on a club-run rifle range, and I have to obey their regulations. I’m hoping to get on paper without boresighting. I do own a boresight device, but it has only bore spuds that go up to .22 caliber, so it wouldn’t work in a .308.

I’m in luck, because the first shot hits the paper…about two feet below my aim point. Well, that isn’t as lucky as you might think. Remember the Osprey scope I mentioned earlier? Well, it has 1/8 MOA (minute of angle) adjustments. At 50 yards, every click will move the strike of the round about one-sixteenth of an inch! For two feet, I’ll have to move the elevation knob up 16 x 12 x two, which is 384 clicks! There probably aren’t that many clicks in this scope, plus I don’t know how far up it already is. I have a droop problem!

I’ll replace this scope and mounts for the next test, which means I’ll have to sight-in and do this all over again. But today is not lost. I can still continue to test the gun. I adjust the scope up so the round lands about 14 inches below the aim point, and that’s how I will test the gun today. It’s simple enough to staple two targets to the backer in line with one another, so I can aim at the top one and hit the lower one. Now, we can see how this rifle shoots with this bullet.

The only problem is — all I have are bullets that have been sized and lubricated. I know that Quackenbush big bores seem to do best with dry lead bullets, or at least that’s been my experience up until now, but I’ll use the bullets I have on hand. I will have to cast some more bullets and not lubricate them for the next test.

Shot one went about 14 inches below the point of aim, as mentioned already. Shot two dropped another several inches, but I compensated for it by using the tip of the bottom fat vertical duplex reticle line as a different aim point. So, I’m able to get a fair grouping of bullets, though it’s nothing I am satisfied with, yet. I’m able to shoot six bullets into a group measuring 1.6 inches by shooting just two shots per fill and using the two aim points. After shot two, the gun’s remaining pressure is about 2,700 psi, so the first two shots use about 900 psi — which works out to 450 psi per shot. Do you see how this stuff works?

Two bullets in the hole on the left, and you can see the rest. Three of them were first shots after a fill, and three were second shots. This group measures 1.6 inches between centers.

I then moved over to another set of targets and tried something different. I tried refilling after the first shot — so every shot would be going the same speed and I could use the same aim point. This time, four of the five shots grouped into 0.982 inches, but the fifth shot opened it to 1.767 inches. It looked like it was going to be better, but once again, no cigar.

There are three bullets in the large hole on the left. Shot four (top) opened the group to just under one inch, but the fifth shot opened the group to almost 1.75 inches.

After shooting at two different targets, I lubricated the striker again and chronographed the gun. This time, I tried to fill the reservoir higher than 3,600 psi, but my carbon fiber tank had already dropped to 3,600 psi. I had to stick with that as the highest fill pressure.


As you can see by comparing this second string to the first one, my rifle seems to be performing at the same level, more or less. That does not tell me whether 3,600 psi is the highest operating pressure or not, but it’s a good indication that the rifle either needs a lot more shots through it or it’s already broken in. I’ll have to get my carbon fiber tank refilled before I can conduct another test at a higher fill pressure.

And just for continuity, the first shot generated 217.04 foot-pounds. Shot two generated 193.67 foot-pounds.

Where to next?
If you’re as curious as I am, these results open up a lot of possibilities. For starters I want to test the gun at a higher fill pressure. I also want to shoot dry bullets, but I think I need to clean and dry the bore before I do. I can’t clean the lubricated bullets well enough to consider them dry, so I have to cast another batch.

I definitely have to mount a different scope in lower rings, and I have to be prepared to elevate the rear mount if the rifle turns out to be a drooper. All I know at this point is that I had the scope adjusted very high, which very well could have lead to the groups being as large as they were.

I have a feeling that this rifle will shoot groups smaller than one inch once I learn its secrets.

Quackenbush .308: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Rich Mulvey is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card! Congratulations!

Rich says that this is Ben, who’s 11 years old. He’s getting ready to shoot the reset paddle on his Gamo trap. He’s using the Air Venturi Bronco.

Today I’ll begin a look at a big bore precharged air rifle that most of you will never see. The Quackenbush .308 is a classic from the central Missouri airgun maker.

