Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP Air Rifle: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Marauder Semiauto
Benjamin’s new Semiauto Marauder repeating PCP.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Important announcement
  • Back with the Benjamin SAM
  • Pulled the baffles
  • Loading single shot
  • The test
  • Crosman Premiers
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • Air Arms 16-grain domes
  • Discussion
  • UTG scope was a huge benefit!
  • Summary

Important announcement

Pyramyd Air will be redoing the website and the blog design next week. The anticipated cutover date is Wednesday evening, 1/27/21. Therefore my last blog posting before the new site goes live next Thursday will be this Friday, 1/22/21. There is a possibility that the blog will also be dark on Thursday, 1/28/21.

Nobody likes missing the blog for several days, but I will use the time to get several things done that take a lot of time. Please bear with us as we make this transition. I will remind you of this tomorrow and Friday, too. Now on to today’s report.

Back with the Benjamin SAM

Okay, we’re back at it with the Benjamin Semiautomatic Marauder again today! Today will be a quicky but also an important-y. Brilliant reader, Kevin, reminded me of how I could bypass the SAM magazine by loading singly and see what the rifle was really doing. Reader GunFun1 said his SAM was shooting way better than what I showed you in Part 4. So — today is the day we find out for sure!

Pulled the baffles

Reader RidgeRunner advised me to pull all the baffles first, to verify that none of them was being hit by a pellet. I pulled all seven of them and the large holes through each one are clearly not being touched by pellets. We can rule out the baffles as a problem that causes inaccuracy. That leaves either the barrel or the magazine. Given that this is a semiauto, I suspect the magazine. Loading each pellet singly will make the determination.

Loading single shot

Because of the narrow SAM receiver slot that’s cut for the magazine, loading pellets single shot is not straightforward. At least it wasn’t for me. I tried needle-nosed pliers with a long thin nose, but what worked best was a hemostat — long thin clamping pliers used by surgeons. I didn’t clamp them. I only held onto each pellet loosely until the bolt pushed the pellet into the rifle’s chamber.

The test

I tried to repeat the first accuracy test from 25 yards exactly. The rifle was rested directly on a sandbag at 25 yards and the pellets were loaded singly. I positioned a light to shine on the breech so I could see to load the pellets. Care was taken not to damage them in any way. I did not adjust the scope for this test, but I will have more to say about the scope in a bit.

Crosman Premiers

In the first test that is covered in Part 4 I sighted-in with Crosman Premiers and also shot the smallest group of 10 with them. It measured 0.454-inches between centers.

Loading singly this time 10 Crosman Premiers went into 0.349-inches between centers at 25 yards. That’s enough better than the first test to be significant. The point of impact shifted over to the right but remained just as high as it was in the last test.

SAM single Premier group
When loaded singly the SAM put 10 Crosman Premier pellets into 0.349-inches at 25 yards.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS

Next up were ten JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets. In the first test the SAM put ten of them into 0.521-inches at 25 yards.

In today’s test by loading singly the SAM put ten JSB RS pellets into 0.431-inches at 25 yards. That’s quite a bit better than the last test. As before, the point of impact also shifted to the right just a little.

SAM single RS group
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets went into this “Mickey Mouse” group at 25 yards. It measures 0.431-inches between centers.

Air Arms 16-grain domes

The final pellet I tested is the one I was most interested in. In Part 4 the Air Arms 16-grain dome scattered all over the paper at 25 yards. The 10-shot group measured 1.159-inches. Would loading singly help this pellet?

Well, it did help! This time ten of the singly-loaded Air Arms domes went into 0.46-inches at 25 yards. It is the largest group of today’s test, but it’s almost the same size as the smallest group in Part 4 when the magazine was used! I find that fascinating!

SAM single Air Arms group
When loaded into the SAM one at a time, ten of the Air Arms 16-grain domes went into a group measuring 0.46-inches between centers at 25 yards.

Discussion

It should be clear to everyone that the SAM magazine is the reason the first accuracy test didn’t do so well. This is not my air rifle so I can’t modify the magazine the way reader GunFun1 told us about, but if I could I would. The SAM feeds reliably enough, though when I load it singly there is a slight problem. Longer, fatter pellets do not seat into the breech deeply enough to clear the air transfer port in the breech. That’s why I didn’t shoot a test group of Beeman Kodiaks. I shot four and had trouble getting them past the air transfer port unless I let the bolt slam on them. That seemed to open the group, so I stopped the test.

I will also point out that today the SAM is not very picky about the pellets it likes. That means we can rule out the barrel as a potential problem.

UTG scope was a huge benefit!

I told you that I mounted the UTG 4-14X44 SWAT scope on the SAM for Part 4. Well, that illuminated etched-glass reticle is worth the price of the scope! It made seeing the crosshairs so easy against the black bullseye!

Summary

This SAM is very accurate and today’s test proves it. The magazine may need a period of prolonged break-in. Or GunFun1’s modifications might do the trick.

I will shoot the SAM at 50 yards. Because of what we have seen today I will also load singly for that test. If I owned the rifle I would modify the magazine, but I will be sending it back and the mag has to remain as it came to me.


Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP Air Rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Marauder Semiauto
Benjamin’s new Semiauto Marauder repeating PCP.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Adjusting the power
  • The test
  • JSB Exact Jumbo
  • Beeman Kodiak
  • Misfeeds
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • How loud?
  • How much air was used?
  • Adjust the rifle back to the factory setting
  • Dial off 7/8 of a turn
  • Dial off another full turn
  • Dial off another 3/4 turn
  • Dial back a half turn
  • Dial back another half turn
  • The bottom line
  • The trigger
  • Summary

Today we look at the Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP air rifle adjusted up as high as it will go. I want to know how much power and also how many shots I can expect at this setting. I will also adjust the rifle back to how it came from the factory to see if I can achieve the former power by simply counting the revolutions of the adjustment screw.

