The Haenel 311 target rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Haenel 311
Haenel 311 target rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Air Arms Falcon|
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Alibi
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Qiang Yuan Training 
  • Gamo Match
  • Discussion
  • Summary

I’m doing this accuracy test because I discovered that in a test run many years ago I shot my best targets when holding the Haenel 311 target rifle with an artillery hold. In the last test I laid the rifle directly on the sandbag and I wondered how the artillery hold would affect the groups.

The test

I shot 5-shot groups with each pellet, but with one pellet I shot several groups for different reasons. I did try my hardest to shoot well. I shot from 10 meters.

Air Arms Falcon

First up was the Air Arms Falcon pellet — the only domed pellet in the test. In the last test with the rifle resting on the sandbag, the 311 put 5 Falcons into a 0.466-inch group. This time using the artillery hold the same Falcon pellet went into 0.571-inches. It’s close, but the bag rest seems better. read more


The Diana model 50 underlever: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 50
Diana model 50 underlever.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight in
  • RWS Superdomes
  • The trigger
  • RWS Supermags
  • Feel of firing|
  • RWS Hobbys
  • Why shoot only RWS pellets?
  • H&N Baracuda 4.50 mm head
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I shoot the Diana model 50 underlever with sporting sights from 25 yards. Let’s see what she’ll do!

The test

I shot indoors from 25 yards off a sandbag rest. I used the artillery hold with the rifle rested on my off hand, about 8-9 inches forward of the triggerguard. The Diana 50 is an underlever, and that steel cocking mechanism makes it heavy up front, so this is the most comfortable way to stabilize it. I shot 10-shot groups at 10-meter pistol targets

Sight in

Because I moved the rear sight forward for this test, I had to sight in the rifle again. The first shot was from 12 feet and impacted at the top of my front sight, so I called it good and backed up to 25 yards. I knew the shots would hit higher from back there, but since the first shot hit at 6 o’clock on the bull and this was a pistol target, I reckoned there was plenty of room. read more


The Diana model 50 underlever: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 50
Diana model 50 underlever.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Move the rear sight
  • Rear sight move forward
  • Change the sight notch
  • Rear sight adjustability
  • Not finished
  • Some disassembly required
  • Three stock screws
  • Wait a minute!
  • Glue the stock
  • Dry mainspring
  • Assembly
  • Velocity check
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Hobby
  • Cocking effort
  • Summary

To give you guys a break from the Crosman MAR177 today I started exploring the History of Airguns web page. Have you seen how the History of Airguns is laid out now? It’s now a simple timeline. Clicking on the dates brings up the past historical articles.

In checking to see whether they all made it to the timeline, I discovered this report from 2017, in which I mentioned wanting to shoot the rifle with an open rear sight. I never did that, so today is the day. I thought I’d just have to move the rear sight but you know how little projects sometimes expand? This one sure did! This will be the tale of what happened. read more


The Haenel 311 target rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Haenel 311
Haenel 311 target rifle.

History of airguns:

This report covers:

Not the Hurricane today
So what?
Haenel target rifles
The 312
The 311
Different way to oil the piston seal
Construction
Sights
Trigger
Summary

Not the Hurricane today

I was going to do a Part 2 velocity test with the Webley Hurricane today but this is Friday and I wanted to give you guys something to talk about over the weekend. Velocity tests of airguns I have tested before aren’t usually that exciting, so I looked for a different topic for today.

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but I have forgotten something. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true. I have forgotten that my Haenel 311 bolt-action target rifle from East Germany shot the smallest 5-shot group I ever shot at 10 meters. Let me show you. read more


BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSA Airsporter Stutzen
BSA Airsporter Stutzen was the final version of the Airsporter with a tap.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• Why I wanted to test the Airsporter
• Interesting adjustable sights — front and rear
• Accuracy at 10 meters
• Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Accuracy at 25 yards
• Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• Overall evaluation

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the BSA Airsporter Stutzen, and I’m going to shoot it at both 10 meters and 25 yards. I’ll be using only open sights because this rifle is such a classic that I feel a scope would spoil the look. I could also mount the Tech Force TF90 dot sight, but I have other plans for that one.

