What do YOU want?: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • In an air rifle
  • The marketing
  • Not my idea
  • Last visit
  • So what?
  • The $100 PCP
  • What do YOU want to see in an air rifle?
  • Over to you
  • Summary

In an air rifle

It was February 2006. I’ll never forget standing in the office of Crosman’s CEO, Ken D’Arcy after making my pitch about a single shot precharged pneumatic air rifle that only filled to 2,000 psi.  I was on fire that day, because Ed Schultz had taken my idea and in three days had prototyped two rifles — one in .177 and the other in .22. To his surprise — it worked! He had turned two Crosman 2260 CO2 rifles into prototypes of what the company would eventually call the Benjamin Discovery. [Note: Crosmnan has changed the rifle to a Sheridan 2260.] He was getting 20 shots at almost 1,000 f.p.s. in the .177 and he hadn’t even tweaked the valve yet! read more


Gamo Swarm Fusion 10X Gen II air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight in
  • Falcon group
  • Discussion
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
  • Discussion 2
  • JSB Exact RS dome
  • Discussion 3
  • Second group of JSB Exact RS
  • Third group of JSB Exact RS
  • Summary

Today I mount the 3-9X40 Gamo scope and shoot the Fusion 10X from 25 yards. It will be an interesting test.

Mounting the scope

The scope that’s bundled with the rifle comes with a one-piece mount already attached. All you have to do is loosen the three Torx screw on the scope mount base with the wrench provided and clamp the mount to the 11mm dovetail base on the rifle. The mount has a scope stop pin that fits into the rear hole in the base and locks the mount from moving under recoil. I had the scope on and ready to go in 10 minutes.

The test

I shot off a rest at 25 yards. I used pellets that showed potential in Part 3’s test with open sights, except I had run out of H&N Match Green pellets, so I substituted something else. read more


Determining muzzle velocity

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This is another guest blog from reader Dennis Baker. He sent this to me based on the comments several of you made to his last guest blog.

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

Determining muzzle velocity

By Dennis

This report covers:

  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Trajectory
  • ChairGun Pro trajectory calculation
  • Comparison of observed and calculated trajectories
  • Error assessment
  • Conclusion
  • read more


    Diana model AR-8: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Diana AR-8
    Diana AR-8 N-TEC air rifle.

    • The rifle
    • Big!
    • Inexpensive?
    • Sights
    • Scope base
    • Trigger
    • Firing behavior
    • Summary

    The full title of the rifle we are looking at today is the Diana AR-8 Professional Success. That’s right. Apparently the Germans have hired Koreans to name to their airguns. Remember Shin Sung — Good Luck for Dignified Masterworks?

    The rifle

    The rifle I’m testing is a .22, but it also comes in .177. The serial number I’m testing is 20067725. The name AR8 is derived from the Blaser R8 Professional bolt action rifle, though that firearm bears little physical resemblance to this air rifle. Perhaps they mean similar in performance within the airgun world.

    The AR-8 has a gas piston unit — the Diana N-TEC piston. That is a unitized piston assembly with an internal gas spring. I tested one before in the 340 N-TEC, and I know how nice it can be. Let’s hope the AR-8 tests just as well.

    Big!

    The AR-8 is a large air rifle. It’s 48 inches long and weighs 7.2 lbs. You know you are holding something when you heft this air rifle. The stock is black synthetic, shaped with the rounded forend Diana is putting on many of their rifles these days. There’s the hint of a schnable at the tip. Fine stipple-like texturing on the forend and pistol grip is too smooth to give any grip, and the stock feels slippery in my hands.

    I find the cross-section of the forend too wide for comfort. The pistol grip is very vertical and thin, so it feels good to me with my medium-sized hands. The butt has a thumbhole cutout that’s ambidextrous, and I like it. I’m not a fan of thumbhole stocks, but for a airgun this inexpensive, I think it compliments the rifle.

    Inexpensive?

    Why does B.B. think $350 is inexpensive? Because this is a Diana! You get their accuracy, an adjustable trigger (no, I don’t think it’s T06, or if it is, everyone is sworn to keep it a secret), and reputation for build quality. Plus it has a gas piston/spring. Just because it’s a Diana you know I.m going to test for barrel droop! But, yes, at $350, this could be a terrific bargain.

    Sights

    The sights are unlike any I’ve seen! I wish I had designed them.

    The front sight adjusts for elevation. A thumbwheel raises and lowers the sight element, and the pellet moves in the opposite direction.

    Diana AR-8 front sight
    The front sight adjusts for elevation, via a thumbwheel!

    The rear sight is unique. A broad white stripe points to a shallow squared notch where the front sight should be centered. But that white stripe causes me to want to center the green front fiberoptic dot above it, in a “snowman” configuration. My Taurus 1911 pistol has something similar and once I got used to it, I liked it a lot! The jury is out on this one, but at least the engineers at Diana are trying.

