Diana 23: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 23
Diana 23.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • Sights are off
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • RWS Superpoints
  • H&N Match Green
  • Discussion
  • Summary
  • One last thing

Today we look at the accuracy of Diana 23. I sure hope she’s accurate!

It took me half an hour to set up the range indoors, so I wanted to make this count.

The test

I shot the rifle from a sandbag rest at 10 meters. I used the artillery hold and did not test anything else. I rested the rifle on my off hand that was back almost touching the triggerguard. The stock is a little short to allow me to treat it like other adult rifles, so my off hand placement was the best I could do. I shot differing numbers of pellets at each target so I’ll address that when we get to it. read more


John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Lil Duke and scope
John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • What happened?
  • I thought I knew better
  • HOWEVER
  • Is it really tight?
  • The scope
  • The test
  • Air Venturi Steel BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Avanti Match Grade Precision Ground Shot
  • Smart Shot
  • Old Dust Devils
  • Dust Devil Mark 2
  • What have we learned?
  • Summary

I tested the John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope in Part 4, but if you read that report you’ll see that the scope base was a little loose. Today’s report clears that up.

What happened?

Reader Chris USA asked me if I read the instructions that came with the scope base, Of course I read them. The better question to ask was when did I read them? I read them as I was editing my report and wondering why Pyramyd Air would let a scope base this flimsy go out. That was the reason for the Oh, fudge! title at the end.

I thought I knew better

You see, I tested a BB-gun scope base like this back in 2016. You may remember the Brice scope base for the Red Ryder BB gun. That was years before this base hit the market and I thought I knew everything there was to know about BB gun scope bases. read more


Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dust Devil
Dust Devil Mk2.

This report covers:

  • Dust Devil
  • The Mark 2
  • BB weight in grains
  • Smaller belly band
  • Production is up to speed
  • How can I test them?
  • 499
  • Legends MP40
  • Future BB gun tests
  • Impact tests
  • Bada Bang
  • Is that all?
  • Old Dust Devils
  • New Dust Devils
  • Daisy Premium Grade BBs
  • Summary

I have been waiting for this day for a long time. The new Air Venturi Dust Devil Mark 2 is finally here! And that begs the question — what makes it a Mark 2? In recent years we have become used to companies launching new but not fully developed products, in a rush to get them to market. Then they bring out the improved Mark 2 version the following year, after all the fatal flaws have been found and fixed. Hard goods are now being treated like software releases!

Dust Devil

Well, not so, the Dust Devil. It has worked as advertised from day one. It’s a steel BB made from steel dust, so it fragments back into into dust on contact with a hard surface. I have tested it in dozens of different BB guns over the several years it has been around. Which begs the question — why is there a Mark 2? read more


John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Lil Duke and scope
John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Thanks!
  • Stagecoach
  • Another thing
  • And finally
  • Back to our regular program
  • Dust Devils
  • Daisy Premium Grade BBs
  • Smart Shot
  • Cocking effort
  • It can be uncocked
  • Summary

Okay, today is the day we discover whether the Lil’ Duke can really shoot 350 f.p.s. or not.

Thanks!

Thanks to all the killjoy comments (RidgeRunner, Kenholmz, and Yogi) that said kids today don’t know who John Wayne is and essentially wouldn’t care to see him in a movie. The fact that you are right doesn’t lessen the pain! And thanks, Mike Ogden, for trying to stick up for the American Dream!

Stagecoach

And Michael, Wayne didn’t say, “Hodad” when he spin-cocked his rifle in the movie. He said, “Hold it!” to stop the stagecoach so he could board. I had never seen the movie Stagecoach, so that was my assignment last Friday evening! While it was good, especially for a 1939 movie, I didn’t think it was great. Wayne was a lot thinner in those days — but weren’t we all? read more


Air Venturi Tech Force M8: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Ari Venturi M8
Air Venturi M8 is very much like the Bronco.

This report covers:

  • Comparison
  • Stock
  • Powerplant
  • Double trigger blade
  • What is it?