As an aside, reader GunFun1 found out that his .22 Marauder magazines worked just fine in his SAM. He wanted to know because SAM magazines aren’t available yet. I do believe he increased their spring tension just a little.

Adjusting the power

The first step was to determine how far out the adjustment screw was set on the test rifle. To do that I unscrewed it until it stopped, which it did after 5-1/8 revolutions. That is all the power adjusted out.

After that I screwed it in as far as it will go without slipping. The manual says that it’s impossible to turn the screw in by more than 6 revolutions, and when I did I felt a click with every additional revolution. So Crosman has designed something to prevent over-tightening. Now I was ready to test the rifle.

The test

I will use the same pellets from the previous test in Part 2 so we can compare the power levels. I will also test the discharge sound again, to see if there has been any change.

JSB Exact Jumbo

This time I remembered the SAM is semiautomatic. I also remembered to press the charging handle forward and also the forward assist to properly seat the new pellet in the breech after installing a loaded magazine.

Last time at the factory setting the SAM pushed JSB Exact Jumbo pellets out at an average 804 f.p.s. The spread was 6 f.p.s. and the average energy generated was 22.81 foot-pounds. This time the velocity averaged 828 f.p.s. with a 10 f.p.s. spread from 821 to 831 f.p.s. The muzzle energy this time was 24.2 foot-pounds. That’s only a little faster after the adjustment, but as I said the adjustment screw was already turned in 5-1/8 turns as the rifle came from the box.

Beeman Kodiak

The next pellet I tested was the obsolete Beeman Kodiak, which is identical to the H&N Baracuda that’s still available. In Part Two this 21.14-grain pellet averaged 684 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 21.97 foot pounds. In this test the same pellet averaged 706 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 23.41 foot pounds. The spread was 10 f.p.s. from 703 to 713 f.p.s.

Misfeeds

With the Kodiak, though, there were several misfeeds. I only recorded 7 good shots out of the first 10, The other three were misfires. And when I tried to get the last three shots by reloadinbg the magazine a second time, all three were misfires. By misfires I mean that one pellet might have gone out at 333 f.p.s. followed by a double feed that went out at 515 f.p.s. Since it happened twice with this pellet I determined that the SAM doesn’t care for Kodiaks. So I stopped using them.

I think the Kodiak pellet is either too large or too heavy for the SAM’s action and it “confuses” the semiautomatic action. The same thing happens in semiautomatic firearms when the wrong ammo is used. In the case of the SAM I think the pellet is putting more backpressure on the action than it was designed for and that is what is bolloxing things up. This is something you must pay attention to if you plan to shoot a semiauto.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS

The last pellet I tested was the lightweight JSB Exact RS dome. In Part Two they averaged 865 f.p.s with a 5 f.p.s. spread. On the high power setting today the same pellet averaged 888 f.p.s. with a 9 f.p.s. spread from 885 to 894 f.p.s. At the average velocity the RS pellet generates 23.52 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

How loud?

In Part Two I recorded the rifle’s report as 84.3 decibels. How loud is it now that the power has been increased? My sound meter recorded it as 91.6 decibels, though it still sounded pretty quiet to me. I took several readings and this one was in the middle.

SAM report
With the power up all the way the SAM’s report was 91.6 decibels.

How much air was used?

At this point in the test 34 shots had been fired (the three magazines, plus 4 additional shots for the Kodiak pellet string). The onboard gauge says 2,300 psi remains in the reservoir. In Part 2 we learned that the test rifle runs out of steam when the onboard gauge reads around 1,600 psi. So, there are lots of shots remaining.

Adjust the rifle back to the factory setting

Can I now adjust the rifle back to where it was set when I first tested the rifle? Theoretically I should be able to “eyeball” the position of the 1/4-inch Allen screw, by watching the short end of the Allen wrench and return to that setting. Let’s see what happens when I try.

Dial off 7/8 of a turn

I dialed the wrench off 7/8 of as turn and recorded the following string with JSB RS pellets that had averaged 888 f.p.s. on high power.

Shot………Vel
1………….891
2………….888
3………….886
4………….881
5………….880
6………….880
7………….880
8………….889 Oh, oh! Wrong way.
9………….880
10..……….887

The average for this string is 884 f.p.s. so some velocity has been dialed away, but not much. Until shot eight I thought the rifle was going to settle down to a lower velocity.

Dial off another full turn

Next I dialed another full turn off the power screw. Here is what I got.

Shot………Vel
1………….877
2………….869
3………….870
4………….871
5………….871

Dial off another 3/4 turn

That was much closer to the 865 f.p.s. average for the RS, but I wanted to get even closer. So I dialed down the screw another 3/4-turn and got this.

Shot………Vel
6………….857
7………….853

Dial back a half turn

Wooops! I went too far. So I put back 1/2 turn of the power adjustment.

Shot………Vel
8………….867
9………….858
10..……….854

Dial back another half turn

Well, I’m close, but I want to get even closer, so I dialed in another 1/2 turn of power and got this.

Shot………Vel
1………….866
2………….862
3………….861
4………….864
5………….864
6………….861
7………….864
8………….857
9………….856
10..……….855

By the way, that’s 64 shots on a fill and the rifle still has 1,900 psi in the reservoir. So there is at least one more magazine’s worth of air.