    The rear sight has a locking screw on either side of the sliding notch. Loosen them both and slide the sight in the direction you want the pellet to go. Then lock them down. I haven’t seen this arrangement on a pellet rifle in a long time!

    Diana AR-8 rear sight
    The rear sight has a small Allen locking screw on either side. Loosen both, then slide the sight in the direction you want the pellet to go.

    Scope base

    The AR-8 has a traditional Diana scope base atop the rear of the spring tube. All your recent Diana scope mounts will fit it. Will you need a drooper base? I will test for that.

    Trigger

    OMG!!! Trigger fanatics are going to love this adjustable trigger! It is extremely crisp and very light. Details in Part 2. I am betting it is breaking at under 2 lbs. out of the box.

    There are three adjustments the user can make. The first stage travel is adjustable and the factory sets it at the minimum. I don’t care for it, but those who like single-stage trigger certainly will! And I can adjust it to suit me.

    Diana AR-8 trigger
    The trigger adjustment screws are so deep inside that I couldn’t capture them. There are three — one behind the trigger and two in front. Note the straight trigger blade.

    Both the stage one and stage two pull weights are also adjustable. I have seen some Rekords that couldn’t be adjusted this nice. And the blade is very straight, which is my personal preference.

    Firing behavior

    I cheated, like I always do, and fired a couple shots. The stock slapped my face like a woman, when I got too fresh on the first date! I really hope that goes away (the stock slap — not the women).

    The rifle is detonating right now, and the firing behavior should change when that ends. I really hope it does, because this will be painful to shoot for accuracy, if not.

    Summary

    The Diana AR8 has many differences. It’s not just another breakbarrel with a new name. This is one to examine carefully. That’s what I plan to do.


    Octane combo from Umarex — trigger job: Part 5

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

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4

    Octane combo
    Umarex Octane gas spring combo.

    Today’s report is a guest blog from blog reader DMoneyTT. He promised to show us how to fine-tune the Octane trigger, and he’s provided some good photos to go along with his article.

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

    Over to you, DMoneyTT.

    Umarex Octane trigger job

    by DMoneyTT

    As the cost and availability of firearm ammunition continues to keep many shooters from getting adequate trigger time, scores of shooters are turning to airguns to keep their skills honed. Often, new airgunners will be tempted to put down their hard-earned dollars on a rifle offering the highest advertised velocity. Airgun marketing tends to focus on this aspect of performance over all else; but experienced shooters know that accuracy is paramount, and it takes more than just a good barrel and powerplant to deliver tight groups. Proper fit and trigger control are critical considerations when attempting to extract the maximum potential from any rifle.

    It’s no secret that the Chinese-manufactured airgun market has seen unparalleled growth and their products are steadily closing the gap between these affordable rifles and their more precise, yet costly, brethren manufactured in Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States (to name but a few). Many times the differences in quality of manufacturing may be ironed out by the end user. It’s not beyond the skills or tools of the average shooter to dramatically improve the performance of a budget Chinese airgun.

    For the shooter who desires all the power of a magnum springer and wants the accuracy to make good use of the velocity but doesn’t want to spend a lot, there are a few good choices. In my humble opinion, the best of these is the Umarex Octane combo. I picked one up several months ago, and it’s been a real joy to plink with and should be excellent for hunting small game, as well. The only downside to this excellent rifle is the trigger-pull. Out of the box, the pull on my rifle registered almost 10 lbs. Others have reported slightly less, so I may have started with an abnormally high pull weight to begin with. There was very little creep (which is a result of minimal sear engagement), and the break was quite crisp. So, a trigger job was necessary, and lessening the pull weight was the only task required.

    I would like to say that this does take a steady hand, and careful attention should be paid to the work done on these tiny parts. Any work you decide to do on your rifle should be done with care to maintain the original parts geometry, and it’s always a good idea to carefully test the rifle after any work has been performed. I suggest reading this article before beginning any work to decide if this is within your skill set.

    Note from B.B.: Do not work on your gun’s trigger if you do not already have experience working on airguns or are not 100% confident that you can properly disassemble and reassemble the gun and trigger. If you decide to do any part of this trigger tune, you will void the gun’s warranty.

    The necessary tools are few.

    You will need:
    • An Allen wrench that fits the forearm screws.
    • A large Phillips screwdriver
    • Some paste-type lubricant (synthetic open-gear lube worked well for me)
    • A fine wet stone (300-600 grit is preferable)

    Optional:
    • A Dremel (or any other rotary tool) with a grey rubber polishing wheel may be used on contact points other than the primary sear and secondary sear interaction point because it’s too likely to round edges.
    • A vise to hold the rifle while performing the work.
    • Small needlenose pliers or hemostats.

