Things we don’t think about

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Today’s post
  • Why nobody makes muzzleloading big bores
  • Where is the muzzle?
  • Scoped
  • How fast does it close?
  • Summary

Yesterday’s report on reloading elicited a better response than I had hoped. Many of you don’t reload and never will but you are still curious. There is a lot more coming!

I write reports on subjects like that to attract readers from other disciplines. This blog is highly ranked in Google searches and usually goes straight to the top of most lists of whatever topic I write about. Reader Kevin joined us years ago because I mentioned Roy Weatherby as “the high priest of high velocity” in a report. Kevin was searching for Weatherby online and hit that blog. Then he looked around and found the blog to be interesting. Today he is an airgunner first class and you see his comments here all the time. read more


Benjamin Fortitude PCP air rifle Gen2: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


Fortitude
The Generation II Benjamin Fortitude.

This report covers:

  • Fill to 3,000
  • Crosman Premier Heavys
  • Discussion 1
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • Where are we?
  • After lunch
  • Discussion 2
  • Noise
  • Trigger pull
  • More velocity testing to come
  • Summary

Watch out, spouses! The Great Enabler is about to strike!

Today’s report is so astonishing that if I hadn’t been there I probably would have my doubts. The velocity test took me two and one-half hours to complete! That’s because the .177 Benjamin Fortitude had so many shots on a single fill to 3,000 psi! Let’s get started.

Fill to 3,000

I filled the rifle to 3,000 psi as indicated on the gauge of my large carbon fiber tank. The gauge on the rifle also showed the pressure was 3,000 psi, and I know the gauge on my air tank is very accurate. I waited for 4 days after filling and the pressure still showed 3,000 psi on the rifle’s onboard gauge, so I know the rifle holds well. read more


Diana Bandit PCP air pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana Bandit
Diana Bandit precharged pneumatic air pistol.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

    • Filled to 200 bar
    • Not able to adjust the rear sight
    • The test
    • Superdomes first
    • UTG Micro Reflex dot sight
    • Take rear sight off
    • Hades pellets at 200 bar
    • 180-bar Hades target
    • 170-bar Hades target
    • Is the sight mounted tightly?
    • How is the gun rested?
    • Ah HA!
    • Oh, well
    • Final target — Meisterkugeln
    • Discussion
    • Summary

    Today we look at the accuracy of the Diana Bandit PCP air pistol, and I have to tell you that it’s just a first look. This gun took a LOT of work to get it to shoot!

    Filled to 200 bar

    I re-read Part 2 and saw that the .22-caliber Bandit that I’m testing, as it comes from the factory, only gets 7 or 8 good shots per fill. I also saw that a 200-bar fill is probably too high but I didn’t have much to go on, other than the customer comments that seem to agree. Many who gave the pistol a high rating say they had to back off on the fill pressure to get any accuracy.

    The small reservoir fills quickly so you have to be quick on the valve when filling. I learned how to do it so I could nail the fill within an indicated 5 bar every time.

    Not able to adjust the rear sight

    I started the test shooting at 10 meters with the open sights that come on the gun. The first shot landed way to the left of the bull so I added some right adjustment and the adjustment screw fell out! The rear sight notch is still to the left of center and there is no way I can get it close to where it needs to be. So the open sights are out. I’ll tell you what I did in a moment.

    The test

    I shot from 10 meters with the pistol rested on a sandbag. I shot 5-shot groups and refilled the pistol after each 5 shots except for the first target which was for sight-in.

    Superdomes first

    I shot RWS Superdomes first with the open sights. I will show the target but there is no group to show because I was trying to adjust the sights. I shot 9 shots on a 200-bar fill.

    Diana Bandit Superdome target
    There’s not much to see. I was all over the paper trying to sight the Bandit in with the open sights which proved impossible. The shots in the center of the bull were three of the final five that I shot. The two under the bull were the last two shots. These final five shots were shots 5 though 9 on the first fill.

    I later learned things that may have also pertained to Superdomes, but this was the first and only target I shot with them.

