Beeman R8: A classic from the past – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

My new R8 made me sit up and take notice!

Today, I’ll look at the accuracy of my new Beeman R8. I waited until now to do this test because I wanted to be off the IV and be capable of doing my best with this rifle. Along that line, I have some good news to share about my condition.

Last Thursday, I went for a walk outdoors. It was about a half mile or less around my housing subdivision, but it was all I could do at the time. When I finished, I was tired for about an hour, but then something wonderful happened. I awoke out of the fog I’ve been in since this thing began in March. My head cleared and I was able to think clearly for the first time.

The next day I stretched the walk and the day after that I went about one mile. I’m doing that every morning now and it gets my blood flowing for the day. I have jump-started my metabolism with the result that I’m able to eat all I want (though not to excess) and I’m losing weight, because I’m building muscle to metabolize the fat. I feel wonderful, which is why I felt I was ready to give this rifle a fair test.

This R8 was represented to me as a very accurate air rifle. Well, I hear that a lot in my job, and it doesn’t always work out. Often, what someone else thinks is accurate is different from what I expect. Then, there are other times when my technique can drag out a decent amount of accuracy from just about anything (except for the B3-1). But it’s a real strain.

Then there are those very rare occasions when I get a rifle in my hands that does everything the owner has told me it could do. Those rifles are the natural shooters of this world, and they’re as scarce as hen’s teeth. I think this R8 is one of them.

I shot this rifle at 25 yards, which is the longest range I can get at my house. I’m not yet able to drive to other ranges, so I have to work with what I have at home, but 25 yards is a good test for a spring rifle.

It always takes me some time to get familiar with every new rifle, so the first 20 shots or so are not for record. Fortunately, last weekend, we were all advising reader rikib of the need for repeatable head placement to cancel parallax, so the lesson was still fresh in my mind. The Tyrolean stock on the R8 seems perfect for benchrest, because I can feel the spot weld precisely. It took a while to get into the groove. Once I did, I simply could do no wrong with this rifle. I actually had to adjust the scope off the aim point to leave a spot to put the crosshairs, because this gun wants to throw every pellet into the same hole! I knew where every pellet was going, and they all went where I expected them to go.

The first pellet
I had been told that this rifle really likes JSB Exact RS domes, and they should be seated deep in the breech. That’s what I started with. The scope needed some adjustment to shoot where I wanted, and that allowed me to get comfortable with the rifle. I found my lips kissing the front edge carving of the high cheekpiece, which gave me the perfect repeatable feel shot after shot.

The first group I fired for the record was unnerving! I stopped at just five shots, because I just didn’t want to screw up that group. I wanted to have something good to show you even if I couldn’t hold 10 shots for a group.

Five JSB Exact RS pellets shot into this group at 25 yards.

But I needn’t have bothered, because it was easy to group 10 shots. This R8 groups like a fine PCP, and that’s no exaggeration. If you do your part, you’ll get a screaming group at 25 yards.

Ten more JSB Exact RS pellets went into this group at 25 yards. This rifle just puts them in there!

Crosman Premier lites
The next pellet to be tried was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome.

Ten Premier lites were just as tight as the JSB RS pellets at 25 yards.

H&N Field Target
The final pellet I tried was the H&N Field Target pellet. At 8.5 grains, these are from half to a full grain heavier than the other pellets I tried. They printed a slightly larger group at 25 yards, though it was all one hole, too.

H&N Field Target pellets went into a slightly larger group at 25 yards.

The scope
The Burris 4.5-14x32AO scope is quite a piece of glass. Because of a bad experience I had with a Burris compact scope years ago, I’ve been off this brand, but the Timberline scope on this R8 has turned me around. This glass has the timeless quality of the old Beeman SS2 scope that still commands a place in airgunners’ hearts and gun racks. It’s clear, sharp and focuses as close as 21 feet on high power.

This Beeman R8 is a natural shooter. Hold it correctly, and you won’t miss your target. This particular rifle is beyond the norm because of the excellent Tyrolean stock. Normally, a Tyrolean stock restricts the rifle to just offhand use, but this stock allows for a good hold off the bench, too. That means it would probably work well in a number of hunting holds.

Besides being a knockout for looks, the stock complements the accuracy potential of the basic rifle. Lastly, kudos to whoever tuned it, because it shoots like a dream. A springer that’s as accurate as a PCP doesn’t happen every day.

Beeman R8: A classic from the past – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

My R8 was customized inside and out.

Well, it’s Friday again and time for another good subject to chew on over the weekend. Today, we’ll examine the power of this Beeman R8. In factory trim, it was supposed to have a top velocity of 720 f.p.s., but of course this one’s been tuned. Let’s see what it does.

Before we start, I must correct what I said about the scope. It does, indeed, have AO, as the picture in Part 1 clearly shows. Sorry for that slip-up.

Cocking effort
While I was shooting through the chronograph, I noticed that the barrel was loose at the pivot point. A breakbarrel barrel should remain in whatever position you move it to after the rifle is cocked. That’s when there is proper tension on the pivot bolt.