Here is an alert to everyone who missed getting an Air Venturi Bronco. From what I see so far, just having taken the .177 caliber Air Venturi Tech Force M8 out of the box and shooting it a couple times, this rifle is as good as the Bronco. For some of you it is even better, as you will learn today.

Comparison

The M8 is practically identical to the Bronco. Both rifles are 40 inches long and weigh 6.5 lbs. The M8 stock has a slightly longer pull of 13 inches, to the Bronco’s 12-1/2 or 12-3/4 inches. Both rifles are said to cock with 18 lbs. of effort, which puts them into the comfortable range. The Bronco came with adjustable open sights, while the M8 has no sights. Both rifles have the 2-bladed 2-stage trigger that uses the first blade to take up stage one of the pull.

Stock

I like the Bronco’s western-style stock. I should, because I was the one who asked for it when the rifle was developed. I also like the original blonde finish of the Bronco stock. In a sea of nearly identical air rifles, the Bronco stood out as something a little different. And I like to think it was also something a little special

The stock is where some of you may like the M8 better. I have read plenty of complaints about the western-style stock from shooters who don’t like the straight wrist. The M8 stock is a more classic sporter stock with a straight line (the butt doesn’t drop much), a conventional pistol grip and a Monte Carlo comb. There is no cheekpiece, so the rifle is 100 percent ambidextrous. I haven’t found a serial number on the rifle I am testing, but that’s okay — I don’t think it will go back. I may buy this one if the principal difference between the 2 airguns bears out.

The M8 stock is conventional. It has a pistol grip with thin flat checkering on both sides. The forearm is also checkered with the same flat diamonds. They are for appearance only and do nothing to help you grip the stock. The wood on my test rifle is a very attractive beech that has some grain in the butt. There is also at least one knothole that has been filled with wood putty. The matte wood finish is very even and attractive in a medium brown. A red rubber buttpad keeps the rifle from slipping on your shoulder, or when you stand it on its butt.

Powerplant

The M8 is said by some to be more powerful than the Bronco. That is what I referred to as the principal difference between the 2 rifles. I know the description says they are about equal in power, but I have heard that the M8 is more powerful. Thankfully we have a good baseline on the Bronco from my testing, so we will know how thee 2 rifles compare after I test this one.

I measured the length and external diameter of the spring tubes of both rifles and they are identical. I believe the M8 is also built on the Mendoza R10 powerplant. So, this may actually be your last chance to buy what is in most ways except the name, a Bronco.

Double trigger blade

We never got an answer about the trigger blade when we asked. I am telling you now that the Tech Force M8 does have a double-bladed trigger the same as the Bronco. The first stage is taken up when the first blade is pulled back even with the second blade. There is an entirely different sensation to the trigger pull than you get with a single-bladed trigger, but after you get used to it, I think it is better. It is the equal of a glass-crisp 2 stage trigger with a single blade, because the shooter always knows when the rifle is about to fire.

Air Venturi M8 trigger
The M8’s trigger has the famous Mendoza double blade.

Like the Bronco, the safety comes on automatically when the rifle is cocked. There is a lever on both sidfes of the spring tube to take it off, so even this feature supports the left-handed shooter.

What is it?

This rifle is an all-day spring-piston air rifle. It cocks easily and fires smoothly. The trigger releases crisply. In other words, it’s everything those uber-magnum spring guns are not, which can be summed up in one statement — it’s fun to shoot. It seems to be everything the Bronco is, but in a slightly different package. And the price is right. If you wanted a Bronco but missed the boat, here is another boat that’s still at the dock.

When these are gone I don’t think they will be replaced, because Mendoza has raised their prices across the board. If you want one, the time to act  is right now.


Air Venturi Bronco with optional target sights: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

You know how your wife buys a new trash can for the kitchen, and it doesn’t match the front of the old refrigerator that you’ve been talking about replacing for several years? So, you buy a new fridge, but you want this one to have an ice dispenser in the door; so, you hire a plumber to run the water lines; as long as he’s there, you decide it’s time to replace the chipped sink with a new stainless-steel double sink; but as long as he’s under there, you might as well have him replace the water supply lines and the waste pipes. Then, your wife doesn’t like how the new sink looks against the old green Formica counters, and she wants those granite countertops you’ve been promising her ever since you forgot your 17th anniversary; but the new countertops won’t look right on the old painted cabinets, so you decide on some Scandinavian teak cabinets with glass doors; and now the chipped dishes look out of place. [Note from Edith: This is hypothetical. It’s not a true story about us!]

