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Beeman R8: Part 3

15 hodin 6 min zpět

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The Beeman R8 looks like a baby R1.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • RWS Hobby
  • Adjusted the sights
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Superdome
  • The big surprise!
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the Beeman R8 that I acquired at the Findlay airgun show earlier this month. I’m shooting off a rest at 10 meters, using the open sights. I rested the rifle directly on the sandbag, because it is shooting so smooth.

RWS Hobby

I tried RWS Hobby pellets first. I felt they might do well, given the rifle’s power, though the velocity test revealed they are substandard in this rifle. I should have remembered that, because they didn’t group that well. Ten pellets went into 0.551-inches at 10 meters. I know that’s better than a lot of rifles I’ve tested recently, but I expect more from the R8.

Ten RWS Hobby pellets made this 0.551-inch group at 10 meters. It’s not bad, but this rifle can do better.

After I had shot all the other pellets and adjusted the sights to hit the center of the bull I felt that Hobbys deserved a second chance, so I shot another group. This time 10 pellets went into 0.724-inches, so the first group was representative of this pellets’s accuracy.

A second group of Hobbys is more centered on target but it’s also larger, at 0.724-inches. Not the pellet for this rifle!

Adjusted the sights

I decided to adjust the rear sight to get the pellets close to the center of the bull. Tomorrow I will tell you about my time filming American Airgunner, where I rediscovered what most people think about accuracy. I will explain it tomorrow. At any rate, I wanted to see the pellets in the center of the bull.

JSB Exact RS

Next up were JSB Exact RS pellets that performed so well in the velocity test. They also grouped well, with 10 going into 0.37-inches. That is what I expected from this R8.

Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.37-inches at 10 meters. This is what I expected from the rifle.

RWS Superdome

Next I tried some RWS Superdomes. Given the low power (at present) of this R8, this is a heavy pellet to try, but I find sometimes that heavier pellets do work well at lower velocities. This was one such time, as 10 Superdomes went into 0.456-inches at 10 meters.

Ten RWS Superdome pellets grouped in 0.456-inches at 10 meters.

The big surprise!

Last week I told you how I select pellets for tests. I told you that I never know for sure what a pellet will do, but I try to use the proven performers. The last pellet I shot in the R8 was the Crosman Premier lite. As with all the other pellets, I did not look at the target until the final pellet was fired. Actually, I waited until I had to retrieve the target. And that is when I saw it — 10 shots in 0.297-inches! Yes — this R8 can shoot!

Ten Crosman Premier lite pellets went into 0.297-inches at 10 meters.


Well, now we know that the rifle can shoot. Next I think I will take it apart and we will all see what’s inside. That is another chance to see the Air Venturi Rail Lock spring compressor system in action. Then I will lubricate the powerplant with some special lube you will all want to learn about, and we will see what happens to the velocity.

I do plan on shooting this rifle with a scope, as well. I think that will happen after the lubrication. After that, we shall see if there is anything more to do.

Beeman R8: Part 2

Pá, 04/21/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The Beeman R8 looks like a baby R1.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • RWS Hobby
  • Shot cycle
  • RWS Superdome
  • Trigger pull
  • JSB Exact RS
  • How does this rifle compare?
  • Cocking effort
  • Next

Well, to say there is a lot of interest in the Beeman R8 would be an understatement! Just as I got a huge interest at the Findlay airgun show where I bought it, this blog has also revealed many shooters who are interested in both the R8 and in the current HW50S that I will now have to test for you. [Update on that. my friend, Mac, did test an HW50S back in 2010.]

I was very excited to test this rifle because it’s one of the smoothest breakbarrels I have every shot. That list includes my Tyrolean R8 and the RWS Diana 45 I tuned for Johnny Hill. Let’s get right to the test.

RWS Hobby

First up was the RWS Hobby — the pellet I thought would be the fastest. When the R8 was current Beeman advertised the .177 version at 735 f.p.s. — a slight increase over where they rated the HW50S (705 f.p.s.). They listed the .177 R7 right at 700 f.p.s. They didn’t specify the pellet used to get those numbers, but the Hobby is a time-honored speed king among lead pellets.