    UTG Micro Reflex dot sight

    Fortunately I had plans to mount the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight on the pistol before the test began, so I did at this time and then continued with the test. Pyramyd Air only carries the red dot version, but I have the green one that I can see a little better.

    Take rear sight off

    To fit the dot sight to the Bandit the rear sight needs to come off. Even though the Micro Reflex sight is very small you will have loading clearance problems unless the rear sight comes off. Then it’s fine.

    Hades pellets at 200 bar

    Several owners report good things about JSB pellets in their Bandits, so I switched to Hades pellets with the dot sight. I refilled the reservoir to 200 bar and shot another 8 shots. This time I thought I nailed it!

    Diana Bandit Hades target 1
    I numbered the shots as they were fired so you could see how they went. When I saw shots 4 though 8 I thought I understood what the Bandit wanted. The final 4 shots measure 0.31-inches between centers. This is one of the few times you will see the dime in this report. read more


What does the new year hold?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • What the new year holds
  • Big bores
  • High-tech projectiles
  • Price point PCPs (PPP)
  • Basic features of a PPP
  • Things that are good to have
  • Kiss of death for a PPP
  • Horsepower wars over?
  • Optics
  • Electronics in scopes
  • Scope mounts
  • Air compressors
  • Replica airguns
  • A dual-power spring-piston breakbarrel
  • M16 replica
  • M1 Garand replica
  • Summary
  • read more


    What about dry-firing?

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    This report covers:

    • History
    • Luger
    • Soviet SKS
    • One more common problem
    • Designed to be dry-fired
    • Airguns
    • BB — get real!
    • Sillyiess
    • And the others?
    • Under The Gun
    • An aside that is pertinent
    • Pneumatics and gas guns
    • BB’s rule of thumb
    • Summary

    Time for another basic report. We discuss dry-firing airguns a lot and things get out of control pretty quick, but I guess that’s the nature of the Internet. My wife, Edith, used to have a little saying about it. She said people would post:

    “I have an HW77 that I enjoy.”

    “Yes, Weihrauch airguns all nice, aren’t they?”

    “I shoot my Gamo Expomatic in the basement every day.”

    “I like ice cream!”

    I’ll come back to that, but today I thought I would dive into the subject of dry-firing a little deeper, since it’s one that seems to affect all of us to some extent. I think I’ll start with firearms.

    History

    I’m going to begin with guns that have firing pins, though the subject of dry-firing does go back much farther than that. Older guns are usually not made to endure much dry-firing, if any. Their metal parts are hardened to withstand a lot of use without wearing, but hardness does tend to make metal brittle. The better guns have firing pins made from tool steel that can be both hard and also resistant to breakage from impact, but gun makers didn’t always do that because dry-firing was considered a no-no a century ago.

    Luger

    The German Luger, for example, had parts that were heat-treated (hardened) and then tempered (treated with heat for ductility) to a medium straw yellow color. The maker wanted the firing pin to work without wear, and also to not deform the parts with which it interacted. But the metallurgy of Luger parts was less complex 100 years ago than it is today and it is not recommended that you dry-fire a German Luger — especially if it is one from history. It can be done if the gun needs to be uncocked, but you run the risk of breaking the pin and other parts in the firing mechanism.

    Legends P08 Erfurt Luger
    The Legends P08 pistol with blowback is shown beneath a 1914 Luger made at the Royal Arsenal at Erfurt. This century-old pistol should not be dry-fired.

    Soviet SKS

    The Soviet semiautomatic rifle we call the SKS is another example of a gun that should not be dry-fired — though not because of the metallurgy.

    SKS
    This Soviet SKS was manufactured at the Tula Arsenal in 1953.

    The reason you should not dry-fire an SKS is the tapered firing pin can get stuck inside the bolt in the fired position — protruding from the bolt. If that happens the gun can fire every cartridge it chambers. It’s essentially firing from the open bolt, which it is not timed correctly to do. It will shoot full auto until it runs out of cartridges and the action can blow up if a cartridge case lets go before it is fully chambered and the action is locked shut (that’s the timing). This is a common fault with the SKS and owners are cautioned to keep their bolts and firing pins clean and to not dry-fire their rifle. A firing pin return spring was installed in the earliest SKS bolts and can be retrofitted into guns without it to protect against this.