This air rifle may not be mainstream; but just mention it to airgun hunters, and you might as well have pulled the starter rope on a hotrod snowmobile! The noise starts immediately as people break up into discussion groups, some to explore the potential accuracy or the best bullet and others to recount the dozens of game animals that have fallen to their rifles.

I’ve personally seen 150-lb. goats dropped at 140+ yards with single shots from this rifle, though I wouldn’t recommend it for that distance or for that size animal. But it did work, and I saw it do that twice in one day. But hunting is the purview of others. I’m going to do my usual review of the rifle and let you readers decide how best to use it.

.308 caliber
Dennis Quackenbush is both a shooter and a hunter. Besides making several hundred airguns each year, this man “gets it.” He knows that if an air rifle is a .45 caliber it either has to be a .451 that can use common pistol bullets or a .458 that uses common rifle bullets. He would never think of foisting a .454-caliber rifle on his customers, because Dennis knows that the .454 pistol caliber died before World War II. As a shooter, he understands the importance of making rifles in calibers for which there are a wide variety of lead bullets, because not everyone casts their own.

He chose the .308 caliber for the obvious reason that it’s the most popular-sized .30-caliber bullet here in the U.S. There are .310 and .311 lead bullets available for the SKS, AKM and the Mosin Nagant — but they’re not that popular. You have to search to find them. But .308 is money in the bank here in the U.S. You’ll find dozens of different styles and weights to try in your rifle.

I once asked him why he didn’t go with 9mm when he brought out this rifle and he responded, “Ballistics. You know there are very few 9mm lead pistol bullets available on the market; and of those, the heaviest is about 125 grains. That gives you a short, fat bullet with low sectional density and poor long-range performance. But in .308, a 130-grain rifle bullet is reasonably long and has a much higher sectional density than the short 9mm pistol bullet. And my rifle can drive a 130-grain .308 bullet up to respectable velocity, making that caliber well-suited for hunters.”

Quackenbush .308 rifle is handsome even in this lowest-grade version.

The rifle
My .308 is made on a Long Action Outlaw receiver. I tested a .308 Exile back in 2005, but the rifle I tested was made on the old action with a shorter striker spring and striker travel. The long action allows the striker spring to be longer and the striker to travel a longer distance. Both increase the airflow through the valve, which equates to power.

My article reviewing the Exile is up on the Quackenbush website, so I’m able to compare the performance of this current long action gun to what was done in the past. That old rifle shot a 128.6-grain bullet at 860 f.p.s. on the first shot — generating 211.25 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. It did take some shooting to get the rifle up to that velocity, as the moving parts do need to wear in a bit, but I’ll also lubricate them before the velocity test starts with the new rifle, which will put me on better footing than I was in the old test.

The rifle is blued steel housed in a figured walnut stock. I selected the lowest-grade gun Dennis makes, but you can see from the photo that it’s still something to be proud of. It weighs 8 lbs. exactly without a scope, and the rifle comes without sights, so a scope is required. It comes with Weaver bases installed, so you need Weaver rings to match.

I’ve used the Leapers Bug Buster scope and other compact scopes in the past on these rifles, but the long action of this particular rifle needs a scope with a longer tube. The plan is to install a long eye-relief scope and see how it works. After my success with the Evanix Conquest at 4x, I’m suddenly interested in lower-power scopes — especially for workman rifles like this.

The rifle is just shy of 44 inches long, and has a 26-inch barrel. The pull is 13-1/2 inches. The action is different from what you may be used to, though it’s not unusual. Dennis uses a separate cocking bolt to retract the striker against the heavy spring, leaving the loading bolt for just the single function of inserting a bullet. This design was popular back in the 1980s with several vintage British precharged rifles but is seen less often today. In powerful big bores, however, it offers the advantage of providing good purchase on the cocking handle, while leaving the loading bolt normal-sized.

The black handle cocks the striker. The knobbed bolt is just for loading.

Dennis makes all his own barrels and the rifling buttons that cut them. At one time when he was experimenting with twist rates, he was hand-cutting the rifling; but now that he has the data he needs, button-rifled barrels are easier and faster to make, as well as smoother after production.