The R8 I am testing shot 10 Hobbys at an average 523 f.p.s.. The spread went from a low of 515 to a high of 542 f.p.s., a range of 27 f.p.s. That’s pretty slow on the average and high on the spread. Something seems to be up.

Shot cycle

The shot cycle is glass-smooth. I now think that’s due to all the grease we saw in the gun In Part 1, because these numbers are not what I expected.

RWS Superdome

Next I tried some RWS Superdomes in the rifle. They averaged 503 f.p.s., which was faster than I expected, after seeing what the Hobbys did. The spread went from 483 to 515 f.p.s. a range of 32 f.p.s. Yes, something is up with this rifle alright!

Trigger pull

The Rekord trigger as it is adjusted on the rifle has two distinct stages and stage two breaks at 1 lb. 13 oz. That is a lot heavier than I expected. I thought it was breaking at less than one pound. That tells me the trigger is set up and adjusted very well. I plan to leave it where it it and just get used to it. Had it been less than a pound, I probably would have adjusted it heavier for safety.

JSB Exact RS

The surprise came with JSB Exact RS pellets. They averaged 645 f.p.s., even though at 7.33 grains they are heavier than Hobbys. That tells me this rifle doesn’t like Hobbys — probably because they are too big at the skirt.

The spread went from 628 to 657 f.p.s., which is 29 f.p.s., so even this pellet is not that consistent with the tune that’s in this rifle.

How does this rifle compare?

So, how does this R8 compare to my Tyrolean R8? In that rifle, RWS Hobbys average 721 f.p.s., compared to the 523 f.p.s. of this rifle And the spread with Hobbys in the Tyrolean is 40 f.p.s., so that one is not too stable, either.

With JSB Exact RS the Tyrolean gets 718 f.p.s. on average with a 9 f.p.s spread from 712 to 721 f.p.s. I think it’s clear this R8 is no performing up to spec. and I think the heavy grease has something to do with it. Maybe the rifle needs a new breech seal, too. I will explore all of that in the future.

Cocking effort

This rifle cocks with 25 lbs. of effort, as measured on my bathroom scale. The R8 Tyrolean also cocks with 25 lbs. effort, so I think the springs in both guns are equivalent.


I will shoot the R8 for accuracy at 10 meters next, but that’s mostly for fun. After that I’ll tear it apart and see what we have. Is it just a lube tune or has more been done? We shall see!

How does BB select pellets for a test?

Čt, 04/20/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Don’t I wish?
  • What’s the criteria?
  • Brands first
  • Choosing a pellet
  • Target guns
  • Action airguns
  • Hunting airguns
  • General purpose airguns
  • Trick pellets
  • How should you do it?

This blog was requested by reader Cobalt 327. And the answer is simple. BB gets paid by the pellet manufacturers to promote their products — the same as for the airgun manufacturers. The more they pay me, the more I talk about their pellets. I get a very healthy stipend from Crosman for writing about their Premiers, and from H&N for touting their Baracuda Match pellets. JSB actually sends me on all-expense paid vacations to the Bahamas several times each year, in addition to a very large check each month! Pocketa-pocketa-pocketa…

Don’t I wish?

I know that’s what some people think. There are no kickbacks that I am aware of in the airgun industry. If there are, whoever is paying them is fooling themselves, because we writers do this because we love it. I do get paid to write this blog, but no one tells me what to write and I have never been told to give a product anything but an honest report.

I do get free pellets from manufacturers and from Pyramyd Air. Every once in awhile I will buy some pellets out of my own pocket, but that will be because they aren’t easily available through any other source.

What’s the criteria?

So, how do I select a pellet to test? The answer is simple, really. I have very little time because when I’m not writing blogs, I’m either testing airguns, answering questions or doing research. I work at this job 6 days a week and up to 16 hours per day, though not altogether most of the time. Suffice to say I have very little time to spare. So, testing a new airgun with pellets I can’t trust just doesn’t cut it. That’s why you see the same pellets in my reports time after time — because I trust them.