Why I wanted to test the Airsporter
If you’ve read this blog carefully, you know why the BSA Airsporter fascinates me so much. It’s the air rifle that spawned a number of very famous and very nice underlever such as the Falke models 80 and 90 and the Hakim that served as a training rifle for the Egyptian army in the 1950s. I have a real thing for Hakims, and you also know that I have done a lot with the Falke 90 that fell into my lap a few years back. In fact, I’ve written two separate reports on the Falke 90. In the first one, Vince fixed the rifle for me and my friend Mac tested it for me.

And the Hakim is an air rifle I cannot seem to ignore. I’ve owned more than 15 of them over the years, and the one I have now and am testing for you is a real beauty! In fact, there will be a Part 5 accuracy test for that rifle coming very soon.

Both these fine rifles had convinced me that I needed to get a BSA Airsporter. When this like-new Stutzen came along at a gun show last month, I snapped it up. I had experience in the 1990s with a Gamo Stutzen that wasn’t a smooth-shooting airgun, so that had me prepared not to like this one; but in Part 2, I discovered that this taploading rifle is nothing like the Gamo that has the rotary breech. This gun is very smooth, has a crisp trigger and shot faster than many people predicted.

But there was one drawback. Unlike the Falke 90 and especially the Hakims I’e shot, this Airsporter’s cocking linkage is pivoted farther back on the action. Even though the cocking effort is only 29 lbs., it feels more like 40. Also, unlike the Hakims, the tap on this Airsporter doesn’t open as the rifle is cocked.

Interesting adjustable sights — front and rear
I decided to begin at 10 meters. That way, I was more certain of being on paper with the open sights. The front sight blade seemed to be very tall — so tall, in fact, that it almost touched the hood that’s over it. That didn’t seem right; and when I began shooting, it proved not to be.

The rear sight does adjust for both windage and elevation, but the elevation adjustments are small. So, I looked at the front sight and thought the post might also adjust up and down. I removed the one slotted screw that holds the front ramp to the barrel and the entire assembly came off the rifle. It was then that my suspicions were confirmed. Indeed — the front sight on the Airsporter Stutzen does go up and down.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen front sight hood off
The front sight with the hood off. I’ve already lowered the blade here.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen front sight underside
This is the underside of the hollow aluminum front sight ramp. The sight blade is seen from underneath. read more


BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 2

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

BSA Airsporter Stutzen
BSA Airsporter Stutzen was the final version of the Airsporter with a tap.

Part 1

This report covers:

• Your interests
• Gamo: Yes or no?
• Get over it!
• Firing cycle
• Velocity with RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Webley Flying Scott High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
• Cocking effort
• Trigger-pull
• Evaluation so far

We all learned about the BSA Airsporter in the last report, and I got some important feedback from readers. Apparently, these rifles have been sold at airgun shows right under my nose without my knowledge. The one thing that’s certain is that I’m not the only one who knows how nice this rifle is. Several of you know it and are smart enough to stay under the radar as you pick up these air rifles at airgun shows. I hope to see some of these at the Ft. Worth Airgun Show in September.

Your interests
There were several things the blog readers commented on in the first report. Several of you said you liked the stutzen styling, which is why I mentioned that stutzens are not specific to any one manufacturer. A couple folks noticed how this rifle resembles the Diana 430 Stutzen, and I agree they do look similar. But they aren’t alike at all. The Diana rifle has an entirely different powerplant design and cocking linkage; and even though it resembles this one, it isn’t the same or even that close.

The Diana 430 Stutzen has a sliding compression chamber, like the TX200 Mark III. You load the pellet directly into the breech of the barrel of that rifle. This BSA Airsporter Stutzen has a loading tap that accepts the pellet. When the gun fires, the air blast blows the pellet from the tap into the breech, and that results in some power loss when compared to a rifle that takes the pellet directly into the breech.

Power output was another topic you discussed a lot. Some of you hoped this rifle would make 12 foot-pounds, but a few readers guessed that it’s more of an 8 to 9 foot-pound airgun. Today is velocity day so we will see exactly what this particular rifle will do.

