Why “they” can’t do what “they” ought to

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • NightStalker
  • Velocity?
  • Why did “they” drop it?
  • They built it before
  • What about the Crosman 600?
  • Would a new Crosman 600 sell today?
  • Summary

Today started out as one thing and quickly transitioned into another. I wanted to write a Part 5 to the Daisy 35 report. It was time for a test with BBs. But last week I shipped all the airguns I’ve tested for the past several years back to Pyramyd Air and unfortunately the Daisy 35 was among them. I’m sorry, but it was a busy week and that one slipped past me.

So then I wanted to run the test of bedding the IZH MP532. I shot a “before” group using my old glasses, but then I discovered that the bedding that needs to be corrected is not as straightforward as it seemed. I want to do that work under the watchful eye of my neighbor, Denny. We conferred this morning but the work will have to be done later.

NightStalker

While searching for the Daisy 35 my eyes fell on a Crosman NightStalker that is standing in the corner of my closet.

NightStalker
Crosman NightStalker.

The NightStalker is a 12-shot semiautomatic carbine-sized pellet rifle that uses an 88-gram AirSource CO2 cartridge. It was launched in November of 2005 and lasted through 2007, so not that long. The cartridge fits in the butt and gives the all-synthetic gun some weight. 

Velocity?

I don’t have velocity numbers for you but I think it would be in the same range as the Crosman 1077, which is to say somewhere in the mid 500s with 7.9-grain Premier domes.

NightStalker butt
An 88-gram CO2 cartridge fits inside the butt and gives over 300 shots at maybe something in the mid 500 f.p.s. range.

The gun has real blowback that does cock the hammer on every shot, but Crosman elected not to allow the clip to advance to the next chamber. So, unlike the Crosman 600 that has an incredibly light trigger pull, the pull on the NightStalker is heavier and the blade moves through some distance as the clip rotates. The trigger breaks at about 7 pounds on my gun.

But this is a 12-shot semiautomatic! And surely something could be done to lighten the trigger by half. At least that would be my vote.

NightStalker clip
The NighStalker used this 12-shot circular clip.

NightStalker clip installed
The NightStalker clip slips into the receiver and then the trigger advances it one chamber at a time.

Immediately I thought of contacting Ed Schultz to tell him that Crosman ought to bring back the NightStalker. Well, they may (and I am not saying that I know they will) but, and this is a really big but, if they were to bring it back it would be like creating an all new airgun.

Why did “they” drop it?

Why does any company stop production of anything? Well, the answer isn’t always as simple and straightforward as you might think. You might think that the sales were not high enough, and that might be the case, but not high enough for what? What if Crosman placed the NightStalker under the management of someone responsible for sales of guns to large discount stores — maybe the same person who was also responsible for the 760? Well, the 760 probably sold for $29 at that time and the NightStalker was priced at $200. You can’t sell as many airguns for $200 as you can for $29, and the manager would have noticed that right away.

Also the NightStalker is a semiautomatic, where the 760 is a multi-pump, so the level of complexity for the semiauto is much higher than for the single shot. It’s so much higher that, regardless of the price, it may be too complex for a typical discount store buyer.

I am not saying this is what happened and that it was the reason Crosman dropped the NightStalker. Maybe someone who was the NightStalker’s champion left the company and his replacement didn’t care for it. Or perhaps some of the folks who were old-timers in the company wanted it gone.

It could have been any of those reasons or others we don’t know about. Whatever the reason, the NightStalker was dropped from the line just two years after it was launched. But Crosman built the gun. Surely they could do it again if they wanted to?

They built it before

Why wouldn’t it be easy for Crosman to build the NightStalker today? They were still making it as recently as 2007. Why couldn’t they just build it again? Well, let’s see — why can’t Ford build the Model A again? Not that they would want to, but Ford is in no position to build the Model A in 2021. They don’t have the tooling, the metal or any of the parts they need. Maybe if they wanted to they could fabricate a good copy, but it would just be a one-off. They couldn’t produce Model As, even if they wanted to.

I chose the Model A to illustrate the difficulty of the problem. It’s so old and obsolete that it’s easy to see why it couldn’t be manufactured today. If I chose a car that was closer to a model of today people might think it would be easier for Ford, and in some respects it would be. Materials for a near-term obsolete car would be easier to come by than the metal for a Model A. But the tooling and machine settings would have to be redone from scratch, just like they were back in the day.