Sometimes, I am surprised when a certain pellet lets me down. It isn’t expected, but I try to milk the occasion for all it’s worth, because there is no time to stop the train and smell the flowers. I take high-speed pictures of the flowers and try to imagine what they smell like! Laugh if you want — it’s true. You guys just think you like honesty, but if I ran three consecutive bad reviews back to back, you would get bored. And, given the excellence of today’s airguns, I never have to.

If you were to look in my pellet cabinet you’d see a lot of pellets — maybe as many as a small store would have. A lot of those pellets are ones I have tried in the past and found specific uses for, or they just didn’t pan out for the hit list. I used to buy pellets based on readers’ recommendations, but stopped when I discovered not all readers have the same criteria for accuracy that I have. It’s not that I’m such a great shot. It’s that I want to get myself out of the picture as much as possible and let the gun being tested stand or fall as it may. How I shoot doesn’t matter. It’s how that new .25 caliber LuftWhacker shoots — or doesn’t shoot.

Therefore, I have a stable of pellets I know to be reliable. Those are the first ones I try. Then, I let the circumstances of the test dictate the next step. At times I purposely try a pellet I think is ill-suited to a particular airguns, and if it pans out, I tell you.

Brands first

The brands I trust the most are JSB, H&N, RWS, Qiang Yuan and Crosman. Then there are secondary brands that are made by a few of these same makers — Beeman and Air Arms. If I lived outside the U.S. these same brands might take on different names, so what I’m saying only applies here. I don’t trust all of the pellets made by any of the brands. But I trust most of JSB’s (and Air Arms) domes, H&N’s Baracudas (and Beeman Kodiaks), H&N’s target pellets, with the Finale Match being on top of that list. And I trust pretty much anything RWS makes, though pellets like their Superpoints are reserved for certain airguns. Finally, I trust the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet! That darn thing usually shoots the pants off half the premium brands!

Choosing a pellet

I tend to select lighter pellets for weaker airguns, regardless of their powerplant. If air or gas sealing is an issue, like it is in CO2 guns, most pneumatics and all taploaders, I look for pellets with thinner skirts. That’s where a pellet like the RWS Superpoint comes to the front.

For the magnum spring guns I find it’s best to start with a heavier pellet, but often they will shoot their best with a lightweight. For these I want pellets that have thicker skirts, because when the gun fires the air blast is sudden and powerful.

Target guns

For 10-meter target guns I always select wadcutter pellets. I know some of you shoot these guns with domes and they can be fun to plink with, but I stay focused on their primary purpose. You have to remember what it is I am doing. It’s not the same as plinking, so my pellet needs are usually quite specific.

Action airguns

These are the semiautomatic repeaters and those that fire full auto. They rely on smooth feeding, and I have found that harder pellets like those Crosman makes are the best bet. The good news is Crosman pellets are made well and are usually quite accurate. They are also often a bargain!

Hunting airguns

I don’t care what hunting ammunition costs — it has to do its job. If it does, I will pay the price. We are starting to see specialized hunting ammunition come to market whose price we cannot compare to what we have now. These pellets are made for one job only and if they do that job, they are a bargain.

General purpose airguns

You won’t find me testing airguns this way, but when I give a gun to someone as a present I generally give them lower-cost pellets. I don’t know how long they are going to shoot that gun, so I don’t see the need to go top drawer.

Trick pellets

These are pellets that depart from the general description of what a pellet is. They are touted as being able to punch through metal, or they are copper-plated to not oxidize or they have some other unique and unusual characteristic. I remember year ago when my wife Edith invented a trick pellet called “Flava Shots” that basted the animal in sauce to prepare them for cooking. They were edible, so you didn’t have to worry about leaving them in the game. It was an April Fool’s joke that got a lot of attention!

How should you do it?

I bet you are already doing this to some extent. If you have more than a single tin of pellets you probably have one you like the best. That’s how it starts and none of us knows how it ends. When we get that far there is no one we can tell!

ASG X9 Classic BB pistol: Part 2

St, 04/19/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

ASG X9 Classic.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • Loading the BBs
  • ASG Blaster BBs
  • Blowback
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • H&N Smart Shot lead BBs
  • Plastic BBs
  • Trigger pull
  • Shot count
  • Evaluation so far

Today I look at the velocity of the ASG X9 Classic BB pistol. If you recall, this is the pistol that came with the plastic BBs, so they will be included in this report. Let’s get started.