Lead bullets
I’ve made several references to using lead bullets — now let me explain why. In big bore air rifles, you want to eliminate as much friction as possible. Jacketed bullets have too much friction and will slow the velocity way down, plus they wear the soft steel of the barrel much faster. This holds true for vintage firearms, as well, which is why I would never shoot a jacketed bullet in a Trapdoor Springfield or in my old Ballard. People do shoot them in vintage guns, but they’re wearing out barrels much faster than they should.

These older guns have much softer steel in their barrels. While they’ll reasonably give 50,000-100,000 shots with lead bullets if properly cared for, shooting jacketed bullets will wear them out in as few as 5,000 rounds. I’m speaking about firearms now — the airgun barrels do not wear out at the same rate, and nobody knows how many shots they could conceivably get.

Fill pressure
Dennis builds airguns for thinking owners. You don’t just pull one of his rifles from a box and fill it to 3,000 psi. You experiment, which means you need to have access to a chronograph. I’ve found his Outlaw actions can tolerate 3,200 psi up to 3,500 psi very well and give optimum performance. Others have claimed fill pressures up to 3,850 psi in their guns. The point is that you experiment until you find the fill pressure that gives the greatest number of high-power shots with the bullet you’ve selected to use. I’m hoping to get four or possibly five good shots on one fill of this rifle.

Quackenbush rifles all fill from a standard Foster male fittings. He provides a stainless steel fitting to prevent the ball bearings of the female fitting from impressing themselves into the metal of the male fitting at high fill pressures.

The rifle is filled through a common Foster male fitting. It’s very standard around the world.

Dennis has very definite thoughts on what makes a good airgun. Though he also builds parts for aerospace companies and test fixtures for other manufacturers, he keeps his airgun technology firmly planted in the 1950s. By that I mean he’s going to use steel for the metal parts and walnut for the wood.

He buys his stock blanks in large lots, so there will always be enough for his production needs. And he shapes the stocks on a pantograph to save time and keep the shape consistent.

Quackenbush always has several hundred walnut stock blanks on hand.

We’re in this together
I have owned this rifle for about four years and have never fired it. My .458 Quackenbush always takes precedence, so this adventure will be just as new to me as it is to you. I’m inviting you to watch over my shoulder as I get to know this classic big bore.

Evanix Conquest PCP air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

The Evanix Conquest has features that set the bar very high for air rifles.

The cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, because today’s title tells you what my big news is about. And I tied reader Kevin to this report because he owns an Evanix Conquest PCP air rifle that hasn’t given him much joy. Today, I’ll show you the most astounding shooting I’ve ever done, but I’ll also address a mechanical concern and how it was corrected! This will be a report to remember, and here we go.

The Conquest is a very different air rifle. It took me two separate reports just to get through the general description because there are so many differences and unusual aspects of this airgun. The action is operated by a battery in the same way that an AEG airsoft gun operates, so I had to show you all of that. And, as I predicted, the forums are full of discussions about upgrading the battery pack — discussions among shooters who haven’t even seen the gun, yet. My advice it to see it and shoot it, first. It might just be good enough as is.

The rifle shoots both semiauto, which very few pellet rifles do, and full-auto, which only one other CO2 gun (the Auto Ordnance SMG-22 belt-feed carbine) currently does. Until this test, I had a lot to say about the wisdom of providing a full-auto mode — likening it to a shopping cart with wheels rated to 200 mph. That’s my way of saying, “Who needs it?” Today, I’ll eat those words. Stick around.

Posting backwards?
Also, I am reviewing accuracy out of the usual order. Normally, I look at velocity first and accuracy afterwards. Several readers have commented that they do it the other way, because who cares how fast certain pellets will go if they aren’t accurate?

Believe it or not, I put a lot of thought into doing a review in the order I usually do it. When I review velocity it’s not to correlate it with accuracy, but rather to show the power potential of the powerplant. I do understand the readers’ viewpoint that only accurate pellets are interesting; and like everyone, else I do tend to shoot only the most accurate pellets. But when I do the velocity test, I’m separating the power question from accuracy. I want to know what the gun is capable of doing as far as power is concerned, then in a separate test I want to discover what its accuracy can be.