So, seven months later, the total bill for the new trash can comes to 70 thousand dollars? Well, that’s what I seem to have gotten into with the Air Venturi Bronco. I was just testing the new Bronco Target Sight kit on the rifle, and I raked back the compost pile a little too far. So, today, you’re going to benefit from my puttering gone amuck.

I took a lot of heat from you guys in my last report. You didn’t like how I did things, plus I introduced the new Air Venturi Pellet Pen and PellSet and called it maccaroni without any warning! Well, shame on me!

I began today’s test by mounting the Hawke 4.5-14x42AO Sidewinder Tactical scope on the rifle. The Bronco has a hole for a vertical scope stop pin, so I was able to anchor the two-piece mounts rock-solid.

I thought I would back up just a bit and see just what the best pellet is for this rifle, and then see if there’s a difference between seating that pellet flush and seating it deep. I started at 10 meters with five-shot groups, just to weed out the pellets that were not worth pursuing. They were all pretty good, but the lightweight Air Arms Falcon was just a bit better than the rest.

I realize that this is a test of a peep sight, but my last report raised some questions about the rifle’s accuracy that I felt needed to be laid to rest before the test was continued. I’m validating the rifle before I continue reporting on the new sight.

Then, I backed up to 25 yards and shot two 10-shot groups. One was with the pellets seated flush with the end of the breech, and the other was with the pellets seated deeper, using the PellSet. Let’s look at my results before I analyze them.


Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets seated flush with the end of the barrel went into this 25-yard group that measures 0.531 inches. The group is reasonably round.


Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets seated deep with a PellSet made this 0.821-inch group at 25 yards. Nine of the ten pellets went into a group measuring 0.564 inches.

Conclusions?
Looking at both the shape and size of these groups, I would be tempted to say the flush-seated pellets shot best. And there’s no doubt that this Bronco can shoot. But let’s not make up our minds just yet.

See that “flyer” in the deep-seated pellet group? It wasn’t a called flier. The hold and release were perfect. There is no reason that pellet should be that far away from the rest of the pellets at 25 yards.

What I’m not showing you are some other 10-meter groups with different pellets that also had strange fliers like this one. I had removed both the front and rear sights, so we can’t blame the front sight screws for being too long. But something is happening with this rifle that’s unusual.

Edith questioned me in the same way that I know the rest of you are going to question me. Didn’t I have good groups in the past? Why is this rifle suddenly shooting like this?

I went back and looked at the groups I shot in Part 3 of this report. If you do the same, you’ll see a couple “fliers” in those groups, as well. The difference is that those groups were shot at 10 meters instead of 25 yards.

So, then I went back to the 7-part report I did on the Bronco and examined those targets. In Part 5 of that report, I shot the rifle with a scope at 25 yards and guess what? There are “fliers” within some of the groups.

What’s happening?
I think the Bronco I’ve been testing is extremely accurate, but it has also been throwing fliers like this all along. I chalked them up to my poor shooting instead of something else. Now that I’ve examine the rifle under the microscope, I’m not so sure it was me. I think this rifle has been tipping pellets all along. It’s only when the gun is fired at 25 yards that this becomes evident.

I think this has gotten worse recently, but I cannot say with certainty what’s causing it. It’s clear from the two groups shown here that the rifle can really shoot, but I think it can do even better than it currently is.

I have a plan to try to remedy this situation; and, at the worst, it will not affect the accuracy of the rifle. But if I succeed, this rifle could shoot smaller groups than you see here.

I need to try my remedy before returning to finish the report on the peep sight kit, because I think it has been affecting the results. And there’s a second problem I’ve identified with the peep sights that has nothing to do with the sights, themselves, but with how I’ve been sighting the gun. I’ll describe that problem in detail for you and tell you how to easily avoid it.

Til then!