Gamo: Yes or no?
Then there was some discussion on whether or not this rifle was made by BSA in England or by Gamo in Spain after Gamo bought BSA. Here’s the answer: This rifle was made by the BSA company in Birmingham, England, before the company was sold to Gamo.

I related that I had tested a Gamo Stutzen with a rotary breech many years ago and didn’t care for it, and that kicked off a round of discussions. Fred_BR, our Brazilian reader, said he has a .22-caliber Gamo Stutzen with rotary breech that he loves. He found it difficult to understand what my objections were.

Some of you were angry that Gamo owns BSA and continues to build and sell spring rifles under that name, which I guess is similar to the Chinese owning Beeman and making and selling air rifles under that name. I understand that sentiment. When Umarex purchased Hämmerli and started to sell airguns made in China under that name, it really set me off. I’d always been a fan of the hand-built Hämmerli free pistols that cost thousands of dollars, and it just didn’t seem right to use that prestigious name to sell something inexpensive and mass-produced. When Crosman came out with a spring rifle they called the Benjamin Super Steak a few years ago, I went nuts! As far as I was concerned, the name Streak belonged to a Sheridan airgun.

Get over it!
But we just have to let it go. Brand changes are a fact of life and will always be with us. If they weren’t, there would be no such thing as Redline Levis jeans and Cleveland 335 Ford engines. The most we enthusiasts can do is identify those models that have the features we want and pursue them over the rest of the items bearing similar names but different specifications.

Shot cycle
That being said, I was prepared not to like this rifle when I got it. I remembered the harsh firing cycle of the Gamo Stutzen .177 rifle I tested for The Airgun Letter and expected this one to be the same. But it isn’t. Where the Gamo was harsh, this BSA is smooth. The first shot told me this is a completely different air rifle from what I’d expected.

Velocity with RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tested was the lightweight RWS Hobby. Since this rifle is a taploader, you need pellets with wide skirts that are also thin so they can spread out and fill the tap chamber when the air blast hits them. A number of popular pellets I tested were 100 f.p.s. slower than expected because they were either too small for the tap or their skirts would not distort with the shot. But Hobbys are both larger in diameter and also have thin skirts. As far as pellet seating is concerned, it isn’t possible with a taploader. You just drop it in nose-first and you’re done. The pellet takes it from there.

Hobbys averaged 800 f.p.s. on the nose. The low was 795 f.p.s., and the high was 804 f.p.s., so the maximum spread was only 9 f.p.s. That’s an indication that the Hobby is a good pellet for this rifle. At the average velocity, Hobbys generate 9.95 foot-pounds at the muzzle, which is certainly on the high side of many of the guesstimates.

RWS Superpoint pellets
As I mentioned, I did try pellets from other makers, but they were all too slow –which indicates they aren’t sealing well in the tap. But I knew RWS Superpoints also have a thin skirt from my work with the Hakim, which is also a taploader, so I decided to give them a try. Superpoints weigh 8.2 grains in .177 caliber, so they aren’t the lightweights Hobbys are, but their thin skirts may compensate for that.

Superpoints averaged 766 f.p.s. in the Stutzen, with a low of 759 f.p.s. and a high of 770 f.p.s. The spread is only 11 f.p.s., which indicates this is also a good pellet for this rifle. The pellets that dropped 100 f.p.s. from what was expected also had large velocity spreads between individual shots, which shows how inconsistent they are in this rifle. At the average velocity, Superpoints generated 10.69 foot-pounds of muzzle energy — putting to rest the rumor that this is a weak spring-piston rifle. I believe the rifle I have is up to snuff and performing as well as can be expected.

Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets read more


BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 1

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

BSA Airsporter Stutzen
BSA Airsporter Stutzen was the final version of the Airsporter to have a tap.

This report covers:

• What’s a stutzen?
• My first encounter
• Parallel development
• Fast-forward to 2010
• BSA Airsporter
• Underlever spring-piston air rifle
• Open sights
• Overall evaluation

Today, I’ll start a report on an airgun that’s tantalized me for over 20 years. It has done so in multiple ways and has caused me to learn more about this hobby of ours: The BSA Airsporter Stutzen.