    One more common problem

    So, breaking parts and sticking parts are two of the most common reasons why dry-firing firearms is not recommended. And there is one more common reason. Many rimfires are designed so their firing pins will make contact with the edge of the chamber if there is no cartridge rim there to cushion them. This makes them fire more reliably. However, if guns like these are fired a lot with no cartridge in the chamber a groove or depression will form in the rim of the chamber and the gun will no longer fire reliably because there is nothing backing up the cartridge rim. Therefore the cartridge rim will not be crushed reliably to set off the priming compound and the guns either start to misfire a lot or they quit working altogether. It’s a real problem with older rimfires made before about 1960, and even some of the less expensive ones that are made today still have the problem. But many do not.

    I’ll use the Ruger 10/22 as an example of a rimfire that can be safely dry-fired. The Ruger website even has a video that says so. And so can the Ruger Mark pistols. Their firing pins are purposely designed to stop a tiny fraction of an inch away from the rim of the chamber. You readers who understand manufacturing know how difficult it is to maintain those kind of dimensions across multiple parts so it always works out right after assembly!

    I only use Ruger as an example. Many rimfires are designed this way today. But don’t take my word for it. Find out if YOUR rimfire is so-designed before you start dry-firing!

    Designed to be dry-fired

    Then there are the firearms that are purposely designed to be dry-fired. I’ll use a free pistol for my example. Because bullseye target shooters shoot many times more shots dry than with ammunition to train their eye-hand coordination, their guns have to be designed for it.

    Hammerli 100 right
    This Hammerli free pistol is a .22 rimfire pistol used in 50-meter bullseye competition.

    The Hammerli 100 was produced from the late 1940s until the middle 1950s, when the model 101 superseded it. It has a lever on the left side of the receiver that cocks the trigger but not the firing pin. It allows you to practice with the trigger all day long without ever chambering a live round or cocking the gun.

    Hammerli 100 dry-fire
    That lever cocks the trigger of the pistol. It works regardless of the action being cocked.

    Airguns

    Let’s now turn our attention to airguns. I will begin with the target guns that have dry-fire devices to allow practice for the same reasons as the free pistols just mentioned. The top 10-meter rifles and pistols all have them, but so do the informal airguns (mostly pistols) that are designed for informal target practice. Take the Beeman P1 for example. If you lift the top strap, but not far enough to cock the pistol, you set the trigger and you can dry-fire it in the same way as a more expensive target pistol. The trigger feels exactly the same as when the pistol is fully cocked, but no pellet is shot when the trigger falls.

    BB — get real!

    All of that is nice to know, but it doesn’t answer the question that is in your mind, does it? You want to know about spring-piston air rifles, don’t you?

    Silliness

    Remember what I told you at the start of this report about conversations on the Internet quickly getting silly? It happens here sometimes, too. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Gamo at one time advertised that their spring-piston air rifles could withstand 10,000 dry-fires without damage and they had even tested for it. Well, that statement morphed into Gamo testing all (as in each and every one) of their spring-piston air rifles by dry-firing them 10,000 times! No — they don’t. If you think about it, they really couldn’t. That would add so much cost to each gun (the time spent putting them all into the cocking/firing fixtures then waiting for them to be cocked and fired 10,000 times, not to mention the vast number of fixtures they would need for a 40,000-piece model run) that a $200 air rifle would have to cost $400 or more.

    Gamo doesn’t do that and they never did. But maybe the person who said that only meant that Gamo tests each type of gun (one test per model type — not each and every gun) with 10,000 dry-fires. They don’t do that any longer, either — or at least it’s no longer a part of their advertising campaign. Maybe they still test them that way — but they don’t talk about it as much. I said what I said in an historical context in my report titled, Does dry-firing damage airguns?. In that report a reader mentioned that Gamo addresses dry-firing in their frequently asked questions on their GamoUSA website. I went there to check and they no longer address it.