What about the Crosman 600?

Why am I going on about the NightStalker? I am because it was a real semiautomatic pellet gun — just like the older Crosman 600 that many airgunners love.

Crosman 600
Crosman 600.

The Crosman 600 is a .22-caliber 10-shot semiautomatic air pistol that feeds from a linear magazine located on the left side of the receiver. Because of how it fed it was a little pellet picky, but it still functioned with a lot of domed pellets and even some wadcutters. The trigger was superb, releasing at less than one pound with reasonable crispness.

The 600 is such a good pellet pistol that they sell for high prices today. Anyone who has shot one wants to own one. But could Crosman make a 600 today? They could if they were willing to reverse engineer it and start from scratch, but it is not a matter of dusting off the blueprints. It would be a ground-up design. And the generations of machines used to make airguns have changed twice in the time since the 600 left the range.

Would a new Crosman 600 sell today?

Forget the 1965 price tag. How about somewhere around $250 today? The same guys who complained about them when they were $19.95 (and I was one who did) would complain about them today.

And what about that light trigger? It certainly isn’t going to pass legal muster today. So, as much as I would like to see the Crosman 600 come back, I don’t expect to ever see one new again. The model name might be recycled, but the design — never.

Even the NightStalker would challenge Crosman today, though it would be less of a problem than the 600. Some of the machines that made a NightStalker have gone away, too, and remaking it would present a new set of challenges. So I won’t be calling Ed Schultz with a, “What you outta do.” message anytime soon.

But a true semiautomatic airgun that is accurate and has a good trigger would sell, if the price was reasonable. Crosman calls the 1077 a semiauto, but shooters know different. My advice to the company would be to do it right if you plan to do it at all. Give us true semiauto feeding, a good trigger and accuracy. Don’t let the lawyers talk you into compromising in any of those three areas. The price can be a place to fudge if you have to, but give us the rest of it or forget the whole deal.

One last note. It appears that Sig is about to end production of the ASP20 rifle, if they haven’t already. Six months after that they wouldn’t be able to restart the line without a significant investment of time and money. So love ’em while they last. And with some companies like Weihrauch and AirForce, that can be a very long time.

Summary

We sometimes think that if a company manufactures airguns they can make anything. But AirForce can’t make a 1077 without breaking their manufacturing model, and Crosman would turn themselves inside-out to produce a TalonSS. The iconic airguns of the past are just as hard for the companies to make as they are for other companies who don’t compete in the same market.

Why do I tell you all of this? Well, I’m really telling myself, because when I saw that NightStalker in my closet I was about to call Ed.


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 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • Sight-in
  • Trigger
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • Shooting the SAM is fun!
  • Air Arms 16-grain domes
  • Premiers again
  • Beeman Kodiaks
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the new Benjamin Marauder Semi-Auto (SAM) PCP air rifle. I’m sure GunFun1 will have lots to say about his SAM, too.

Setup

The SAM needs a scope so I looked around and found one that’s pretty much ideal. It’s a UTG 4-16X44 SWAT. Because it has an illuminated glass-etched reticle I was able to illumine just the crosshairs in the center and, because it’s a UTG, I didn’t have to settle for just green or red. I picked blue, so I can see it.

The scope was already mounted in 2-piece rings and since they are Weaver on the bottom I didn’t have to move them at all. That is one of the beauties of air rifles like the SAM that use the Mil Std 1913 Picatinney rail system. The slots on all guns are the same width apart, so a scope can hop from gun to gun without loosening the ring caps. The rear ring was also shimmed under the scope, so I had no worries about a drooping rifle when it came time to sight in.

I also raised the adjustable cheekpiece so my sighting eye was aligned with the scope. That adjustment works quite easily with a 2.5mm Allen wrench.

Sight-in

What’s the first pellet I will try in a Benjamin rifle? Why, a Crosman Premier, of course

I sighted-in at 12 feet, like I always do when a scope is mounted. The pellet hit below the aim point, which it should at 12 feet. It should strike as far below the aim point as the center of the bore is below the center of the scope sight line. At 12 feet the pellet hasn’t had time to rise up to the line of sight.

I saved the sight-in target so I could show you what I’m talking about. The first pellet hit about 1.5 inches below the aim point. Then I backed up to 25 yards without adjusting the scope and the SAM put the remaining nine pellets into a 0.585-inch group at 25 yards.