The CO2 cartridge was installed first. If you remember, with this pistol the cartridge goes into the drop-free magazine, and the floorplate has to be removed for access. A large Allen wrench is provided to pierce the cartridge. Then the BBs can be loaded.

Loading the BBs

The manual is not very helpful on this matter. It just tells you to load the BBs. The picture with the explanation, though small, shows them being loaded at the bottom of the magazine, with the follower being held down, so I tried that and found it worked. It’s hard to see where the BB enters the magazine, but when the follower is held all the way down, it’s right there. A channel in the magazine helps you load.

ASG Blaster BBs

First up were ASG Blaster BBs. Ten of them averaged 294 f.p.s. The spread ranged from 284 to 304 f.p.s. That’s 20 f.p.s.


The X9 Classic is a full blowback pistol, and that function feels very realistic. On some blowback pistols the slide only comes back part way and it operates very rapidly, so the feel isn’t as intense as it is on the X9 Classic. This one feels quite real.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

Next I tried 10 Hornady Black Diamond BBs. These averaged 292 f.p.s., with a spread from 283 to 303 f.p.s. That’s 20 f.p.s. again.

H&N Smart Shot lead BBs

Next I tried H&N Smart Shot lead BBs. I knew people would be interested in how these perform in the X9 Classic. The spring-loaded magazine allows you to use them. Ten of them averaged 245 f.p.s. The spread went from 236 to 254 f.p.s., so 18 f.p.s.

Plastic BBs

Okay, I know nothing about these plastic BBs that came with the gun. They have no brand name and are in a plain white cardboard box. They each weigh 1.2 grains and measure 0.1725-inches in diameter. They loaded in the same way the other BBs did.

Shot number one went out at 500 f.p.s. and the next shot went 468 f.p.s. And that was the last plastic BB to leave the gun. The next 8 jammed in the barrel! I will not be testing these for accuracy, as they are too unreliable in this airgun. I might try them in a different BB gun sometime though. I know some of you are very curious how accurate they are.

Trigger pull

Because of the blowback, the X9 Classic cocks itself semiautomatically every time. So the trigger is single action, only. Yes, the gun does fire double action, as well, but only on the first shot when the hammer is not already cocked. After that it’s single action, so that was the only way I tested it.

The trigger pull is light with a lot of trigger movement. Stage two is not definite. But the trigger releases at 1 lb. 15 oz, which is very light. This pistol will be a pleasure to test for accuracy.

Shot count

I had fired 47 shots to this point in the test. Now I was ready to check the shot count. I was going to fire 10 more blank shots and then check the velocity with ASG Blaster BBs but the gas ran out completely at shot 51. The slide stopped catching on the last shot on shot number 48. From that I would say there are about 40-45 safe shots per CO2 cartridge. That makes the X9 a heavier user of gas than expected. I think it must be using a lot of gas to operate the blowback.

Evaluation so far

The ASG X9 Classic BB pistol is certainly different. It has a very realistic recoil from the blowback, and the trigger is very light. But it uses more gas than I am accustomed to and the velocity is lower than similar BB pistols I test. I think those things might be related to the blowback.

Accuracy will be next.

How many shots will an airgun get over its life?

Út, 04/18/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Action airguns
  • Materials failure
  • Dielectric welding
  • Airguns with regulators
  • CO2 guns
  • Pneumatic airguns
  • Spring piston airguns
  • The lowly BB gun
  • But what is the number?
  • The point

This report is written at the request of reader redrafter. I made the title long, because it contains some things we need to think about. If an airgun is overhauled and gets new seals and springs, is that the end of its life? I don’t think so. What I am calling the end of an airgun’s life is when it no longer works and cannot be repaired with parts that are available. I say that because a careful worker can often extend the life of something beyond even that end. So, my definition of an airgun’s life is when there are no longer any repair parts that are easily available.