The average for this string is 861 and I decided to leave the power set where it is. But there are two important things I have to say.

First, why didn’t the velocity go back to exactly where it was before when I adjusted the power screw to exactly where it had been set? Maybe I miscalculated where the screw was really set. Or maybe when you mess with the power setting it takes a long time for the rifle to settle back down.

Second, How come I dialed it down 3/4 turn of power and then put a full turn back in and the power didn’t go to higher than it was before the 3/4 turn adjustment? Same answer as before, except this time I know I did adjust the screw exactly as indicated.

The bottom line

The bottom line, guys, is to get a chronograph if you want to play around like this. Don’t think that counting screw turns is an exact science. This is the reason when someone says they are shooting their AirForce TalonSS at setting 8.12, it means nothing to anyone except that guy and only at the time he records it.  If he ever adjusts his power setting somewhere else he may never be able to get back to that exact velocity! Chronograph, chronograph chronograph!

The trigger

I must tell you about the trigger. Stage two is smooth and light, but there is absolutely no hint of where it’s going to break — other than the distance it has travelled. I’m starting to know where the rifle will fire by how far I have pulled the trigger. It’s a new experience for me, but it’s not hard to learn.

Summary

Well, the SAM didn’t go up as high as I thought it would. But it still has all the power I will ever need in the .22 semiauto. 

Remember that Kodiaks didn’t work so well this time and be willing to accept that as part of the cost of having a semiautomatic action.

The accuracy test is next.


BSA R10 MK2 precharged repeater: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSA R10 Mk2
BSA’s Mark 2 repeater has a rubber-covered beechwood stock.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Lots of discussion
  • Before we begin
  • Prevent supersonic
  • H&N Baracuda Magnum with 4.50mm head
  • H&N Sniper Magnum with 4.50mm head
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head
  • Crosman Premier heavys
  • Shot count
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the power of the BSA R10 MK2 precharged repeater. Remember that, although this particular rifle is no longer sold, it is very similar to the BSA R10 SE that’s currently available. So in essence this is a review of a current pellet rifle, even though it’s also something of an historical review.

Lots of discussion

For some reason this rifle sparked a lot of discussion among you readers. Most of it was about other things, which is fine with me. But a couple of you said that you did like the look of the R10. I put that “dog ugly” remark in the blog to see who would rise up to defend it. There weren’t as many as I anticipated. But you did have lots to say.

Before we begin

Before we start let’s look at a few things first. This rifle is very powerful. The .22-caliber version that’s still in production as the BSA R10 SE is supposed to generate 29 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The rifle I’m testing is a .177, and it was supposed to generate 21 foot-pounds. That’s obviously with heavier pellets, because precharged airguns generate higher energy with heavier pellets.

Prevent supersonic

I had already fired the rifle a couple times and I knew that at the velocities the lighter pellets exit the muzzle, it is impossible to silence this air rifle. But heavier pellets should exit at a velocity lower than the sound barrier, and that would make it reasonable quiet. I plan to test it both as it came and also with a DonnyFL silencer screwed on the front. That means I will be testing heavier pellets today.

Reader Brazos comments that he had the same rifle in the same caliber and his really liked the smaller head sizes. So I will be watching that, as we go. When we get to accuracy testing that will become more important.

H&N Baracuda Magnum with 4.50mm head

This Baracuda Magnum is a heavyweight in .177. Don’t confuse it with the much lighter but still heavy Baracuda and Baracuda Match. Ten of these 16.36-grain .177 domed pellets averaged 792 f.p.s. from the R10. That generates 22.79 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The low was 787 and the high was 798 f.p.s., so the difference was 11 f.p.s. I did see that waiting a few seconds after cocking added velocity, so the new regulator is no doubt breaking in. I’m only talking 5 seconds, or so. I started this 10-shot string with 232 bar in the rifle’s tank. At the end of 10 shots the gauge read 200 bar.

I shot the first shot with the rifle just as it came from the factory, and shot number two was with the silencer attached. Without the silencer the R10 generated 98.6 dB. When the silencer was attached it generated 82.5 dB. That is with the Baracuda Magnum pellet that averaged 792 f.p.s., so the sound barrier was not an issue. With the silencer, the R10 is as quiet as my best-tuned Diana 27. It’s definitely suburb-friendly. Without the silencer it’s about as loud as a standard breakbarrel, which is to say not bad at all. And thanks to the reader who reminded me of how to take a screen shot with my smartphone!

dB for unsilenced R10
R10 without the silencer generated 98.6 dB at the muzzle. That’s not that loud. It’s maybe too loud for a small yard, but fine for a larger one — say a half-acre.

dB for silenced R10
With the DonnyFL silencer attached the muzzle discharge dropped to 82.5 dB. That’s just over the ambient quiet room level.

H&N Sniper Magnum with 4.50mm head

The H&N Sniper Magnum domed pellet weighs 15 grains. They averaged 815 f.p.s. for ten shots. At the average velocity the Sniper Magnum generates 22.13 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The low was 805 and the high was 822 f.p.s. — a difference of 17 f.p.s.

H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head

Ten 10.65-grain Baracuda Match pellets averaged 933 f.p.s. the low was 928 and the high was 939 f.p.s. — a spread of 11 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 20.59 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Crosman Premier heavys

The last pellet I tested was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier Heavy. This pellet is the lightest pellet tested, but it’s also the only pellet made from hardened lead. Ten averaged 928 f.p.s. from the R10 with a 11 f.p.s. spread. The low was 922 and the high was 933 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 20.08 foot pounds of energy.  And, after 40 shots since the fill there was now about 140 bar remaining in the rifle.