    So, Gamo isn’t telling customers they can dry-fire their spring-piston guns. Except that I did find in the manual for the Swarm Fusion 10X they said that one way to safely test whether the rifle has a pellet in the barrel after it has been cocked is to fire it in a safe direction. If there is no pellet that would constitute a dry-fire, so they are okay with that.

    And the others?

    What about the rest of the spring-piston airgun makers? Are their rifles and pistols proofed against damage from dry-fires? Yes and no. Yes because of the materials being used today and because of the changes in design that lend themselves to more reliable performance, and no — because in a lot of instances this hasn’t been deliberate. I will illustrate with a scope analogy.

    Under The Gun

    Spring airguns break scopes. We have known that for a long time. But in 1998, when Leapers learned that was the case, they set out to design airgun scopes that could not be broken that way! They even designed test fixtures to test scope designs over the long term. During the same timeframe they added the name Under The Gun (UTG) to their scope line. Hence today UTG scopes are pretty much bulletproof. They are designed with Smart Spherical Structure (SSS) — a scope body that’s inherently stronger than other bodies because it addresses the interaction between the inner and outer scope tubes.

    Now along come all the other scope manufacturers in the world — from the biggies like Leupold, Burris and Hawke to the little guys that make scopes for cheap. The biggies watch the scope market closely and, when some bozo named B.B. Pelletier starts waving his pom-poms, they purchase a couple of the UTG scopes he is raving about and examine them — CLOSELY. They discover that, indeed, there are some design features that are quite worthy and they find their own ways of emulating them. Next thing you know ten years have passed and all of the brand-name scopes are spring-rifle proof or, as in the case of Hawke, they know that certain ones in their lineup aren’t and they tell buyers up front. This migration doesn’t just happen through copying, either. Engineers change jobs and the word spreads.

    Last to change are the cheapies, but they do change, because at the same time the manufacturers were getting smarter — so were the buyers. Maybe a full two decades have to pass before there are no more scope problems with spring-gun recoil, but it does happen.

    An aside that is pertinent

    Back to dry-firing. When major airgun manufacturers like Feinwerkbau, Diana and Walther used piston seals that are made of a synthetic that dry-rotted over time, they all got a black eye when the ship hit the sand. Quick as a bunny and with ZERO fanfare they all switched their formulas for their synthetic piston seals! What else could they do — advertise that their airguns now come with piston seals that DON’T dry-rot?

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is why dry-firing should not hurt a spring gun today — but don’t do it regularly. Now — what about the other powerplants?

    Pneumatics and gas guns read more


    Diana Bandit PCP air pistol: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Diana Bandit
    Diana Bandit precharged pneumatic air pistol.

    This report covers:

    • Bandit
    • Customer reviews
    • The case
    • Description
    • Weight
    • Power
    • Sights
    • Magazine
    • Trigger
    • The point
    • Fill coupling
    • Discharge sound
    • Free-floated barrel
    • Summary

    Today we begin looking at the Diana Bandit precharged pneumatic (PCP) air pistol. It is the pistol equivalent to the Diana Stormrider rifle.

    Bandit

    The Diana Bandit is a repeating PCP pistol that comes in both .177 and .22 caliber. It has a circular spring-loaded magazine that holds 9 pellets in .177 and 7 in .22. I selected a .22 for my test.

    Customer reviews

    I read some of the customer reviews of the gun before examining it. It seems to me there are two main camps that purchase a pistol like this. One camp buys it based in the price. It’s everything they want in a Benjamin Marauder PCP air pistol (they hope) for $190 less. The other camp buys the pistol to modify it into something they really want. First they have to fix all the things that Diana got wrong when they designed the airgun, like not putting in a regulator, then they move on to accurizing it with other barrels and exotic sights.

    This report isn’t going to satisfy either camp. I’m going to test the Bandit as it came to me and see how it performs as it stands, right out of the box.

    The case

    Speaking of the “box” in this case it’s a soft case with a foam insert. It’s perfect for carrying and storing the pistol.

    Diana Bandit case
    The Bandit comes in a fitted soft case.