SAM sight-in
The first pellet from 12 feet struck below the target paper. The other nine hit higher and to the left of center. Nine shots are in 0.585-inches at 25 yards.

Following this sight-in group I adjusted the windage to the right five clicks.

Trigger

I will admit that the rifle fired before I was ready the first few times. However, because I knew to expect it, I was careful to hold the crosshair on the target all the time while squeezing the trigger. Eventually I got used to where the trigger broke and it wasn’t a surprise any longer.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS

I will come back to the Premier pellet for a second try, but the next pellet I tested was the JSB Exact Jumbo RS. This group moved a little to the right of center and all 10 pellets are in 0.521-inches at 25 yards.

SAM RS group
Here is the first 10-shot group. The SAM put 10 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.521-inches at 25 yards. The smaller group below the main one holds three shots.

Shooting the SAM is fun!

I have to tell you there is a real urge to just pull that trigger as fast as I can! The SAM shoots as reliably as a Ruger 10-22 firearm. I bet GunFun1 has a lot to say about that! I wonder how the SAM would do in a Pyramyd Air Gunslynger match? Gunslynger is even a better name for this rifle.

Air Arms 16-grain domes

Now for the real surprise. And, by surprise I mean the real shocker! The 16-grain dome from Air Arms is often the most accurate pellet in a PCP. Well, not in this SAM, it isn’t! Talk about a pattern instead of a group! Ten pellets went into 1.159-inches at 25 yards. Maybe they were hitting a baffle in the shroud? I looked but couldn’t see any place that had been hit. It was the biggest group in the test.

SAM Air Arms group
Wow! The SAM I’m testing does not like Air Arms 16-grain domes! Ten went into 1.159-inches at 25 yards.

Premiers again

I felt I had to test Crosman Premiers a second time, now that I was on target at 25 yards. This time 10 shots went into 0.454-inches at 25 yards. The Premier is definitely a pellet the SAM likes.

SAM Premier group
The SAM put 10 Crosman Premiers into a 0.454-inch group at 25 yards.

Beeman Kodiaks

The last pellet I tried was the Beeman Kodiak that is no longer available, but is identical to the H&N Baracuda. Beeman never gave the head size of their pellets, but H&N does, so you have a choice. This is a much heavier pellet, so they dropped lower than the others I have tested. That’s another reason I left the target taped to the cardboard backer for the pictures.

Ten Kodiaks went into a 0.95-inch group. This is where a choice of head sizes would make for a more thorough test. Because, whatever these pellets are, the SAM doesn’t care for them.

SAM Kodiak group
The Beeman Kodiak pellets made a 0.95-inch group at 25 yards.

Discussion

First of all, the SAM fed all the rounds perfectly and without any hitch. Knowing that it is a semiautomatic is one reason why all the pellets tested were domes.

Next, the trigger does take some getting used to. But once you do it works just fine.

Finally, the SAM does seem a bit selective about the pellets that it likes. I wonder whether GunFun1 has noticed it? Just remember to always include Crosman Premiers, though, and you’ll have at least one pellet that works.

The UTG scope was a very good choice for the SAM. The lighted reticle made it easy to see the fine crosshair on the etched glass reticle.

Summary

Well, that’s the Benjamin SAM at 25 yards. It is a winner in all respects. It’s thrifty with air, very stable in velocity and today we learned that it is also accurate when the right pellets are selected. I guess the only thing left is to test it at 50 yards.


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.


SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Virtus AGE right
SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG right side.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Accuracy
  • HOWEVER
  • Romeo5 XDR red dot sight
  • Sig BBs|
  • 0.20-gram TSD Tactical White BBs
  • 0.20-gram TSD Tactical Black BBs|
  • 0.20-gram Marui Black BBs
  • 0.25-gram Stealth BBs
  • Rock and Roll
  • Discussion
  • Summary

I said in Part 2 that there was a lot to test with this SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft guns, and today I discovered I was understating the case. You’ll see why as we progress.

Accuracy

This is the beginning of the accuracy test and it’s good to remind ourselves what this airsoft gun is meant for. It’s meant for skirmishing, which means shooting people, not targets. However, the best way to get it on target and properly adjusted is still the old-fashioned way of shooting at paper.

HOWEVER

The However today is all the variables. I will be shooting many different BBs, adjusting the Hop Up and adjusting the Romeo5 dot sight — each of which makes the equation more complex. I did not think about that until I was well into the test.