Yes, I’ll recommend shooting the most accurate pellet, but if it only produces 20 foot-pounds while the most powerful pellet produces 25 foot-pounds, I want to show that the gun is fully capable of producing 25 foot pounds. Who knows if there will be a new pellet in the future that will be able to use all the power the rifle has and be accurate at the same time? So, my test will have demonstrated the peak power potential. If you look back at my discussions of accuracy and power in many past tests, I think you’ll see this has always been my thrust.

Today, we’re looking at accuracy first, because I had the opportunity to get to the rifle range on a dead-calm day. I could not let such an opportunity pass. So, today is accuracy day, and velocity day is still to come for the Conquest.

A couple corrections
During the time I was examining the rifle for this report, Edith wrote the most comprehensive airgun manual I’ve ever seen. She wrote it for both the Conquest rifle and the Speed, and we had to operate the gun extensively to check facts for her manual. Several things I initially told you have been changed as a result of this more detailed look.

1. The batteries need at least an 8-hour initial charge before the first use.

2. The magazines hold only 10 rounds instead of the 12 rounds I told you (with all double-mags holding 20). That holds true in all three calibers (.177, .22 and .25) but not for the 9mm, which is yet to come.

3. There was a problem with the magazine sticking in the action that was corrected by lubrication. Let’s look at that right now.

Magazine sticking problem
When I first examined the gun, I noticed that sometimes the magazine would not come out of the action when it was supposed to. When this rifle fires, the bolt passes through the magazine and pushes the pellet into the breech just before an air blast propels it out the barrel. If the bolt doesn’t retract all the way after the shot, you can’t remove the magazine because the bolt will still be inside.

Now I know what the plastic window on the right side of the receiver is for! Use it to access the bolt, so you can lubricate it properly. Then, it’ll retract and the gun will run perfectly — or at least mine did.

The bolt has two diameters — a large rear section and a narrow front section. Both diameters must be lubricated, because they pass through different passages in the receiver.

Use an oiling needle to get oil onto both diameters of the bolt. The larger black steel portion on the left looks oily in this picture, while the smaller silver portion on the right, to the right of the hook-like part in the middle of the window, looks dry. That’s because the surface is too smooth to see the oil. It’s there. I used bike chain oil, but Pyramyd Air used FP-10, and both products did the trick.

Once I lubricated the bolt with the oiling needle, it worked fine and there were no more sticking magazines. But if you do encounter a sticking mag, the recommended solution is to pull the trigger and hold it back for a few seconds after the rifle fires.

A great day at the range
Well, it was a great day for shooting the Conquest. The morning was foggy, where not a breath of air could be felt. I shot the entire test in the most perfect conditions imaginable. And all shooting you are about to see was done at 50 yards.

The rifle comes without sights, so I mounted a Bushnell Trophy XLT 4-12x40AO scope on low two-piece rings. I then sighted-in the rifle with Beeman Kodiak pellets.

The first four rounds got me on target, and then six more went into a group that measured 0.811 inches between the two widest centers. If I accepted 5-shot groups as standard, my job would already have been done, and the Conquest would be a very accurate air rifle. But that’s not how I roll, as you know, so I reloaded the magazine and shot a full 10-shot group.

Ten Beeman Kodiaks went into 1.241 inches at 50 yards. That’s okay, but not great. Time to try the next pellet.

Ten shots into 1.241 inches isn’t the level of accuracy I’d hoped for, even at 50 yards, so I decided to move on. However I note that the 21.1-grain Kodiaks do feed smoothly through the magazine. Length is not a problem.

The trigger and what it feels like to shoot
Shooting these two groups (6 shots, followed by 10 shots) afforded me the opportunity to get used to the Conquest’s trigger. I remember saying that a rifle at this price has to have a perfect trigger. Well, the Conquest trigger is far from perfect. But then I thought of another semiautomatic air rifle — the FX Revolution, which I’d tested a couple years back. It also has a less-than-desirable trigger that slaps you back through the trigger blade every time the rifle fires. In comparison, the Conquest trigger is less annoying. Instead of breaking like glass, this trigger has a rocket-push feel to the release. It’s difficult to describe, but you feel the movement of the bolt through the trigger blade.

But the magic of shooting a semiauto with almost zero recoil allows every shot to go where you want, and soon you forget the trigger. Knowing the rifle will stay exactly on target — and all you have to do is pull the trigger for another shot — builds your confidence like you wouldn’t believe!