Action airguns

Let’s get these out of the way up front. Action airguns include the action pistols, submachine guns, revolvers and rifles that allow rapid fire like the Crosman 1077. As a class of airgun, these are the most likely guns to fail, and that is because of how they are intended to be used — i.e. rapid-fire most of the time. Within this group some guns have a reputation for early failure, while others, like the 1077, seem to last much longer than their synthetic materials would imply.

My advice for this class of airgun is don’t get too attached. Sooner or later, the rapid firing they are subjected to will wear their synthetic parts past their serviceable limits. And outright abuse, which this class of airgun gets more than any other, will speed that up.

Materials failure

When the wrong materials are used, they will fail. One textbook example of that is the Schimel GP22 air pistol that has a number of materials defects. First, the cocking arm is made of diecast metal that can do the job as long as it is in good shape, but if the casting has an unseen flaw such as a void in the metal, it will corrode over time and eventually fail at that point. Diecast is not the best material for strain. On the other hand, Daisy uses a plastic pump arm on their 853 target rifle. It seems flimsy, but they are not known to break easily. Sometimes the material that seems flimsy will surprise you.

The cocking arm of a Schimel pistol is diecast metal that sometimnes breaks.

Dielectric welding

The Schimel pistol also has problems with some of its parts welding themselves to others over long periods of time. The climate has a lot to do with this.

Different metals in contact in the Schimel sometimes cause dielectric welding over time.

The Schimel is a study in materials shortcomings. Its plastic grips shrink and warp over time and its o-rings are made from incorrect material for use with CO2. They absorb the gas and swell to many times their size, preventing the removal of an expended CO2 cartridge for hours after it is exhausted.  Most problems are because the Schimel was built at a time when modern synthetic materials were still in their infancy. The makers used what was available.

The synthetic piston seals in FWB 124s, all Walther spring rifles and all Diana spring rifles that were made in the 1960s and into the 1970s will fail through dry rot. Whether used or stored, they all fail with time. The replacements are made from the correct materials and the problem no longer exists.

Now, by my definition, the guns made from steel whose seals fail can be repaired and live on. By my definition, their lives are not over when they need a rebuild. On the other hand, guns like Schimels often fail in ways that make them non-repairable.

Airguns with regulators

It isn’t a question of “if” a reg will fail; it’s when it will happen. They all fail over time, so your best bet is to buy a gun whose reg is easily repaired by the user.

On the other hand, regulators are repairable, so they don’t end the gun’s life when they fail. They just cause a momentary stoppage until they are either repaired or removed.

CO2 guns

This class of airguns contains all the single shots like the Crosman 180s and the Sheridan 2260s. These guns last longer than the action airguns that are also CO2-powered, plus they are very rebuildable. Some of them can be built entirely from parts! As long as the parts are available, these guns can be restored and renewed. Their life is pretty much indefinite.

On the other hand, there are more complex CO2 airguns with proprietary parts. These guns will continue to function only as long as those parts are available. The Crosman 600 pistol is one such example. There is a cam and a feed arm the cam operates that feeds pellets from the inline magazine to the barrel. If either of these parts breaks, there are no replacements — aside from parts guns. But since these parts are usually the first to go, you never find them.

Crosman’s 600 pistol is like an action pistol, but its great trigger and accuracy boost it into the ranks of a serious shooter. When proprietary parts break, there are no replacements.

Pneumatic airguns

I could break this class down to the less expensive multi-pumps and the more expensive PCPs, but in general these also have an indefinite life. But there are a couple of known issues. The guns with barrels soldered to the pump tubes can separate at that juncture. Scoping them often causes this. Once separated, no one has yet successfully devised a commercial method of resoldering them. Perhaps one or two clever workmen have done it, but no repair center I know of offers this repair.

The other major failure happens when the pump mechanisms are overstressed and the pivot pins hog out their pin holes in brass tubes. Repairing this failure is a thankless task that is possible but not economically feasible. In other words it can be done if you have the money and find the right repairman.

Spring piston airguns

This class of airgun lasts for hundreds of thousands to millions of rounds. The uber-powerful sporters will be the first to wear out from parts strain, but the milder shooters can last and last. Many BSA rifles built before 1910 are still going strong, with no signs of failure. There are club target rifles whose lives have passed the one million-shot mark and they are still going strong. They will occasionally need seals and springs, but everything else just keeps working.