    Description

    The Bandit is a large air pistol. It’s just over 20 inches long and the 9.5-inch barrel is almost half of that. The pistol is largely metal and wood, with just a few synthetic parts like the sights. Looking at it I would say the folks at Diana are listening to the market very closely.

    The grip is hardwood and I find it very ergonomic. I have read complaints that it is too large, but my hands are average and it fits them fine. Maybe even better than fine. It fits like a Luger that has been customized — or a Crosman Mark I/II pistol with custom grips. Maybe after accuracy testing I will have more to say about the grip but that will have to wait.

    The cocking bolt is located on the left side of the gun. That favors the right-handed shooter, though lefties will have no trouble using it unless they mount a scope that gets in their way. The bolt handle has three rubber o-rings that provide a better grip for your hand. The handle is long enough to get a good grip and I find that the bolt cocks smoothly. There is an increase in pressure required at the back of the cocking stroke, but if you pull the bolt back sharply you won’t notice it.

    Weight

    As large as the pistol appears, it weighs just 2.2 lbs. That’s the way of precharged airguns. They are largely air! And with all that barrel and reservoir tube out front you might think it is muzzle-heavy, but it’s not. The grips grab your hand so tight that I think they absorb the forward weight.

    Power

    One thing several of the reviews mention is how powerful the pistol is. The .22 I chose is supposed to launch pellets at 630 f.p.s., according to the manual. And once more I have to give Diana credit, because the manual explains that velocity was achieved with different lead pellets! I would think it would be with something lightweight, like a Hobby, but we shall see in Part 2. Many owners are praising the Bandit for its accuracy. Diana claims 11.8 foot-pounds (16 joules) for the .22 version, so we shall see.

    In .177 the manual says to expect 725 f.p.s. with the same caveats. And the power would be 9.6 foot-pounds (13 joules).

    Sights

    Most owners will probably scope their pistols or at least mount a dot sight. The top of the receiver is flat (yea!) and has 11mm dovetails behind and in front of the loading trough. If you shoot with the magazine you will probably have to use two-piece scope mounts and the rear sight will have to be removed.

    The open sights are a squared-off post in front and a square notch in the rear. The rear sight is adjustable in both directions. THERE ARE NO FIBEROPTICS ANYWHERE! Once again, I think Diana is listening!

    My plan is to shoot the pistol with the open sights at 10 meters. Then I will install a UTG Micro Reflex dot sight and sight that in at 10 meters. That sight has become my go-to dot sight for airguns. If the accuracy warrants it, I will do a second accuracy test with the pistol and dot sight at 25 yards. And if the pistol is REALLY accurate I may even scope it.

    Magazine

    The circular magazine installs from the left side of the receiver. It is held in place by a small rare-earth magnet. To load it into the receiver you must first remove the single-shot pellet tray (Diana calls it the loading base in the manual). Thank you, Diana, for providing that tray with the pistol. Pull the bolt back and cock the gun to remove the tray. Then insert the magazine in its place. Once the magazine is in the receiver, slide the bolt forward to load the first pellet. It is possible to work the bolt again and load a second pellet, so pay attention to what you are doing.

    Trigger

    The Bandit trigger is two-stage and adjustable. The adjustment controls the amount of sear engagement, so care must be taken to not get it so light that it becomes unsafe. The description calls it the Diana Improved Trigger.

    The safety is completely manual. Once more Diana is to be commended! It’s a crossbolt safety that’s located in the trigger blade.

    Fill

    The pistol is filled to 200 bar. That is 2900 psi. Not 3,000 — 2,900. I had an urgent email last week from a person who doesn’t reads the blog, and he has a .45-caliber AirForce Texan that he told me wasn’t working. He said he filled it to 3,000 psi on the tank’s gauge and the bullets just pooped out. I told him his onboard gauge wasn’t reading correctly and to just reduce the fill pressure to 2,700 psi and shoot it through a couple 2 by 4s, which he did. He was happy about that but then complained to me that an air gauge that doesn’t read correctly is like having a car oil gauge that’s off.