Air Venturi Bronco with optional target sights: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Today is the day you find how I improved the accuracy of the Air Venturi Bronco rifle I’m testing with the Bronco Target Sight kit. I asked you to guess what I did to get better groups, but only Fred of PRoNJ got it right. I thought this would be a straightforward test and that one range session was all I needed for this rifle. After all, I already did a 7-part report on the gun, so there’s been plenty of time to get to know how it shoots. In fact, I even installed a Williams peep sight on the gun, so I even know how it shoots with that. This was just supposed to be a test of the Bronco Target Sight kit and nothing more. But man plans, and God laughs!

Yesterday, I told you about the front sight screws and the barrel that obviously needed cleaning. Afterwards, I was not rewarded with those perfect groups I’d anticipated. The groups I got were better than before the rifle was cleaned, but they were still bad for an accurate rifle at 10 meters off a rest. Something else was needed.

The artillery hold
How many of you guessed that the secret to good shooting was the artillery hold? Guess again, because I saw no difference between resting the rifle on the flat of my palm and on the backs of my fingers.

One thing I did rediscover was the need to hold the Bronco absolutely “dead” in my hands rather than with any tension built in. For its power level, the Bronco seems to be on the twitchy side as far as hold sensitivity goes. So, before you shoot, it’s imperative that you relax all the way and allow the rifle to settle in wherever it wants to. Then, you have to shift your hands and body until it settles in with the sights very close to on-target.

But that wasn’t the secret I was looking for because the groups were still on the large side. Then, something cool happened. As you know, my friend, Mac, has been visiting us; and while he was here, I got a couple spring-piston air rifles to test before they come to market. I’ll be starting some reports at the end of this month, so I asked Mac to test the rifle while I worked on other things. It’s never difficult to get him to test a brand-new airgun!

One of the pellets he selected to test the rifles with was the venerable RWS Hobby, which is the lightest all-lead pellet around. Hobbys are often among the most accurate pellets for spring-piston airguns, and they did really well in these new rifles, so his choice seemed obvious. Since the Bronco is also a spring-piston gun, I wondered if Hobbys might do well in it.

Did Hobbys shoot better?
Yes, they really did. They gave groups that were in the ballpark for the rifle as it was now performing with the clean barrel, but they weren’t the groups I’d hoped for. But something drove me to continue to shoot them. I guess I was thinking about the pellet seasoning effect we talk about. As I was shooting, another thought popped into my head.

Two years ago I was testing a Hy-Score 801 — a Belgian-made breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle that has a pellet seater built into the gun. It sits above the breech and swings down to push the pellet deep into the breech. When I tested it, the seated pellets increased in velocity by 100 f.p.s. and also grouped closer. Could that same thing be true for the Bronco, I wondered?

Well, it didn’t take much to test the pellet-seating theory, because I’ve been testing the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and PellSet for some time. But this was the first time I had occasion to use the adjustable PellSet tool to push a pellet into the breech of an air rifle! Until now, I’ve always used a Bic pen, but this new tool is adjustable so I can control the depth to which each pellet is seated. And once the tool’s adjusted, every pellet gets seated to exactly the same depth. Consistency is paramount to accuracy, so that’s very important.

Success!
The moment I began seating the pellets deeply with the PellSet tool, the groups shrank to an acceptable size. It looked like a television infomercial, because the difference before and after was night and day. I shot another group but didn’t seat the pellets. I held the rifle as carefully as I had when the pellets were seated deep, just to eliminate any bias. I’m not saying there still isn’t some bias in my testing, but the results of seating the pellets looks very promising!


This PellSet tool is an adjustable pellet seater that hangs around your neck and seals each pellet to the correct depth in the breech. Using it immediately tightened the Bronco’s groups!


When you load a pellet manually, you seat it flush with the breech like this.


The PellSet tool enables you to seat each pellet to the same depth in the bore. The tool is adjustable so you can fine-tune it.


Ten RWS Hobby pellets seated flush with the end of the barrel grouped in 0.916b inches at 10 meters. While not a great target, this demonstrates that the Bronco wants to shoot Hobbys well, because 8 of the 10 pellets made a group about half the size of the large one. read more