R10 pressure 40 shots
After the first 40 shots this is what the onboard pressure gauge read. I’m calling it 140 bar.

Shot count

But after 40 shots at this power level, where do we stand? To find out I shot 5 more Baracuda Magnums. In the first string they averaged 792 f.p.s. Now they averaged 790 f.p.s. After that I fired five more Sniper Magnums. In the first string they averaged 815 f.p.s. This time they averaged 821 f.p.s. So, after 50 shots the R10 is still on the reg. The reservoir pressure now read 125 bar.

Then I fired five Crosman Premier Heavys. In the first string they averaged 928 f.p.s. Instead of showing you the average let me show the entire string.

Shot……….Vel.
1…………..933
2…………..922
3…………..920
4…………..919
5…………..917

From this short string it appears the rifle is coming off the reg. But let’s look at five Baracuda Match before we decide. In the first string they averaged 933 f.p.s.

Shot……….Vel.
1…………..938
2…………..927
3…………..923
4…………..919
5…………..913

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the rifle has come to the end of its useful air. At the end of these shots the onboard gauge reads about 105 bar. I have caught it right at that instant that it dropped off the regulator. So I am going to say this BSA R10 Mark II can get 60 good shots on a fill.

Trigger pull

As it came from the factory the two-stage adjustable trigger had a first stage pull of 9 ounces, followed by a second stage break at 1 pound, 9.7 ounces. The second stage had two spots of creep in the pull and was not crisp, though it was light. The instructions in the manual said I could reduce the second-stage travel, so I adjusted the trigger.

In the first place, there isn’t supposed to be any second-stage travel! But BSA provides an adjustment to get rid of it, so I tried it.

I did remove the reservoir that the manual calls the “buddy bottle,” and then the stock came off with the removal of one Allen-head bolt. Then I adjusted the second stage travel. To my utter surprise — it really worked! I have adjusted several airgun triggers through the years, but most of them don’t do much, if anything, to change the trigger pull. This BSA trigger, though, actually responded to my adjustment and all the creep in stage two went away!

After I replaced the stock and tested the pull again I was surprised that the trigger now breaks crisply. Often after the stock is back some creep can be detected, but not this time. Stage one is still 9 ounces and stage two is now 1 pound nine ounces on the nose!

Summary

Well, I still don’t think this BSA R10 Mark 2 is an attractive air rifle, but I now have a lot more respect for what it can do. It gets a lot of shots at a reasonably stable velocity before falling off the regulator. It has a great trigger and the magazine doesn’t stick above the top of the receiver. This is going to be a fun one to shoot for accuracy!


AirForce Texan: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Texan
AirForce Texan big bore.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Mr. Hollowpoint
  • The test
  • Two important things
  • Bullet seating
  • Shot count
  • 255-grain bullet target 2
  • 300-grain bullet group 1
  • 300-grain group 2
  • 350-grain bullet
  • 365-grain bullet 
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I finally report on my AirForce Texan .458 that we looked at last in September. Some reader asked me to try different commercial bullets in my rifle, and while I was talking to Ton Jones at AirForce he said they really like the bullets Mr. Hollowpoint, Robert Vogel, makes. So I contacted him and ordered a selection of bullets to test.

Mr. Hollowpoint

Robert was on a hog hunt when I contacted him, but when he returned we communicated and he generously sent me a sampling of some of his .45 caliber bullets. I asked for them to be sized .459, because my Texan’s bore is .458. He said he understood and would try his best to satisfy my needs.

If you get nothing else from today’s report get this. The best accuracy with lead bullets comes with bullets that are sized exactly the diameter of the bore, measured from the depth of one groove to the depth of the groove on the opposite side, or up to one-thousandth of an inch larger. In my experience, one-thousandth of an inch larger is best.

Because Mr. Hollowpoint casts his own bullets, he can control the sizes, up to the limits of his molds. And I have to tell you this — I have been casting lead bullets for over a half-century and I can see that Robert Volgle does excellent work. Not all who cast bullets do. Many people cast hard lead bullets because the antimony that hardens the lead also makes the lead flow better. But these are bullets so soft a thumbnail can scratch them. That’s what you want for a big bore airgun.

By maintaining a tight watch on the temperature of the lead and the bullet molds during casting good bullets can also be made from soft lead, and it’s obvious that Robert Vogel knows what he is doing. Every bullet mold has a “personality” of its own, which means you have to learn what they like before you can do good work.

One last observation. Casting hollowpoint bullets involves extra steps that many bullet casters won’t take the time to do. Not only do the bullet molds have to remain at a constant temperature — the hollowpoint pin also has to, and that’s not a given.

Robert sent an me assortment of bullets to try, and I’m not going to rush things. I selected four of them to start with. We will refer to them by their nominal weights in grains. There is a 255, a 300 a 350 and a 365.

Texan bullets
Mr. Hollowpoint’s lead bullets are well-cast. As you can see, the shapes differ a lot, though they are all hollowpoints.

The test

I shot 5-shot groups for this test because of the amount of air being used by the rifle. I shot off a concrete bench with the rifle rested in a long sandbag. The rifle is scoped with a UTG 6-24X56 SWAT scope.

Tom shoots
It was good to get behind the Texan once more.