    First of all — no, it isn’t. The oil pressure gauge on a car (that has one) is a more expensive unit, and is coupled to a pressure sensor in the engine that sends information to the gauge. That’s assuming we aren’t talking about some hinky unit that has a live oil feed going up to the gauge!

    Secondly — do cars even HAVE oil pressure gauges anymore? The little air gauges that are on PCPs are notoriously off in pressure, sometimes by hundreds of pounds. He had one that was way off. But the thing is — just learn where your gun wants to stop and stop there. Don’t worry about what the number is. Use those little gauges as “ballpark” guesses until you have more information about them.

    The point

    The point is — use the larger air pressure gauge on your fill device — be it a tank or a compressor. It is more likely to read accurately or at least be closer to it. If it doesn’t you will soon get a feel for how much it’s off and in which direction. It’s like knowing how to shut your kitchen cabinet whose door doesn’t quite line up as it should.

    Fill coupling

    Diana provides a probe-type fill coupling that has a male Foster filling on the ether end. That’s another gold star for them! However, the air probe fill hole is missing some kind of cover or plug to keep out the dirt when the probe isn’t in there.

    Discharge sound

    I haven’t shot the pistol that much, but so far I think it is quiet! Maybe not whisper quiet, but perhaps quiet enough for a large back yard. I’ll know more after the velocity test. I looked down the moderator and can see several baffles, so there is real technology in the can.

    Free-floated barrel

    You can’t please all of the people all of the time. The Bandit has a free-floated barrel that was all the rage about two years ago. Everybody wanted one. But now I read complaints that there is no barrel band. Go ahead, Diana. Put a barrel band on the pistol so they can tell you why it isn’t needed. I dare you! Why don’t I just shoot the pistol for accuracy and let the targets decide for us?

    Summary

    The Bandit looks and sounds like a very good value. I am hoping the accuracy is where folks say, because if it is, this is one to consider!


    Onyx Tactical Crossbow: Part 1

    nyby Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Sen-X Crossbow
    Onyx Tactical Crossbow.

    This report covers:

    • Crossbow
    • The Onyx
    • Physical specifications and description
    • Who needs it?
    • So — who needs it?
    • Why you need it
    • Opening the box
    • Manual
    • The power source — for cocking
    • Why CO2?
    • Air source safety
    • The button
    • Final point
    • Summary

    Today will be a completely different blog! This time old BB is the student. This is about a crossbow, which I do know a little about, but this crossbow operates differently than any other.

    Crossbow

    The Onyx Tactical Crossbow is a crossbow like all other premium crossbows, except for one thing. You cock this bow with the push of a button! Yes, this 225-pound draw-weight crossbow that is fully capable of taking big game is cocked with the push of a button. Let’s think about that for a moment.

    Crossbows are to archers what rifles are to spear-throwers. They remove most of the skill required for the job and deliver powerful shots that are also accurate out to ranges that even experienced archers cannot achieve. It’s been that way for centuries, and for all of that time the longbow archers have insisted that crossbows are not true bows. I have to agree with them. A longbow is one thing — even when it has modern technology like sights and cams to reduce draw weight — things that weren’t around when this controversy started.

    Crossbows are something different. They are more powerful than longbows and, if handled improperly, they can be more dangerous than longbows, though you have to handle both with caution.

    The reason people lump them together is they both have bow in the name and they both shoot arrows — though technically the “arrow” fired by a crossbow is called a quarrel or bolt. Longbow arrows were also once called bolts, but the term arrow has taken a firm root with them. I’m not going to get into the history of the crossbow in this report (though that might be a fun one to do, sometime), but you do need to acknowledge their differences, because some of the crossbow operational quirks can maim and even kill you!

    The Onyx

    The Onyx is a conventional crossbow, except for the pushbutton cocking feature. It has a 225 lb. draw weight and can be cocked manually. To do that you either need to be Superman or to use an aftermarket cocking aid. For this bow I think a cocking windlass is required. Some are made to fit specific crossbows, while others are more universal and will fit a wide range of models.

    cocking windlass
    This is a universal cocking aid/windlass. It attaches to the butt of the crossbow and slowly pulls the bowstring back to the point that it is caught and held by the trigger mechanism (technically a part called the nut). I have no idea if this one fits the Onyx — I simply show it for information.