After an overhaul (new spring, piston seal, breech seal) a spring piston airgun can be expected to get 10,000 to 75,000 shots — all depending on the power and construction of the gun.

The lowly BB gun

And the longevity winner is — the common Daisy-style lever action BB gun. The U.S. Army had guns they documented shooting over 20 million shots in the Army’s Quick Kill training program! Sure, parts were replaced, but the guns themselves kept going and going. In fact, Daisy’s former marketing VP, Joe Murfin, once lamented to me jokingly that Daisy made those guns too well! At least I think he was joking.

The barrel of a centerfire firearm wears rapidly and may get 1,000 to 5,000 useful shots in its lifetime. It is difficult to replace when needed. A BB gun shot tube, by contrast, is an inexpensive part that any owner can replace.

But what is the number?

I’ve told you about the relative longevity of different types of airguns, but that doesn’t answer the specific question that was asked. How many shots will an airgun get over its lifetime? It is impossible to be specific, but I can give you a relative scale to consider.

An action airgun will get from thousands to tens of thousands of shots.

Airguns made from improper materials may get from thousands to tens of thousands of shots. The more they are shot when new, the more shots they will get.

The life of many CO2 guns cannot be estimated, because it is possible to replace all of their parts. As long as good parts are available, their shot count is unlimited. I’m talking about the simpler guns when I say this. The complex designs will still contain proprietary parts that, once they fail, they bring down the entire airgun.

Spring piston guns may get millions of shots over their life, providing they are maintained and not abused. The lower-powered guns will last the longest.

The point

The point of all this is, in most cases, an airgun is built to outlive its original owner. There are some exceptions that I noted, but in most cases, there is no practical end to an airgun’s life.

Beeman R8: Part 1

Po, 04/17/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The beginning
  • What is a lube tune?
  • The rifle
  • Initial impressions
  • The plan
  • History
  • Summary

When talking about guns that become favorites, they say the airgun picks the shooter. Actually they say that about a lot of hobbies. This R8 certainly picked me — and then steamrolled me into submission!

The beginning

I was at the dinner/reception the evening before the 2017 Findlay airgun show last weekend when Tyler Patner and Kristen Coss from Pyramyd Air walked in. I went over to say hello and Tyler asked me a question about an old airgun they had brought to sell. Actually they brought about 50 old guns and a lot of vintage Beeman pellets that they received in the purchase of a dealership. I asked to see the list and noticed a Beeman R8. That is an airgun I have never directly tested, though my Tyrolean breakbarrel that’s one of my all-time favorites started out as an R8. That one was tuned, and I always wondered what a standard R8 would be like, so I cut a deal for this rifle, sight unseen.

The next morning at the show we consummated the deal and I had a new/old R8. It was prettier than described, so I was pleased. What I didn’t know was I had just taken the leash of a lightning bolt!

My Beeman R8 looks like a baby R1.

The rifle remained hidden away in a gun case for the rest of the show, but when anyone asked me if I had found anything interesting, I stupidly mentioned it. That lead to a number of offers to buy it outright — offers that went beyond just money. It turns out that a lot of vintage airgunners (with vintage referring to the person this time, not the gun) know about the R8 and want one. I could have sold that rifle for a considerable profit perhaps five times throughout the course of the show.

All I wanted to do was test it and compare a stock R8 to my custom one, but the incredible interest in the gun awakened my own curiosity. And, as I discovered last Thursday, this R8 is not stock. Someone has been inside and has at least given it a lube tune.

What is a lube tune?

A lube tune is just a lubrication of a spring gun with the objective of smoothing the powerplant. No additional power is gained this way, unless some of the powerplant parts are also changed. The piston seal, breech seal and mainspring are the primary parts that would possibly need changing.

I won’t know what has been done until the powerplant is completely disassembled and examined. The breech seal that I can see appears to be stock and also in good condition. I intend to use the new Air Venturi Rail Lock spring compressor for this disassembly. You will get to see all the parts as they come out of the rifle, and I will give you a detailed description of all that I see and do.