Two important things

When I visited Ton in September he reminded me of two important things. The first is to always seat the bullets deep in the Texan’s breech or they will tilt in the bore. That destroys accuracy. The second thing is to adjust the rifle’s power adjuster for each bullet you shoot. It’s best to find one good bullet and set the rifle up for it, rather than to hop from bullet to bullet. It’s the same as for a pellet rifle that likes certain pellets, only with the Texan it’s more sophisticated because you are adjusting the powerplant for each bullet you shoot.

I did one of those things in today’s test but not the other. I seated each bullet deep into the rifling like Ton said, but I did not change the power adjuster. Until I find the bullet I’m searching for there is no sense adjusting the power for each bullet. I will waste all my samples just trying! So let’s look at bullet seating first.

Bullet seating

I started shooting the 255-grain bullet first. Shots one and two overlapped each other on the paper, and then shot three landed 1.5-inches lower. I wondered what caused that and then remembered my lesson from Ton in seating each bullet. So bullet 4 I seated properly and it went back to bullets 1 and 2. Lesson remembered! Let’s look at what I’m saying.

Texan 255 1
Bullets one and two overlapped, but bullet 3 dropped because it wasn’t seated properly. Bullet 4 was then seated correctly and went back to bullets 1 and 2. Group measures 1.991-inches between centers at 50 yards, with the top three in 0.516-inches.

Texan 255 loose
The 255-grain bullet lies loose in the loading trough. Whatever you do, don’t close the breech with the bullet laying out like this!

Texan 255 cocked
Here I’ve pushed the bullet into the breech half-heartedly. Don’t do this! the rear of the bullet is tilted up. I have exaggerated the angle for you to see. But I can feel a much smaller tilt when it clicks down straight. I press the bullet down and then in with my thumb.

All bullets do not seat in the barrel to the same depth, but each different type of bullet does seat into the rifling to the same depth every time when the same thumb pressure is applied. And it takes a LOT of thumb pressure! The rifling straightens the bullet, aligning it with the axis of the bore and setting up the rifle for the best accuracy.

Texan 255 seated
This is how deep the 255-grain bullet seats when it is done right. 

Seating the fourth bullet right is what caused it to return to where the first two bullets strike the target at 50 yards in that first target. And here is BB’s tip to Texan owners. Press the base of the bullet down and in to seat it correctly.

Shot count

I remembered refilling the Texan after 3 shots in the past, but that was in 2016 when I was shooting at 100 yards. This time I fired 4 times on the first targbet and there was still 2,300 psi remaining from a 3,000 psi fill. So, on the second target I fired the rifle 5 times on a fill. That is very good air management for a rifle in the Texan’s power range. I haven’t chronographed these bullets yet, but suffice to say we are getting something in the low 300 foot-pounds range with a bullet this light.

255-grain bullet target 2

I just shot the second target and did nothing special. Just 5 shots, one after the other. This time the group was more open, measuring 2.388-inches between centers. I still think this 255-grain bullet is worth spending some time on, but for now I moved on.

Texan 255 group 2
The second group of 255-grain bullets is more open and larger. Five shots in 2.388-inches at 50 yards.

300-grain bullet group 1

Next to be tested was the 300-grain bullet. This one has narrow bands that the rifling engages It seats easier and a little deeper. The first 5 shots landed in 1.258-inches at 50 yards. Shot number 4 is the stray and the other four bullets are in 0.504-inches between centers. Wow! Now, THAT is a group!

Texan 300 group 1
Five 300-grain Mr. Hollowpoint bullets are in 1.258-inches at 50 yards with 4 in 0.504-inches.

This is a bullet worth pursuing! And I can tell that the power adjuster is set almost optimal for this one. It probably needs to come out (less hammer pressure) just a little. A second group might tell us more.

300-grain group 2

The second 50-yard group of five 300-grain bullets is also small, measuring 1.232-inches between centers. Three of the bullets are in 0.349-inches. This bullet really wants to shoot!

Texan 300 group 2
Five 300-grain bullets are in 1.232-inches at 50 yards, with three of them in 0.349-inches.

350-grain bullet

Next to be tried was the 350-grain bullet. Five of them (still on a single 5-shot fill) went into a vertical 3.714-inch group at 50 yards. Given the 300-grain bullet’s performance I think I’ll leave this one alone.

Texan 350 group
Five 350-grain bullets strung vertically in this 3.714-inch group.

365-grain bullet 

The final bullet to be tested was the 365-grainer. The Texan put five of them into 4.857-inches at 50 yards. It was another vertical group and the worst one of the test.

Texan 365 group
The Texan put five 365-grain bullets into this vertical group that measures 4.857-inches between centers. It’s the largest group of the test.

Discussion

In light of the 300-grain bullet’s performance, I think it is the one to pursue. The 255-grainer is also good and shows promise to be even better, but the 300-grain groups tell me they are the bullet the Texan likes the best out of the ones I tested — so far. I have one more Mr. Hollowpoint bullet to test — a 333-grainer. I also want to try adjusting the power setting to optimize the rifle for the 300-grain bullet. If it turns out the way I imagine, that will be the bullet to order in quantity.

Of course I also need to test the velocity of this bullet, so we can find out the power. No sense doing that until I’m sure the power adjustment is set to the optimum. And then if this bullet warrants it I will shoot it at 100 yards.

I did measure the diameter of the 300-grainer, though, and my caliper says it is 0.4570- to 0.4595-inches across at the base. Soft lead bullets usually measure out of round after they have been handled awhile. But their softness squishes them into all corners of the bore, which is where the accuracy and velocity come from.

Summary

That’s it for this report. But as you can see, we aren’t finished with the .458 Texan just yet.