My plan had been to try several 0.20-gram BBs, and then some heavier ones, since we learned in Part 2 that the Virtus can handle BBs up to 0.30-grams. But I didn’t take into account adjusting the gun and the sight for each BB. Were I to try to do that I could write about just this one airgun for the next month and still not finish. Perhaps you don’t care about the outcome but there are readers who want to know, so I owe it to them to do a thorough job.

Romeo5 XDR red dot sight

I mounted the Sig Romeo5 XDR red dot sight on the Virtus for the test. I must observe that both this sight and the Virtus airgun are precision-made and the installation of the sight took some time. All parts have to mesh, and when they do that sight is on tight!

I adjusted the intensity of the dot as low as it would go and still be visible. That gives the most precision. 

Sig BBs

I mentioned in the earlier parts of this report that Sig sent some 0.20-gram BBs with the gun, so I started the test with them. I first fired a single shot from 12 feet, and when the BB hit the target at 6 o’clock I backed up to 10 meters for the test. 

The Sig BBs were not feeding reliably. After loading the magazine each time it took several shots before they began to feed, so I loaded 16 BBs into the mag for the first target. That’s 4 pumps of the speedloader button. 

The first target has 8 shots on it. There were more BBs left in the gun but they wouldn’t fire out. The 8 BBs are in 2.415-inches at 10 meters. They are high on the target, and in line with the center.

Sig Virtus Sig BB 1
On the first target 8 Sig BBs went into 2.415-inches at 10 meters. 

I adjusted the Romeo5 dot sight five clicks down after seeing this first target. I also adjusted the Hop Up five clicks up. I didn’t know if that was the right way to go, but the next target would probably tell me. There were 4 BBs remaining in the Virtus that were not fired. I loaded another 16 Sig BBs into the magazine.

The second target has 9 shots in the target in 2.341-inches between centers. Once again I had to shoot several BBs to get the gun to fire then and the last 4 BBs would not fire from the gun. They fell out when the magazine was removed.

Sig Virtus Sig BB 2
The second target shot with Sig BBs has 9 shots in it. The group measures 2.341-inches between centers.

By adjusting both the Hop Up and the sight setting I confused myself as to what was happening. But that did not deter me from making the same mistake again. This time I adjusted the Romeo5 dot sight down 6 more clicks and the Hop Up up 6 more clicks. Hopefully something would change. I loaded 20 more BBs into the magazine.

The third target shows 9 BBs in 2.095-inches at 10 meters. The group is a little smaller than the others, so I’m thinking the Hop Up is where it needs to be for now. It also dawned on me that I could be here forever if I tried to adjust both the Hop Up and the sight for each BB. So I decided to leave both things as they were for now.

Sig Virtus Sig BB 3
This third target with Sig BBs shows 9 in 2.095-inches at 10 meters.

Once again there were four BBs remaining inside the gun after the gun stopped shooting BBs out. They were outside the magazine but loose in the gun’s receiver. I had intended for each of these three targets to be 10-shot groups, but this BB feeding problem prevented that.

Sig Virtus BBs
After every round of shots there were always 4 Sig BBs left in the gun.

0.20-gram TSD Tactical White BBs

Next I tried shooting 0.20-gram TSD Tactical White BBs. They aren’t called that on the bag they come in, but on the next target I will shoot 0.20-gram TSD Tactical Black BBs, and the color of the BB is the only difference between the two. The wording on both packages is identical. I loaded 20 of them into the magazine.

This time I got 10 shots in a row! Feeding was perfect. Hurrah! These ten went into 1.747-inches at 10 meters, making them considerably more accurate than the Sig BBs. They hit in almost the same place on the target as the Sig BBs. To keep things simple I did not touch either the Hop Up or the dot sight for the remainder of the test.

Sig Virtus TSD White BBs
Now this is a nicer group. Ten TSD 0.20-gram white BBs in 1.747-inches at 10 meters.

To dump the remainder of the BBs (I had loaded 20 BBs because of the previous experience) I fired them into the backstop on Rock and Roll, once the target was taken down. All BBs were expended from the magazine this time!

0.20-gram TSD Tactical Black BBs

Now I loaded some 0.20-gram TSD Tactical Black BBs into the mag. The Hop Up and sight settings remained the same. Ten BBs went into 2.106-inches at 10 meters. Once again, all BBs fed as they should and I dumped the rest Rock and Roll into the backstop after securing the target.