I tightened the pivot bolt and gained another 35 f.p.s. But I may also have added some extra effort to the cocking stroke. It now measures 25 lbs. on my bathroom scale. That said, this is an easy breakbarrel to cock. The barrel and muzzlebrake combination give a lot of leverage and the cocking stroke is quite smooth.

The domed head of the R8 pivot bolt is accessed on the left side of the rifle. An identical nut on the right side locks the bolt in position.

Trigger pull
The Rekord trigger is set to break at 14 ounces. I normally like them to be adjusted a little heavier, but this one seems safe enough, so I’ll leave it as is. For an offhand rifle it is ideal, as long as the shooter leaves the safety on until ready to take the shot.

Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets
The Air Arms Diabolo Field pellet is made by JSB, so you know the quality is high. They weigh 8.4 grains, nominally, and are made from soft lead. In this R8, they averaged 668 f.p.s., with a spread from 661 to 678. The average muzzle energy is 8.33 foot-pounds.

RWS Hobbys
The RWS Hobby is a lightweight lead pellet. At 7 grains, it’s one of the lightest lead pellets on the market and often used for velocity testing as a result. In the R8, they averaged 721 f.p.s., with a spread from 707 to 747. The one shot that went 747 seemed like an anomaly, because the next-fastest shot was 20 f.p.s. slower. The average muzzle energy was 8.08 foot-pounds. And the factory spec of 720 f.p.s. has been met.

JSB Exact RS
A little bird told me that JSB Exact RS pellets are best in this rifle. The RS Exact is a light (7.33 grains) dome with thin walls. A rifle of this power might be exactly what a light pellet with thin walls needs. We shall see!

They averaged 718 f.p.s. with a spread from 712 to 721. That’s certainly the most consistent pellet I tested in the rifle. The average muzzle energy was 8.39 foot-pounds, the highest of this session.

Crosman Premier lite
The 7.9-grain Premiers seemed a logical choice for a rifle of this power. Plus, I like to use them as a standard candle, to give airgunners a sense of how the gun performs. They averaged 646 f.p.s. with a spread from 634 to 653. That’s an average muzzle energy of 7.32 foot-pounds, pretty far off the pace, as far as the other pellets are concerned.

Firing behavior
The Tyrolean R8 shoots like a tuned rifle — dead calm. There’s a pulse you can feel, but sometimes it feels like someone next to you shot their rifle instead of the one you are holding. Somebody did a very good job with the action. We’ll look at accuracy next, plus I’ll give you my thoughts on the scope.

Beeman R8: A classic from the past – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I get started today, I’d like to remind all you BB gun collectors that the annual Daisy Get Together is coming up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on August 22. It’s open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is $2. If that’s not the best deal for an airgun show, I’d like to know what is. This is an advanced show, where the finest collectible BB guns in existence may possibly turn up.

For a flyer and more information, contact Bill Duimstra (616-738-2425 or ) or Wes Powers (517-423-4148).

Now, on to today’s report. Wacky Wayne prompted this one. He asked a question about the R8 earlier this week; and, as I had recently acquired one, I thought it was time to share. Plus, I like giving you guys something interesting to chew on over the weekend.

The Beeman R8 was imported and sold by Beeman from 1983 through 1997. I had no idea it was that old or lasted so long until I looked it up in the new Blue Book of Airguns, 8th Edition. It was made in .177 only and produced 720 f.p.s. — presumably with lightweight pellets. I believe it was a kissing cousin of the Weihrauch HW50 of the day. It had Beeman R1 styling, which meant checkering on the pistol grip, a stock that extended to the end of the baseblock and a sharp contour to the cheekpiece. At 7.1 lbs., it was a slightly bigger brother to the R7.

My R8 was customized inside and out.

As you can see from the picture, my R8 isn’t 100 percent stock. In fact, it was extensively re-worked. Besides the stock, which I’ll address in a moment, the action has all-new Maccari internals. It was tuned for smoothness but still has a powerful mainspring. The spring guide and top hat are custom, and the compression tube was burnished with moly for slickness. The piston seal is a Wasp.

The stock is Tyrolean but with an important difference. It’s been thinned and canted to the left to align the shooter’s eye with the scope. Often, the deeply cupped cheekpiece pushes your head to the left, making acquisition of the sight a chore, but this one comes up almost like an upland shotgun. That and the flat buttpad will help when benching the rifle. This rifle was created specifically for offhand mini-sniping.

Maccari supplied the shaped, high-grade, curly maple stock that was then reduced in thickness, sanded and stained with nitric acid. Eight coats of Permalyn were applied, then sanded and waxed to give the luster you see here.

The butt was thinned to keep the shooter’s face aligned with the scope. It’s also canted to the left. The pistol grip has a palm swell.

The Beeman R8 has a two-piece, articulated cocking link that allows the cocking slot at the bottom of the forearm to be very short. That should make the firing cycle smoother.

The scope is also quite special. It’s a Burris Timberline 4.5-14×32 without AO but clear at max magnification at 21 feet. It is an exceptional optic, and I hope to have more to say about it as I test the rifle for accuracy.

Burris scope delivers remarkable performance in a small package.

Although I currently need to use two hands to cock a 124 (weakened from my hospital stay), I can cock this one with one hand — easily. We’ll look at velocity next.