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
Next, I tried the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. In many rifles of this power, the 18.1-grain Jumbo Heavy JSB is the most accurate pellet, but not this time. In the Conquest, 10 JSB Jumbo Heavys made a group measuring 0.958 inches between centers. That’s not bad, but it’s still not the best the rifle can do.

Now this is more like it! Ten JSB Exact Jumbo pellets in 0.958 inches at 50 yards. This kind of performance is very credible, though not as good as the Conquest can shoot.

JSB Exact 15.9-grain
The next pellet I tested was the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome. JSB calls this one a Jumbo, but I find that confusing with the Jumbo Heavy, so I make an exception by referring to this one by its weight. Over time, I’ve found this pellet to be the most consistently accurate .22-caliber airgun pellet.

Now, that’s a group! Ten JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes made this 0.547-inch group at 50 yards. This is fantastic performance. It is accuracy rivaling some of the finest semiautomatic rimfire rifles — after they’ve been accurized.

The 15.9-grain JSB Exact shot many groups between 0.50 and 0.75 inches, time after time. It was so dead-reliable on this perfect day that I would have picked it over all other PCPs for a benchrest match. But there’s one dynamic you do need to watch.

Other pellets tested
I also shot the .22-caliber Crosman Premier and the heavy 28.4-grain Eun Jin dome. Both groups were about the same as the Kodiaks, and I did not pursue them beyond a single group.

Shot count
The Conquest holds a lot of air, so the tendency is to keep right on shooting for magazine after magazine. If you are shooting spinners at 35 yards you’ll get away with it, but out at 50 yards things start to look different. That’s why I test at that distance with super-accurate PCPs like the Conquest.

I noticed that the first three 10-shot groups were all very tight. The group of JSBs going into 0.547 inches, shown above, was the first group fired on a fresh fill of air and also the best group of the test, but let’s take a look at the fourth group fired on the same fill with the same pellet.

This group of JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes was the fourth group on the same fill. It measures 1.267 inches between centers. Three 10-shot groups are the limit at 50 yards when the best accuracy is required.

That fourth group is approximately the same size as the group of Beeman Kodiaks I showed you first. While it’s a good group, it’s not representative of this rifle’s true capability at 50 yards. What this means is the total shot count you’ll get on a fill with this rifle depends on what you’re shooting and how far it is. If you want the absolute best the rifle can do, refill the gun after 30 shots. But if you’re hunting squirrels at 35 yards you can go to at least 40 shots, if not more.

This 10-shot group of JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes measures 0.760 inches between centers. There were many groups like this, and I would say this is representative of what the rifle will do all the time under good conditions with this pellet.

Of course, semiautomatic is only half of the game with the Conquest. I had to fire the rifle on full-auto, even though I was scoffing at the thought. Why would anybody even do that, I wondered. Well, the first group I shot answered my question.

The big surprise!
When I looked through the scope after the burst was finished I couldn’t tell if all the pellets were in the group or not, so I checked it with my new super-sharp spotting scope. What I saw caused me to jump up and down and pretty much stop the shooting on that range.

I am fortunate that my shooting buddy, Otho Henderson, was there to witness what happened. I had told him the Conquest was a full-auto gun; but until you hear it rattle the shots off, it doesn’t sink in. Seeing me this hyper after looking through the spotting scope, he knew something was up because I don’t even crack a smile unless a group is really astounding.

We both walked down to the target to examine what was a single ragged hole at my exact point of aim. I had used a 12-inch by 12-inch paper target, stapled to a 24-inch by 48-inch cardboard backer that had no other holes in it close to this target. The other target on which I’d been shooting semiautomatic groups was 12 inches above this one, so it was clear that all 10 shots went into the same tight group.

The first full-auto group from the Conquest measures 0.568 inches between centers! Never in my wildest imagination did I think this rifle could ever do something like this on full-auto!

Now I know what many of you are thinking. This was a fluke. You’ll never do it again. I thought the same thing, so I shot a second full-auto group for you.

Ten JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes went into this group measuring 1.001 inches between centers. I would expect this to be more representative of a full-auto group at 50 yards. Even so, it’s fantastic!