What’s a stutzen?
First, let’s discuss the name. A stutzen is a style of rifle, not a specific model made by just one manufacturer. There are stutzen air rifles and stutzen firearm rifles. So, what is it?

The German word stutzen means to crop, dock or prune, so a stutzen rifle is one that looks cropped. Fundamentally, it’s a slang term give to a rifle that’s mounted in a stock that goes all the way to the end of the muzzle. The rifle barrel may be full length, but it appears cropped because the forearm is just as long.

A stutzen is not necessarily a carbine, though it can be. The stutzen name doesn’t refer to the length of the barrel, but rather to where and how the stock ends in relation to the barrel. You see, Mannlicher stocks also go to the end of the muzzle. Does that mean that all rifles with Mannlicher stocks are stutzens? Yes, I suppose it does, but there are subtle differences. Classic Mannlicher stocks have distinctive steel nose caps that enclose the end of the barrel. However, in the past 30 years, people have blurred the distinction between a classic Mannlicher-style stock and a stutzen, and today the terms are used interchangeably.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen muzzle
The BSA Stutzen’s stock ends in a schnabel of dark wood. There’s no metal end cap that a true Mannlicher stock would have.

My first encounter
The first stutzen I tested was for The Airgun Letter. It happened in the 1990s, at a time when I was very much into spring-piston airguns. The rifle I tested was a Gamo Stutzen that was a less-expensive version of the BSA Stutzen that had either just been discontinued or was soon to be. At the time, both the Gamo and BSA rifles had rotary breeches. I’d never seen a BSA Stutzen, so the Gamo Stutzen I tested represented all stutzen air rifles to me. That was a shame because the Gamo rifle was hard to cock, harsh-firing and not very powerful. As I recall, it wasn’t that accurate.The hard cocking and harsh firing cooled me to the rifle. I was shooting and playing with TX200s in those days, and any spring rifle that I tested suffered by comparison.

Parallel development
At the same this was happening, I was also deep into Hakim air rifles. I’d already owned about 10 of them and tuned them for others as well as for myself. The Hakim is also an underlever spring rifle, just like the BSA and Gamo Stutzens, but it’s lower-powered, making it easier to cock; after a tune, it shoots quite smoothly. Why, I wondered, couldn’t these stutzens be more like the Hakims? They were actually a lot more like them than I knew!

Fast-forward to 2010
I was at the 2010 Roanoke Airgun Expo, only because my buddy Mac drove out to Texas from Maryland and drove me back East (and then back home to Texas, again). I still had a drain tube coming out of my pancreas from a failed operation five months before, and I was barely able to walk. Another friend at this airgun show, Marv Freund, insisted I buy a strange German underlever rifle from him that turned out to be the Falke model 90 I’ve written so much about. If you don’t remember our first look at the gun, perhaps you’ll remember that it had the stock that I’d restored and reported on in a second 4-part report.

During both those reports, I remarked how much the Falke 90 action resembled the Hakim action. On closer inspection and after more research, I discovered that both rifles had their heritage in the BSA Airsporter of 1948. The title of this report is the BSA Airsporter Stutzen. Is this starting to make sense?

BSA Airsporter
The BSA Airsporter is the underlever that started all of my fascination with these rifles, yet I’d never actually owned one. I’ve had bundles of Hakims and even the super-rare Falke 90, but somehow the BSA Airsporter eluded me all those years. Well, not entirely. I did actually own an Airsporter that was just a junk rifle I picked up at a local gun show. The stock was broken off at the triggerguard, and you could see the insides of the action. My thought was just to rescue it for airgunners, so I was happy to sell it to collector Larry Hannusch at Roanoke for what I’d paid. A year later, Larry had installed another stock on it, and I almost bought the rifle back from him before realizing it was the same gun. Other than that, I’ve never owned an Airsporter.

Then, several weeks ago, I was at another local gun show — in fact a show that was held at the very place that the 2014
Ft. Worth Airgun Show will be held. The guys out there know that I’m into airguns. When they have something, they sometimes bring it to me. At this show, there was a very familiar rifle laying on one of the tables. It looked like either a BSA or Gamo Stutzen, and it turned out to be a BSA. But this one was different from the one I’d tested back in the ’90s.