Sig Virtus TSD Black BBs
Ten 0.20-gram TSD Tactical Black BBs went into this 2.106-inch group at 10 meters.

Once again, all BBs fired from the gun without fail. But the White TSD BBs still grouped tighter.

0.20-gram Marui Black BBs

Next up were ten 0.20-gram Marui Black BBs. They made a 2.377-inch group in almost the same place as the other BBs. They also fed perfectly.

Sig Virtus Marui Black BBs
Ten Marui Black BBs made a 2.377-inch group at 10 meters.

0.25-gram Stealth BBs

I had only planned to shoot 0.20-gram BBs today, since there were so many to test. But I had loaded the magazine with 0.25-gram Stealth BBs before realizing what they were. Since they were already loaded, I shot a final target with 10 of them. As expected they landed a little lower on the target than the 0.20-gram BBs. Ten of them landed in a group that measures 2.175-inches between centers. That’s about as good as the worst of the 0.20-gram BBs. I could play with the Hop Up to try to improve the group, but for today I will leave things where they are.

I want to add that this was the only other BB besides the Sig BB that had feeding problems. Several times during the shooting BBs failed to come out of the gun.

0.25-gram Stealth BBs
Ten 0.25-gram Stealth BBs made a 2.175-inch group at 10 meters.

Rock and Roll

As a final test I took the best BB of the test, which was the TSD White BB — and shot 16 into the target on full auto from 10 meters. I fired two bursts, with the last one being the longest. The gun was rested for this target just like it was for all the others and all the BBs fired as they should.

This group is perhaps the most enlightening one of the day, because it represents what the Virtus can do when it’s used in the way it was designed. 16 BBs went into 2.743-inches at 10 meters.

Rock N Roll
Shooting 16 shots full-auto gives a group that measures 2.743-inches between centers.

Discussion

This Virtus is a serious select-fire AEG. I consider the accuracy we have seen so far to be very respectable. And the gun hasn’t been fully tuned or tested. 

Up next will be the heavier BBs that range from just above 0.20-grams up to 0.30-grams. If I find any more 0.20-gram BBs I will also test them as well.

Following that test, I will exchange the 120 mainspring for the lighter 110 spring and completely test the gun again — both for velocity and accuracy.

Summary

Sig’s AEG Virtus is a serious airsoft airgun. They should be proud to carry it in their ProForce line.


SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG airsoft gun: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Virtus AGE right
SigAir ProForce MCX Virtus AEG right side.

This report covers:

  • Spring piston
  • Battery basics
  • Avalon gearbox
  • Replacement M110 spring
  • This gun
  • Sights
  • Magazine
  • Velocity
  • Hop Up?
  • At what price?
  • Discussion
  • Summary

I did a search in the blog archives and could not find another report I had written about automatic electric airsoft guns (AEG). I have done some large articles about AEG in the past for Shotgun News and for my own newsletter. I even wrote two articles for Pyramyd Air about the basics of batteries for airsoft guns — one in 2008 and the other in 2009. Those articles are still good today — 10 and 11 years later.

Spring piston

An AEG is a spring-piston gun whose piston is retracted (cocked) and loosed by a mechanical gearbox that’s powered by a small high-torque electric motor. To power the motor a battery is contained somewhere inside the gun. There is a great animation of how an AEG works on Wiki.

Battery basics

Two things to know about AEG batteries — their milliampere-hour (mAh) rating and their voltage. The higher the milliamp-hours, the longer the battery lasts, which equates to the number of shots the gun gives on a charge. The higher the voltage, the faster the electric motor spins, which equates to rounds per second, because the principal reason for the existence of an AEG is to give full-auto capability.

The gun I am testing has a stick-type lithium polymer (lipo) battery that’s rated at 1100 mAh, which is on the low end, and 11.1Volts, which is quite high. That means a fast-firing gun that will need a recharge sooner than one that has a battery with a higher mAh rating.

Virtus AEG battery
The Virtus stick battery goes in the forearm. The yellow connector connects to the gun’s motor. The white connector is for the charger. The battery must be installed and removed again for every charge.

Stick-type batteries are designed to fit inside tight spaces within forearms. Sometimes there is enough room to stuff in an aftermarket battery with a higher mAh rating for longer operation. Sig says this 11.1V battery is the maximum allowable, but that refers to the volts, only. They don’t address the mAh. I will look into that for you. The thing you don’t want to do is use a battery with a significantly higher voltage, because the gearbox may not take the additional strain of faster operation. The thing is — this battery is already running close to the top in voltage, so you aren’t likely to do that. And then there is the gearbox.