I’m guessing that this second group is closer to what the Conquest will do on full-auto at 50 yards most of the time on a perfect day. But since 90 percent of all the air rifles in the world can’t do as well shooting their pellets one at a time, it’s still pretty amazing.

In fairness to Mac, he did predict exactly such a thing when we were still in Las Vegas. He once owned a .22 rimfire semiauto that would occasionally dump its whole magazine; and he noted that when that happened, the group was always smaller than what he could shoot pulling the trigger each time. Apparently the gun takes care of business before the shooter can screw it up. I didn’t believe him until this happened.

All the good was used up!
Following the Conquest test, I went over to the 100-yard range and proceeded to shoot my old Ballard with the new bullets and loading techniques. Nothing worked, and the best I could do was shoot 4-inch groups! Then, I tried a 30-30 that had shot a half-inch at 50 yards the time before and it, too, shot four-inch groups. So, all the accuracy for the day was used up by the Conquest.

One last thing
Perhaps I should have mentioned this earlier, but I thought it would be a nice surprise here at the end of the report. I had mounted a 4-12x Bushnell scope on the Conquest for this test, but in doing so I failed to notice exactly which Bushnell it was. When I got to the range and tried to adjust the power ring, it wouldn’t budge. I had mounted a broken scope on the rifle, so the entire test had to be shot at 4x!

I doubt that mounting a 32-power scope would improve the groups all that much, simply because these groups can’t be improved much more than they are right now. But please feel free to imagine what might have happened if the scope had been better.

We look at velocity and power potential next, but at this point in the test my mind is already made up. The Evanix Conquest is a most worthy precharged pneumatic air rifle. It has a number of interesting deviations, some of which, like the battery, will turn off some shooters. But other features, like the full-auto capability, are surprisingly more effective than you might imagine.

As I look at these results, I’m reminded of two weeks ago at Las Vegas, when I pounded a 200-yard metal silhouette with the 9mm Conquest that’s still in development. Who knew these guns could be this accurate?

It was a very good day for the Evanix Conquest!

Evanix Conquest PCP air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The Evanix Conquest has features that set the bar very high for air rifles.

Today is a second look at the general characteristics of this new Evanix Conquest PCP air rifle with thumbhole stock. I was surprised that a couple of you criticized the woodwork in Part 1, so today I’ll show you the butt of the rifle I’m actually testing. Neither FX nor Daystate has anything on this stock — it’s that good. Criticize the real faults all you want, but let’s evaluate the rifle on its merits and not on where it was made.

Since I have to show a lot of details, much of today’s report will be pictorial. The captions have as much info as the text, so be sure to read them.

Fully ambidextrous, the Evanix Conquest rifle stock is a thing of beauty. The woodwork is perfect, and the wood itself has deep, rich grain. The red switch at the upper left is the power switch for the gun.

Electric action?
Yep! Like an AEG airsoft gun, the Conquest is run by an electric motor that’s powered by a battery in the butt. Before you start asking all those voltage and amperage questions, this rifle works exactly the same as an AEG. Add amps, and the charge lasts longer. Add volts, and the motor turns faster. And also like all AEGs, there’s only so much room for the onboard battery.

According to the manufacturer, one charge is sufficient for about 500 shots, but that’s a variable that depends on many things. Cold weather decreases the number. As the battery loses its charge, it heats up, which is undesireable. And I would expect that full-auto fire would use up the battery faster than semi-auto because the motor runs longer in that mode. I’ll try to give you an estimate of how many shots I get on a charge when I know something. Thus far, I’ve shot the gun about 35 times and everything is fine.

I charged the battery pack for 8 hours before my initial use. The batteries do not come precharged.

The batteries fit into the butt, so the rubber buttpad must come off first. The batteries use single-wire connectors — red to red and black to black. From what I see, there’s just enough room in the butt for the wiring and the battery that comes with the gun, so I doubt battery upgrades will be possible, as space is a concern.

The buttplate comes off with a single slotted screw to reveal the battery compartment.

The battery pack is connected to an adapter to connect to the charger, but it connects straight to the wires when installed in the gun.

Once the battery pack is installed and the reservoir is filled, the gun is ready to fire. Turn it on with the red switch at the upper left rear of the receiver, insert a loaded magazine and you’re ready to go.