    So, let’s begin! Start by ensuring that the rifle is not cocked or loaded. The next task is to remove the stock from the rifle so the trigger group can be accessed. Use an Allen wrench to remove the two forearm screws that attach the action to the stock.

    Octane combo forearm screws

    Next, a large Phillips screwdriver is used to remove the screw found behind the triggerguard.

    Octane combo Phillips screw
    The action can now be removed from the stock. It’s helpful to hold the rifle directly upside down, as the trigger pins fit very loosely and will fall out if the action is tilted to either side once the stock is removed. It’s wise to do all the work over a flat and clean surface that will easily allow dropped parts to be seen and recovered. I chose to mount my action in a vise to allow easy removal of the stock and to gain access to the components of the trigger group. It’s certainly easier to work on the rifle if both hands are free.

    Here is the correct placement of the pins in the trigger housing.

    Octane combo trigger pins

    Each pin will now need to be removed, and the associated component will need to come out with it. I find that hemostats are very helpful for those with large hands like mine. To help organize the parts, it’s advised to lay them on a white sheet of paper according to their position as they’re removed. read more


    Octane combo from Umarex: Part 4

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

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3

    Octane combo
    Umarex Octane gas spring rifle combo.

    Today’s report is both interesting and a little different. I shot the .22-caliber Octane combo from Umarex at 25 yards and used the Umarex 3-9X40 scope that came in the package. I’ll talk about the scope and mounts first.

    The scope is a variable with parallax adjustment from 10 yards to infinity. It features a duplex reticle and comes with 2-piece Weaver rings that have 4 screws per cap. The top of the rifle has a Picatinny adapter clamped on the 11mm dovetails that are cut directly into the spring tube, so the scope rings mounted quickly.

    I found the scope to be clear and sharp, and the parallax adjustment to be close to the actual distance once the eyepiece was adjusted correctly. This is one of the nicest scopes I have seen bundled with a combo airgun. I don’t think you need to buy anything other than pellets — lots of pellets.

    Sight-in
    I sighted-in the gun at 12 feet with one shot, then backed up to 25 yards to refine the sight picture. Veteran readers know I’m purposely trying not to hit the center of the bull, as that erases the aim point.

    I was finished sighting-in after 4 more shots and ready to start shooting for the record. The first pellet I selected was the .22 caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premier that had done so well in the 10-meter test with open sights.

    After the first 5 shots, I thought I had a slam-dunk accurate rifle, but I guess I got a little sloppy. Shot 6 went into the same hole, but shots 7 through 10 moved over to the left of the main group. Six consecutive shots went into 0.449 inches; but after 10 shots, the group measured 1.067 inches.

    Octane combo Premier group 1
    The first 6 Crosman Premiers went into a tight 0.449 inches, but the remaining 4 shots opened the group to 1.067 inches at 25 yards.

    After this group was finished I discovered the scope base screws were both loose. That made the scope loose, as well. I tightened them and checked them frequently throughout the remainder of the test.

    The second group of Premiers opened to 1.382 inches. This one is very horizontal, but within it is a tight group of 4 shots that came early in the string. That group measures 0.188 inches between centers.

    Octane combo Premier group 2
    These 10 Premiers are not very impressive for 25 yards, at 1.382 inches between centers; but at the 9 o’clock position on the bull, 4 pellets went into a tight 0.188 inches!

    Following this group, I noticed that both forearm screws had come loose. So they were tightened — a lot! And for the rest of the test, I monitored their tightness closely.

    What’s happening?
    The Octane recoils a lot, and you have to watch all the screws. Once they’re tight, they probably won’t back out for a long time; but the first time you use the gun, they probably need to be tightened just a bit more than normal. At least, watch for them to loosen.

    This is nothing new. We have always been told to watch the screws on spring guns that recoil heavily. I just forgot it this time until it became obvious downrange.

    JSB Exact Jumbo read more


    Octane combo from Umarex: Part 3

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

    Part 1
    Part 2

    Octane combo
    Umarex Octane gas-spring rifle combo.

    Today is the start of accuracy testing for the Octane combo air rifle, and I’m going to make some changes. For starters, I’m going to give you the summary now. The Octane is a smooth-shooting, accurate air rifle. It’s everything the manufacturer wants it to be, and a couple of things they probably didn’t think about, on top of that. The rest of this report will justify and explain my summary.

    Another thing, the Octane is different from any gas spring I’ve ever tested. Gas springs always fire fast, as in instantaneously. When the sear releases, the shot is over, and you usually know it from the sharp crack of sound and the painful slap to your cheek. The Octane fires slowly in comparison. There’s a lot of forward recoil and almost no vibration, and the discharge is very quiet, as I noted in part 2. I attribute this behavior to the Reaxis gas-spring design that’s reversed from the norm, and to the SilencAir silencer on the muzzle. Both apparently work as advertised.