    The Onyx cocks differently. You don’t draw the bowstring back to cock the bow. That was done before this point — the bowstring is already held back. The bowstring is not under much tension when the string is held back — unlike any other crossbow!

    What the pneumatic mechanism on the Onyx does is push the bow’s limbs (the two springy arms on either side of the bow) forward to put tension on the bowstring! I remember at the Pyramyd Air Cup this year I became quite excited when a Pyramyd Air technician showing the bow to me put his hand in front of the arrow! It looked to me like the bow was cocked, but as I have just explained — it wasn’t.

    Physical specifications and description

    The online specs say the Onyx weighs 11 lbs. Without an air tank the test bow weighs 10 lbs. on my balance beam scale, so I think the specs are with the air tank attached. That means the Onyx is heavy for a crossbow.

    The bow is 28.5 inches long and just under 11 inches wide when the limbs are collapsed. When the limbs are extended the width is about 34-inches.

    The overall color is black, Most of the bow is aluminum and steel; the limbs are some sort of high-tech synthetic and the forearm grip, the pistol grip and the buttstock are synthetic.

    The buttstock is an AR type that is adjustable to six positions of length. The pull length varies between 13-3/4-inches and 17-3/4-inches.

    The pistol grip is also an AR A2 style. I have no idea whether it will interchange with actual AR grips, but economies of design would dictate that it should. It certainly looks like it would from the outside.

    The forearm grip is designed to keep your off hand away from the flight deck and the bowstring. This feature is seen on many crossbows today, because that string can remove digits when the bow fires!

    Who needs it?

    You are probably asking right now who needs a $1,550 pushbutton crossbow? A good hunting crossbow can be purchased for $250-300. A premium hunting crossbow will cost $1,000 to $2,500. My Sub-1 from Mission Archery now sells for about $1,400, without a sight. I reported on that back in 2018. The Onyx is based on a premium crossbow, but the pneumatic technology they added to give it one-button cocking does increase the cost.

    So — who needs it?

    Let’s make a list.

    • Hunters with physical limitations (handicapped)
    • Hunters who cannot cock a crossbow
    • You

    Wait a minute, BB. I’m young(ish). I’m strong. I don’t need no pushbutton crossbow!

    Why you need it

    Okay, imagine you are sitting in a tree stand waiting for that prize whitetail buck to come along. Suddenly you see him working his way through the treeline. You count at least 10 points on his antlers at this distance. This is the one you want. He is 90 yards away and walking toward you like an infantry scout on patrol, looking for boobytraps. Now tell me — did you climb up into that high seat this morning with your crossbow already cocked and loaded? And did you sit there with the bow cocked for 2-1/2-hours? Of course not. Your mom didn’t raise no fools!

    Well, then, are you going to cock your crossbow now? Sure, you say. I just have to wait to turn the crank slowly and then detach the crank mechanism, load an arrow and get ready to shoot when the deer isn’t looking. Good luck with that! His eyes and ears are sharper than yours and he has lived by his wits all his life. If you had a firearm would you have waited until now to load it?

    Or — you could just push the button on the Onyx and be ready silently in a second, because the arrow is already loaded.

    Now you understand! This crossbow isn’t for hunting in your daydreams on the couch! This crossbow is for hunting in the real world! Sure it’s heavy, but how bad is that when you are sitting in a blind?

    Opening the box

    I first looked at the bow in the box it came in and carefully considered everything inside. Had this been a pellet rifle I would have had it out and shot by this time. But the Onyx is something I know very little about.

    Sen-X Crossbow box
    The Onyx crossbow collapses to less than 11-inches wide for transport.

    Sen-X Crossbow pins
    As the bow comes to you, the quick-release pins that allow the limbs to fold are held in place by a rubber band that also holds the loose bowstring. This picture is as much for me as for you, so I remember to do this after testing the bow. Because I’m keeping that rubber band! read more