Avalon gearbox

The MCX Virtus AEG has an Avalon gearbox with upgraded steel bearings. The gears are metal as well. I have built up airsoft gearboxes this way in the past, exchanging metal gears for plastic or Nylon, but this one comes to you ready to go.

Replacement M110 spring

The gun comes with an M120 mainspring installed and a replacement M110 spring to swap in if you like. The M110 spring will give a lower velocity (30 to 60 f.p.s. slower for a given weight BB) but put less strain on the motor and less drain on the battery. If you are doing a drill inside close quarters, the 110 spring is the one to have. It will give you longer operating time. If you are outside the M120 is the way to go. Sig has made swapping this spring very easy, and I will test the gun with both springs. I believe at this point that the M110 spring will allow the motor to run cooler longer in the full auto mode. We will see as we go.

This gun

All right, I’m going to stop the tech discussion right there. There is a lot more to tell you, but now I want to shift your attention to the gun I am testing. The MCX Virtus AEG is a close replica of Sig’s MCX Virtus SBR firearm — their short-barreled rifle version of the Virtus. The airsoft gun’s receiver is CNC-machined metal and has M-LOK-compatible slots for accessories in the metal handguard. The metal stock telescopes to three positions and locks solidly in all three. It removes quickly to change the mainspring for power changes.

The gun weighs 6 lbs. 9 oz with a battery and an empty magazine. The length runs from 25-3/4- to 29-inches overall.

This is a select-fire airsoft gun with an ambidextrous thumb switch for Safe, Semi and Full Auto. If you are used to the M16/M4/AR-15, the switch is exactly where you expect it to be and the selection works exactly the same way. 

Sights

The MCX Virtus comes without sights. On a gun like this they would be back-up iron sights (BUIS). I will mount a dot sight for testing and, since Sig sent me the Romeo5 XDR, that’s the one I will mount. The gun has a M1913 Picatinny rail that runs 16 inches along the top of the receiver and handguard to augment the M-LOK slots on both sides and the bottom of the forearm. Mounting optics and accessories should prove no problem. Before you go crazy, though, remember that this is a close-quarters battle gun. Sights, a laser and a light are about all you want. Yes, thermal imaging, a rangerfinder and a bipod are nice options, but not when you are clearing rooms!

Magazine

The gun has a 120-round magazine that fits into the receiver just like an AR mag would. The release is in the same place and works the same so, once again, those who are familiar with the Armalite platform will be at home with the MCX Virtus.

Virtus AEG mag speedloader
Virtus magazine above and speedloader below.

Sig gives you a speedloader to fill the mag. The gun is rated for 0.20-gram BBs, and, as I have with other guns, I will test it with different BBs and different weights.

Battery box

Like most stick batteries in full-auto AEGs, the battery on the Virtus lives inside the forearm. Unlike many AEGs, the Virtus forearm slides off easily with the removal of a single captive pin. I have fought M4 handguard keepers for days, trying to install and remove batteries! There seems to be plenty of room inside the forearm of this one for larger batteries, but I have asked Sig if a higher mAh rated battery is acceptable, since they do not want you to use one with higher voltage. I understand the operational difference between volts and amperage, but I still want to hear from them.

Velocity

As it comes Sig rates the gun at up to 370 f.p.s. That would be with the M120 spring installed and using a 0.20-gram BB. Naturally I will test that with a lot of ammo, and then install the M110 spring and test it, as well. It looks like I have a lot of testing ahead of me!

Hop Up?

An airsoft gun in this price range has to have Hop Up. This one is mounted on the steel bolt. Dial the toothed wheel up or down to adjust the backspin on the BB.

And this answers another question — does the dust cover really work? Yes, it does — just like the firearm. The forward assist, however, is just for show. It is spring-loaded but is cosmetic, only. I still remember tap, tap, pull, tap as the mnemonic for a jammed M16 — because in my day they always did.

Virtus AEG receiver
The dust cover is up. At the left you can see the spring-loaded forward assist.

Virtus AEG Hop-Up
Retract the bolt to see the Hop-Up adjustment (arrow).

At what price?