What do YOU want?: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • In a handgun
  • A target BB pistol
  • What it’s for
  • A hunting handgun
  • Any holes?
  • Get real!
  • Over to you
  • Summary

This is a continuation of your opportunity to affect the world of airguns. I told you last time that airgun manufacturers all over the world read this blog daily. Of course there are exceptions to that from time to time. Sometimes a personnel change at a company diverts the attention of its people to other things and we loose them for awhile, but then someone in the company has a question about something airgun-related and they go online to research it. That usually brings them to this blog and they bring the others in their company back with them.

In a handgun

What do you want to see in an air handgun? It can be anything from a simple BB gun to a big bore airgun capable of taking big game. I’ll get you started and then turn the discussion over to you.

A target BB pistol

Something I have long wanted to see is a target air pistol that’s lightweight and easy to cock. It must be inexpensive yet deadly accurate — BUT!

Okay — right up to the BUT what I’m asking for sounds like what a lot of folks say they want. But there is a difference. I have a way of getting what I want that most people don’t. I give a manufacturer a solid and inexpensive way of doing what I am asking.

I want a target BB pistol that’s made along the lines of the Daisy Match Grade Avanti Champion 499 BB gun. Because of how the powerplant of a BB gun works, the shot tube/barrel on this pistol can be shorter than the one on the 499. It can be made from the same tubing as the shot tube in the long gun. Give me an overlever cocking mechanism that is essentially the 499 spring and piston with the lever on top of the spring tube and in front of where it is now, rather than in the rear. Give me a good Patridge front sight whose width is well-matched to the notch in the rear.

Patridge sight
The Patridge front sight (named for E.S. Patridge)  is usually undercut at the back to eliminate reflection. Some are slanted slightly to the front.

For the rear sight give me a good adjustable one with a square notch and fine clicks for both windage and elevation. Put it as far back on the top as feasible, for a longer sight radius.

Give me good grips like the ones on the Daisy Targeteer that shot BBs. They don’t have to be expensive. They do have to be good. Think Crosman Marks I and 2.

Targeteer 177
Daisy’s Targeteer 177 wasn’t expensive, but it did have nice hand-filling grips.

What it’s for

An air pistol like this is ideal for teaching someone how to shoot with a handgun. Until you train shooters, you can’t fathom all the differences there are between teaching somerone to shoot a long gun and a handgun.

This pistol doesn’t need to be accurate to a great distance — 5 meters is fine. A velocity of 240-250 f.p.s. is also fine. So it should be obvious that I’m talking about a BB gun.

The overlever cocking means almost anyone can cock it. The lever runs from the front sight along the top of the gun to the rear of the gun, and it pivots there to pull a lightweight spring and piston back to the cocked position. The light weight makes the pistol easy to hold in one hand, so the basics of handgun marksmanship can be learned by almost anyone.

A pistol like this could expand the Daisy International BB gun championships. It could be an ideal tool for teaching new shooters how to shoot a handgun. There is no good air handgun for training new shooters. Women and youngsters, especially, would be glad to have a light accurate target pistol. This could be the one to do all of that.

A hunting handgun

We already have several wonderful hunting air handguns. In the lower end of power I just reviewed the Ataman AP16, and don’t forget that October is the month when I will pick a winner of the pistol I reported on from the US readers of this blog. 

In the same power range as the Ataman is the Benjamin Marauder pistol. It’s less expensive and just as accurate, with a trigger we all talk about.

To step up in power you can move to the TalonP by AirForce Airguns. It’s very affordable, yet delivers the best power of any commercial air pistol today. A host of factory accessories can turn it into a handy carbine very quickly. Add a longer barrel and boost the power dramatically!

Any holes?

So we do have good hunting air pistols today. But are there any gaps?

Yes, there are no hunting air pistols in the 25-40 foot-pound range. Is that even a valid thing to consider? Well, any gun that’s built for that power range has to be wary of the TalonP, so watch the price, the overall length, the accuracy and perhaps the flexibility, too.

Some people want a lot more power than air pistols give them and they want it in a package that fits conveniently into a holster. Oh, and it would be okay if the maker charged as much as $300 for such an airgun!

Get real!

For starters, if you are a reader of this blog for very long you know why such an air pistol is impossible. And I’m not talking about the price. To get power from a precharged airgun in any caliber requires a longer barrel. You can’t get there with higher air pressure alone — just ask those guys who have built 4,500 psi airguns, only to see them eclipsed by guns that fill to a much lower pressure but have longer barrels! The laws of physics cannot be broken.

And, speaking about price, let’s get real. When a company comes out with the next great thing they are going to charge for it. They know that there are those who will pay a lot to get the latest technology. If they are the only ones selling it, they would be fools not to capitalize on their situation. How many of you ever turned down a raise at work because it was not in your company’s best interest?

The time always comes when the demand goes down and prices have to be slashed. If the bottom line is your main concern, be prepared to wait.

Over to you

There you go. I have given you a few thoughts to get you started, now you take over and tell the world what you want in an air pistol. I liked my summary to Part 1 so well that I decided to just use it again.

Summary

Want to affect the world of airguns? Then stop tipping over the porta-potties and help us empty the garbage cans!


AirForce Texan: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


AirForce Texan big bore.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Why more air?
  • Why a big bore?
  • Texan operation
  • The big bores that fill to 4,500 psi
  • Big bore bullet philosophy
  • Cocking and Uncocking
  • Can it be uncocked?
  • Summary

In Part One I hopefully familiarized you with the AirForce Texan. Specifically I am talking about the .45 caliber Texan. AirForce and Pyramyd Air both call it a .457-caliber rifle, but it’s really a .458. Only bullets sized .458 and larger will be accurate.