    The test
    I decided to just shoot 5 shots per pellet today, and to shoot the rifle with open sights at 10 meters. I wanted to get a good sense of how accurate it is before putting the walls of my house at risk. And what I discovered was that this rifle is fun to shoot! I normally don’t have much fun shooting a 20 foot-pound spring rifle, but the Octane is so civilized that it gave me a lot of confidence. By the time I’d fired the first 2 shots at the target, putting them into the same hole, by the way, I knew this day was going to be fun.

    I held the rifle with an artillery hold, but the thumbhole stock makes you grip the gun harder than you normally might. So, I would have to call it a modified artillery hold. But the rifle cooperated, and there was noting to worry about. The muzzle heaviness holds the front sight steady on target once you’re dialed in.

    The sights are fiberoptic, which destroy all attempts at precision, but by lighting the target brightly and sitting in a darker room to shoot, I could defeat the fiberoptic tubes and get a very sharp sight picture. When they don’t glow, the Octane’s sights offer a nearly ideal sight picture, and that was what made me decide to not mount the scope, yet. I wanted to have the fun of shooting with open sights since the rifle was cooperating.

    The trigger is still quite heavy and very creepy, so I envy those who own their rifles and can modify them. If I could drop the release weight to under 4 lbs. and if there was a way to eliminate all the second-stage creep, this trigger would help accuracy greatly.

    Beeman Kodiaks
    The first target was shot with 5 Beeman Kodiak pellets. This was when I first noticed how slow the Octane’s gas piston is. It feels like an airgun equivalent of a 45-70 single-shot. You feel the recoil and the rifle bounces around, but you know the pellet got out of the muzzle before all that started and that accuracy wasn’t affected in the slightest.

    As I said, the first 2 pellets cut the same hole, though each made a distinctive mark. Then I stopped watching through the spotting scope and just shot the next 3 pellets. In the end, the group is larger than I would have liked for 10 meters, at 0.581 inches, but this is with open sights. Still, it is just 5 shots instead of 10.

    Octane combo 10-metr Kodiak target
    Five Beeman Kodiaks at 10 meters with open sights measure 0.581 inches between centers. It’s a good start!

    RWS Hobby
    Next, I tried the RWS Hobby pellet. It felt good while loading because it fit the breech tight but not overly so. And, though the point of impact shifted up a bit, the Hobby was quite accurate — putting 5 pellets into 0.368 inches! I thought that was remarkable. I couldn’t wait to test some more pellets!

    Octane combo 10-meter RWS Hobby target
    Five RWS Hobbys at 10 meters with open sights measure 0.368 inches between centers. Now, the rifle was giving me confidence.

    RWS Superdome
    Next, I tried the RWS Superdome. Here’s where you’re going to see something significant. RWS makes both Hobbys and Superdomes in Germany, and presumably they use the same lead alloy for both. And domed pellets are generally regarded to be the most accurate. Yet look at how the Superdomes did! They grouped horizontally, to exactly 1 inch, while the Hobbys stayed together.

    You might try to blame me for getting tired at this point in the test, but there’s group coming that will show that I was still shooting my best. That’s one benefit of these 5 shot groups. They don’t tire me as quickly.

    Octane combo 10-meter RWS Superdome target
    Five RWS Superdomes at 10 meters measure a long 1 inch between centers. When you compare this group to the one made by the Hobbys, you see that Superdomes are not suited for this Octane.

    Predators
    Now, for those of you who think I might have slipped up on the last group, I shot 5 Predator Polymag pellets next. They’re a recognized premium pellet, just like the Superdomes, and I’ve shown some great groups using them in recent tests. But not this time. Instead of the group stringing sideways, the Predator group were stringing vertically. Five went into 0.982 inches, so we won’t be seeing them in any future tests of the Octane.

    Octane combo 10-meter Predator target
    Five Predator Polymag pellets made this vertical 0.982-inch group.

    If you have now decided that I’ve gotten tired and ho-hum, what’s so special about the Octane if this is the best that it can do — hold on! I saved the best for last. Actually, the Octane saved the best for last because the next group is the last one I shot on this day.

    Crosman Premier
    The 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet is sometimes the best pellet you can use in an airgun. And it is in the Octane test! Five Premiers went into a group measuring 0.245 inches between centers. It looks like only 3 pellets have passed through, but I did shoot all 5. This is very clearly and hands-down the most accurate pellet I tested in the Octane.

    Octane combo 10-meter Premier target
    Five Crosman Premiers made this beautiful 0.245-inch group. It was the last group of the test. Who says the groups open up as you go? This is the pellet for this rifle. read more