On the Sig website they have the MCX Virtus AEG in stock at the full retail of $459.99. All the dealers I checked with who list them minus the battery and charger for $399.99 were sold out. Hmmm — might there be an axiom there?

Discussion

This is not a kid’s toy AEG. This one is serious, and Sig intended it to be. It’s heavy, solid and cold to the touch. The rest of what it is will have to wait for the next report.

Summary

We are starting to test a real high-end AEG here. This test will be thorough and long, for there is a lot to look at!


Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

C96 BB pistol
Umarex Legends C96 BB pistol.

Today is a special test of the C96, requested by blog reader RidgeRunner and seconded by several others. You want to see if the pistol will be more accurate with Daisy’s Avanti Precision Ground Shot, which is made expressly for the Avanti Champion 499 BB gun. More accurate than what? More accurate than the best BB tested in Part 3, which turned out to be the Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs that shot the tightest groups with this pistol?

Velocity first
We know that the Daisy Premium Grade BB averaged 395 f.p.s. with a total velocity spread of 18 f.p.s. (from 386 f.p.s. to 404 f.p.s.). RidgeRunner suspected the Precision Ground Shot would be faster in this pistol because it’s usually slightly larger and also more uniform. So, I first shot it over the chronograph.

Avanti Precision Ground Shot averaged 381 f.p.s. on a fresh CO2 cartridge. The velocity spread was 19 f.p.s., with a low of 371 f.p.s and a high of 390 f.p.s. The spread was 1 f.p.s. larger with this shot than with the Daisy Premium Grade BBs, and the average velocity was 14 f.p.s. slower. So, that part of the theory didn’t test out.

On to the accuracy test
I offered to do a blind test, but RidgeRunner trusted me to try my hardest with each BB: and that’s good because there’s a definite difference in appearance between the Premium Grade BBs and the Precision Ground Shot. The latter are not as shiny and appear more silver than steel in color than the Premium Grade BBs. I would have known which BB I was shooting.

The distance was the same 5 meters that was used for the first test, and I used the back of a chair to steady my hands as I held the pistol, just like I did before. This resulted in a very stable hold for every shot.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs
I shot 2 groups of 10 with each BB. The first group of Daisy Premium Grade BBs measured 1.115 inches between centers. Two BBs landed outside the black bull. The second group measured 0.644 inches between centers. That’s almost half the size of the first group, so you can see how much latittude there is with BBs — even at 5 meters.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Daisy Premium BB first group
Ten Daisy Premium Grade BBs went into this 1.115-inch group at 5 meters.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Daisy Premium BB second group
These 10 Daisy Premium Grade BBs went into a tight 0.644-inch group at 5 meters. This is the second-best group in this series.

Avanti Precision Ground Shot
Now, it’s time to test the Avanti Precision Ground Shot. This shot is ground to work best in the 499 BB gun, only. But you readers wondered if it would also be more accurate in the C96 BB pistol. To test that theory, I shot another 2 groups of 10 shots each at the same 5 meters. The first group measured 0.954 inches between centers. One BB was outside the black, and 2 more were right on the edge.

The second group I shot with this ammunition measured 0.556 inches between centers. It’s the smallest group of this session and would seem to lend credence to the Precision Ground Shot being more accurate than the Daisy Premium Grade BBs. However, the difference in group sizes of the 2 different BBs is not so great as to be overwhelming. Yes, both groups with Precision Ground Shot are tighter than the corresponding 2 groups made with the Daisy Premium Grade BBs, but the differences are not large. I don’t think they justify shooting the Precision Ground Shot in the pistol since they cost roughly 2.5 times more.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Avanti Precision Ground Shot first group
These 10 Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot went into a 0.954-inch group at 5 meters.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Avanti Precision Ground Shot second group
These 10 Avanti Precision Ground Shot went into an ultra-tight 0.556-inch group at 5 meters. This is the best group in this series.

Conclusions
The Avanti shot went slower than the Daisy Premium Grade BBs and also varied more. However, the difference wasn’t much in either category.

The Avanti shot also appears to be slightly more accurate than the Daisy Premium Grade BBs. Again, the difference is very small, but it is there.

I’m surprised by these results. I predicted the Avanti shot would be faster because of its slightly larger size, but that it wouldn’t be any more accurate. So, I was wrong on both counts. I don’t think the difference between the two types of ammunition weighs in favor of using the Avanti shot in this gun, but it’s really a call the owner of the gun needs to make.

My thanks to RidgeRunner and others who asked for this test.