Instead of Gamo’s rotary breech, this one was a true taploader, which I knew made it older. It’s in like-new condition, and the seller knew that I was the only airgun guy in the room — or in the state, as far as he knew — so he offered it to me in a trade deal I couldn’t refuse. It was basically anything to get this airgun off his table because he doesn’t do airguns. By the way, if you do come to the Ft. Worth show this September, you’ll meet a bunch of members of this gun club who are very excited to sell all their old airguns. The club is giving them a communal table so they won’t have to pay to display and sell all their old airguns — and remember — they’ve been asking me for the past 2 years to have this show!

BSA Airsporter Stutzen tap
The loading tap is opened manually after cocking. Drop the pellet in nose-first.

Anyhow, I got this Stutzen in trade, even though I didn’t want it because of my experience with the Gamo years before. It’s so beautiful that I knew someone else would want it for sure. When I got it home and looked in the latest Blue Book of Airguns, though, imagine my surprise to discover that this isn’t just a stutzen. Its full title is BSA Airsporter Stutzen. That’s right — this is the Airsporter that I’ve been hunting for over the past 15+ years!

Underlever spring-piston air rifle
The Airsporter Stutzen is an underlever spring-piston rifle whose lever is concealed in the forearm. From the side, there isn’t a clue that the lever’s there. Despite what I said earlier about stutzens not necessarily being carbines, this one is — at just 39.25 inches long. The barrel makes up almost 14 inches of that length. The length of pull is 13.50 inches, which includes a one-inch black rubber buttpad at the back. So, this rifle is compact.

The stock is beech wood, but it’s from an earlier era and is far more attractive than the beech stocks of today. The taploading Airsporter Stutzen was made from 1985 to 1992, making it the final version of the Airsporter to have a tap. After that, the Gamo rotary breech was used on all BSA Stutzens. The wood is stained an even dark brown color, and the pistol grip is checkered. The forearm ends in a darker wood schnabel, which is German for beak or bill, and goes hand-in-hand with the stutzen style. The cheekpiece is nicely formed and stands apart from the butt, unlike the Gamo stocks that would follow. They all appear to have been melted, as their cheekpieces are blended into the butt with little transition. The comb has a classic Monte Carlo profile.

There are quick-detachable sling swivel studs on the stock, front and rear. But I must say that a sling on an underlever rifle can easily get in the way during cocking.

The metal parts are all an even dark black with a medium polish. It’s midway between a hunter matte and the deep shine of a TX200.

This rifle is .177 caliber; and although they were also made in .22 caliber, I suspect there are many more in this caliber, owing to the times and where they were made. The rifle is loaded through the tap, which must be manually opened after cocking. Don’t open it before cocking or the piston will create a partial vacuum when it withdraws. The tap is an extension of the air transfer port and must be aligned with the transfer port and bore (in its closed position) for air to flow though.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen lever down
This is how far down and back the lever comes.

The rifle weighs 8 lbs. on the nose. The 2-stage trigger is crisp right now, but I see one and possibly 2 screws that might allow some adjustment. There’s very little information about these guns on the internet, but I did read that an owner had tried to adjust his trigger with little result. Both screws are headless Allen screws, so they aren’t there to secure anything.

I’ve shot the rifle a few times and can tell you the trigger is crisp, and the firing cycle is smooth and quick. Cocking is a bit on the stiff side, but not as bad as I remember. I think the Gamo Stutzen’s cocking linkage was rougher than this one.

Open sights
There are open sights front and rear and not a fiberoptic tube to be seen! It’ll be fun to shoot. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, plus it sits at the front of an 11mm scope base. BSA scope bases on rifles of this time are the largest ever produced and actually approach 14mm wide, so care must be taken when choosing mounts. I don’t know if I will scope the rifle or not at this time — I just want to test it for you.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen rear sight
The rear sight is mounted on an inclined plane for elevation and a dovetail for sideways adjustment. read more