The .177 and .22 versions of the rifle have 12-shot magazines. The .25-caliber rifle has a 10-shot mag. All versions of the gun also have optional double mags available, but I mistakenly wrote in Part 1 that they come with the gun — and they don’t. They must be ordered as options. So, this .22 rifle would have a total of 24 shots when the double mag is used. However, after the first 12 shots, the mag has to be slid over to the left to index the second mag. So, it’s really 12 and 12 — not 24 without stopping.

The back of each magazine has two holes through which pellets can be seen. The hole on the left is where the pellets are loaded. There’s a coiled wire band spring that runs around the circumference of the drum to hold each pellet in its chamber until the bolt pushes it into the back of the barrel. When you drop in a pellet, the head stops on this band. Like all circular magazines and clips with this feature, you have to press in each pellet past the retaining band. Nothing works as well as a ballpoint pen. If the magazine didn’t have this band, pellets could vibrate out of their chambers and jam the action — especially with the vibration of firing full-auto.

This is the back of a single 12-shot magazine. Pellets are loaded through the hole on the left. Note the black tab that sticks down at the top of the middle hole. This is used to release the magazine spring when you want to unload the magazine, or any time you want to reverse the direction of the chambers. When the magazine is loaded, a ratchet catches it at every empty chamber, and this tab gives you control over that ratchet. When the mag drum is not under spring tension, this tab does not appear.

I’m going to show you loading in detail because it’s very important to the gun’s operation. Everything I say about loading a single magazine applies to a dual mag, as well, because it’s just two single mags stuck together.

Here a JSB Exact 18.1-grain pellet has been dropped into the loading hole. Notice that it has stopped on the wire band and isn’t in the chamber all the way.

The tip of a ballpoint pen is used to seat the pellet past the wire band and into the chamber. Once seated this way, the pellet is secure from vibrating out.

And this is what a properly seated pellet looks like. This is a large JSB pellet, so you can see there’s plenty of room for big pellets in this mag. Now, rotate the mag drum one click counterclockwise and load the next chamber.

The magazine body has a small key or shelf at the bottom edge of the front side. This fits into a mating groove in the front of the receiver notch and prevents the mag from being incorrectly inserted. The front of the mag has a spring-loaded ball bearing that indexes the mag in the receiver. It’s important that the mag is indexed properly, because the bolt moves by electrical power and could damage the mag or the gun if not aligned with the hole that runs through the magazine.

Here’s the front of the magazine. There’s just one hole where the pellet can be pushed out of the mag and into the breech by the bolt. Notice the small shelf at the bottom of the mag. This is a key that prevents the mag from being installed incorrectly.

This picture shows the receiver slot that accepts the magazine key. You can also see the hole in the front of the receiver above the barrel that indexes with the magazine ball bearing.

Because this gun fires electrically, DO NOT stick your fingers into the receiver magazine notch at any time. Every time the gun fires, the bolt first comes forward to push the pellet out of the magazine and into the breech. If your finger is there, the bolt will go through it like a nail from a nail gun! Never put your fingers into this opening, no matter where the safety and power switch are set. For this reason, do not let children or anyone who’s unfamiliar with the rifle handle it.

The mag is installed. Push it in from the right side of the receiver until you hear the ball bearing click into the hole in the forward part of the receiver notch.

The double mag is two single mags joined together. In operation, you exhaust one side first, then slide the mag over to the other side — pushing from right to left. In .22 caliber, this mag gives a total of 24 shots.

Fill procedure
I mentioned the fill coupling in Part 1. Today, I’d like to show you the available space where the gun is filled, which is why it has to be a proprietary quick-fill device and not a standard Foster fitting. Besides the fill connector, the pressure gauge is also in this space, which is tucked out of sight in a slot under the forearm.

This macro picture shows the fill port that accepts the quick-disconnect adapter. The manometer reads in bar for the first time! Although this looks like a lot of room, my thumb is just as wide as this slot.

Well, that was a long introduction, but a gun this novel warrants it. I probably have still not told you everything you wish to know about the gun, but we have both the velocity and accuracy tests yet to come, so there’s more than enough time. Ask your questions, and I’ll attempt to answer them as we go.