These days you can get either this rifle or the new .50-caliber rifle with the standard 490cc tank that fills to 3000 psi and gets 3-6 shots, depending on the bullet fired and the power setting, or you can get the carbon fiber tank with the TX2 valve. That one fills to 3,.600 psi. The TX2 valve opens more to pass more air and it closes faster to conserve air better. It does use more air with each shot, but it also has more air. Expect 6 or more good shots from a fill to 3,500 psi.

Why more air?

The TX2 valve uses more air to give the bullet more of a push. That equals greater velocity which means more power. Do you need that to hunt big game? No. A .45 caliber big bore that produces 500 foot-pounds at the muzzle will take down a 2,000 lb. American bison, which is about as big as it gets. Whitetail deer are being taken with relatively small caliber big bore airguns such as .357s and even .308s!

Why a big bore?

Currently many people are thinking about a time when they may have to hunt for their food. Certainly a firearm can do all that needs to be done, but there are concerns that, when the time comes, there may not be any firearms, or it may not be possible to use them or get ammunition for them, and what do you do then? I am showing you how to load ammunition for that reason.

Many other people just want to be prepared in case those things happen. A big bore airgun is nearly ideal, since air is free and bullets can be cast from lead. With a big bore airgun  air and bullets are all you need, besides the rifle.

Yes, we can discuss bows and other things. Airguns are just one solution. However, they are the topic of this report.

Texan operation

Enough talk about the why. Now let’s find out about the how.

The valve in this rifle is not the simple knock-open design familiar to most PCP airgunners. It does work that way, but this valve is balanced to not need a powerful thump to knock it open. Instead of just slamming the valve open the way most big bores do, the Texan’s valve opens more precisely. The amount of time it remains open is partly controlled by the gun’s tuning mechanism and partly by the weight of the bullet that’s being shot.

A heavier bullet moves slower, and therefore remains in the bore longer. As long as the bullet is in the barrel, it prevents all the compressed air from escaping, and the air pressure continues to push back against the firing valve. That back pressure prevents the valve from closing.

The valve dwell time, or the time it remains open, is therefore a combination of the tuning mechanism adjustment and the weight of the bullet. The results are fantastic—better than any other big bore has ever achieved.

A Texan shooter can, at will, change the amount of force with which the striker hits the valve by simply adjusting the bullet tuning mechanism or adjuster. To do this, the sidelever must be forward to expose the adjustment wheel in a window on the left side of the frame. The wheel in that window is turned clockwise to increase the tension on the striker spring for lighter bullets and counterclockwise for heavier bullets.

Bullet adjuster
The bullet adjuster on the left side of the frame is exposed when the cocking lever is forward. This is my very early Texan that I have adjusted for heavy bukllets. Use something like a ballpoint pen to move the wheel. Push the holes up to turn the wheel out (longer valve opening time) for heavy bullets and down, which is in, for lighter bullets. The marks along the top are rough references. The adjuster is set at about  2.5 (arrow).

This adjuster is called the bullet adjuster because it is adjusting the gun to the bullet. Yes, the power is affected, but the bullet is what is being adjusted for.

Yes there are other big bore air rifles that get up to 10 shots per fill and I wouldn’t want to be hit by any of them! But the last shots those airguns fire have nowhere near the power needed to dispatch large game humanely. The last of the (perhaps) 6 shots of a Texan can still do the job, as they have greater power than the first shots of those other big bores.

When the striker spring was properly adjusted, I got six shots with a 215-grain .458 pure lead semi-wadcutter bullet on a single fill of air. The velocities of those six shots that started with a 3,000 psi fill were 835 f.p.s., 899 f.p.s., 882 f.p.s., 870 f.p.s., 856 f.p.s. and 830 f.p.s. The lowest energy in that string was 329 foot-pounds and the high was 386 foot-pounds! I’ve never seen a big bore rifle put out six consecutive shots at that power level on one charge of air! In fact, until I saw that chrono ticket, I had been refilling the rifle after every second shot. Suddenly, it dawned on me how differently this gun works!

The big bores that fill to 4,500 psi

Now that I’ve shown you what a Texan can do on a fill of 3,000 psi, what can those other radical big bores that fill to 4,500 psi do? There are several on the market and while they are not exactly in high rate production, they should be considered.

Well, they are powerful. Some get over 600 foot-pounds of energy on their first shot. But shot two drops below 500 foot-pounds and then it’s time to refill. Only you won’t get a full fill because your carbon fiber tank is no longer at 4,500 psi.

Big bore bullet philosophy

Another thing most shooters don’t appreciate—in fact, many cannot believe that bullets from a big bore airgun go right through medium-sized game and out the other side. Unless they hit a large bone inside the animal, that bullet will slip right on through. I’ve experienced this personally several times, plus I’ve heard the same thing from other hunters. Big bore bullets are seldom found inside animals like whitetail deer and sheep.

During this testing I shot my own cast bullets plus bullets that were provided by Tin Starr. They make bullets for cowboy action shooting around the country and they also make big bore lead bullets

sTin Starr bullets
Tin Starr bullets that worked best were the 405-grain hollow base on the left, the 350-grain flat nose, 240-grain round nose and finally on the right is the best bullet of all—the 215-grain semi-wadcutter.

bullet in trough
A bullet is in the loading trough, waiting for you top push it into the breech.

Cocking and Uncocking

I said I would talk more about cocking the rifle. The sidelever does not work the way you imagine it should. There’s no heavy spring to fight against the forward movement of the lever. It takes about one pound of effort to swing open the breech for loading.

Okay, if the lever is easy to open, then the effort has to come when it is closed — right? No, that’s wrong, too. The closing effort is also minimal. It might take as much as five pounds to close the action. Somehow, all the effort of cocking the striker spring has been bypassed! It’s like getting free money or seeing an election promise that’s actually delivered!

When you do this is you’re only compressing a 22-lb. spring. That’s very light.

Can it be uncocked?

The ease of this operation gives you a clue that the Texan’s action is different than any you have ever tried. But there’s one more huge question to ask. How do you uncock this beast?

Other big bores are uncocked by grabbing hold of the bolt or cocking handle and pulling the trigger. When the sear releases the striker, you ride it forward with the bolt handle until it comes to rest against the valve stem. If you didn’t restrain the striker, dry-firing one of these monsters is enough to draw attention to yourself from several houses away.

The Texan uncocks much easier. When the gun is cocked, open the lever all the way again and then pull it closed just far enough to allow the automatic safety to be released. The sidelever handle has to move back about ¾ of an inch for this. Then, just pull the trigger and the sear will release, allowing the striker spring to relax. It’s completely safe, even though you’re uncocking a rifle with a 600+ foot-pound potential.

Summary

Now that we have a good start on the Texan, where shall I go next? I have a good idea, but I would like to hear your input.


Ataman AP16 Standard air pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Ataman AP16 Standard
Ataman AP16 PCP repeater.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

Adjustable sights
It doesn’t matter
The test
Sight in
Mount a dot sight
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
Air Arms 16-grain dome
Air Arms Falcon pellets
JSB Hades
Loud!
Conclusions
Summary

Today is accuracy day for the Ataman AP16 Standard precharged air pistol. We learned in Part 2 that the AP16 Standard gets up to 46 good shots from one fill. I didn’t shoot that many in the tests today so I only filled the pistol once.

Adjustable sights

We know that the rear sight slides left and right in a dovetail and is held fast by a setscrew.  That’s easy to figure out. It’s the front sight that you need help with. There are no instructions in the manual and the front sight controls elevation by raising and lowering the blade. I told you in Part 2 I would tell you how to adjust it so let’s see.

To raise the impact of the pellet the front sight blade needs to go lower. It needs to go in a direction opposite how you want the pellet to move. There is a screw in front of the sight blade and another at the rear. The blade is pivoting on a crosspin and seems to have a coiled spring under the front. It seems if you screw the front screw down and loosen the rear one, the blade will drop lower. But don’t take my word for it. Play with the screws and watch the front blade. I say that because adjusting this sight is very confusing.

Ataman AP16 Standard sight down
The front sight blade is adjusted low.

Ataman AP16 Standard sight up
The front sight blade is adjusted up.

It doesn’t matter

It makes no difference how the open sights adjust because nobody will use them. You guys know that I can shoot an air pistol with open sights — but not this one! The rear notch is too wide and I can’t center the front blade in it effectively. Let me show you what I mean.

The test

I shot from 10 meters with the pistol resting directly on a sandbag. Since the circular clip holds 7 pellets, each group is 7 shots.

Sight in

I checked the pistol’s sights with the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy that Tyler Patner said are the most accurate pellets. One shot at 12 feet told me I was on paper after fooling around with the sights for photos. Then back to 10 meters for the final 6 rounds.

Ataman AP16 Standard sight-in
The first shot from 12 feet is above the dime. The next 6 shots are from 10 meters. As you can see, I can’t shoot these open sights.

Mount a dot sight

After seeing my group I decided to mount a dot sight. Fortunately the UTG Reflex Micro was available, so I removed the open sights and mounted it. That took 20 minutes, then another 10 to sight-in with that sight and then the test could begin. 

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

First up were JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. Seven went into 0.529-inches at 10 meters. The group was a little high and left, so I adjusted three clicks down and three to the right afterward.

Ataman AP16 Standard Jumbo Heavy
Seven JSB Jumbo Heavy pellets went into 0.529-inches at 10 meters.

Air Arms 16-grain domes

Next to be tested were 7 Air Arms 16-grain domes. They hit the center of the bull, so my adjustment of the dot sight was spot on! Seven went into 0.293-inches at 10 meters.  It’s a good-looking group! In fact, it’s the best group of the test.

Ataman AP16 Standard Air Arms domes
Look at this little bitty group. It’s right where it’s supposed to be. Seven Air Arms domes in 0.293-inches at 10 meters.

Air Arms Falcon pellets

Next I tried 7 Air Arms Falcon domes in the AP16. Once again they went to the center of the bull and clustered in 0.508-inches at 10 meters

Ataman AP16 Standard Falcons
Seven Falcon pellets went into 0.508-inches at 10 meters.

JSB Hades

The last pellet I tested in the AP16 was the Hades hollowpoint from JSB. Seven of them went into 0.526-inches at 10 meters.

Loud!

This pistol is very loud! Later on this week I hope to have a solution for that. And no, it isn’t a silencer — exactly.

Conclusions

The AP16 is extremely accurate. Mount a good dot sight and experience it! Don’t even try the open sights. I think they are a lost cause. 

Summary

The Ataman AP16 stacks up to be a fine hunting air pistol. It gets a lot of shots on a fill and puts pellets exactly where they are wanted. If you are looking for a powerful hunting air pistol, this could be the one.