The rifle

The Beeman R8 is a conventional breakbarrel spring rifle that’s on the small side of an adult airgun. The length is 43-inches and the rifle weighs about 7.2 lbs. The barrel is 18.3-inches long. The pull (length from the trigger to the end of the butt) is 14-inches. The beech stock has a cheekpiece on the right side and the rifle was also offered in a left-hand version that differed only in the stock. The pistol grip is checkered on both sides, and there is a palm swell on the right side. The forearm is smooth.

The trigger is a sporting Rekord that’s found in many other Weihrauch sporting rifles. The safety is automatic and comes on every time the rifle is cocked. If it is taken off, the barrel must be broken again to reset it.

My last comment about the rifle will be that it is just right. It’s not too heavy, not too large and certainly not too hard to cock. The firing sysle is dead calm on the rifle I’m testing, but that may not hold true for a gun that hasn’t been tuned. Perhaps a reader who owns one can comment?

Initial impressions

I didn’t get a chance to shoot this rifle until I returned home from the show a week ago. When I cocked it the first time I was surprised by how easy it is! I will report on that effort for you in Part 2. As it now stands I think it’s about the same as my Tyrolean.

Then I shot it and got surprise number 2. The firing cycle is just as smooth as the Tyrolean’s! Just from this I felt the airgun had to have been tuned, but I waited to tell you until I saw the proof that I showed you in the report on the Rail Lock Compressor. There is more grease inside than I’ve even seen in a Weihrauch air rifle, plus the grease is both thicker and tackier than the grease Weihrauch uses. Trust me on that, for I have seen the insides of many Weihrach airguns.

This is not a stock Beeman R8. But what has been done to it? Does anything still need doing that could make it shoot better? I enjoy the way it cocks and shoots at present, but I don’t want to get that through excessive grease, alone. So we may be in for a long tuning session.

The plan

Everyone wants to know how the rifle performs right now. So, that’s the next step. I will do a velocity test, followed by an accuracy test. Those tests will tell us where the rifle is. We can compare that to the Tyrolean’s performance, and it will also serve as the base against any tuning I might do. I want this rifle to come out of this testing and tuning better than it went in — otherwise, what’s the point? If grease, alone, makes it this good, why not just leave it as is and be satisfied?

This R8 has a front globe sight that accepts interchangeable inserts, and there is a square post in there right now. The accuracy should not improve from tuning. Accuracy lives mostly in the barrel and, to a lesser extent, in the stock bedding. The bedding seems good as is.

I told you that the forearm is held to the action by a single screw. In that photo you also saw the articulated cocking link that allows the stock’s cocking slot to be cut short. That makes the stock stiffer, which reduces vibration. Beeman made a big thing of this in his catalog when the R8 was launched, along with the R7, back in 1982. He put that into the R7 description, but mentioned in the R8 description that the reader should also read the R7 description, because some of it applied to both rifles.

This photo of the forearm stock screw also shows the two-piece articulated cocking link. That design allows for a shorter cocking slot in the stock.

The Rekord trigger is currently adjusted very light — perhaps too light for my taste. I’ll measure that for you in Part 2. I might have to stiffen the return spring resistance and make stage two of the trigger pull more definite.


The Beeman R8 is based on Weihrauch’s older design of the HW 50S — the one that had a 25mm spring tube. The current HW50S spring tube is 26mm and is a different gun. That old rifle was legendary for its smoothness, and, besides my Tyrolean R8, I actually own another example of that rifle. It’s my HW55SF.

Of all the HW55 target rifles, the HW55SF (also SM and ST) is the one that doesn’t have a barrel lock! It’s really an HW50 that has a heavier barrel, target stock, target sights and the special target version of the Rekord trigger.

The HW55SF is not a standard HW55. It is based on the HW50 and does not have the barrel lock.

As I mentioned, the R7 and R8 were launched at the same time. The R7 was a Beemanized (that really means a more classic style stock with a longer forearm) HW30S, while the R8 was the HW50S. The S stands for rifles that have the Rekord trigger. When they were first offered the R7 sold for $159.50, and the R8 went for $249.50. The Beeman R1 was priced at $329.50 at this same time, which is April of 1983.

The Blue Book of Airguns says the R8 ran from 1983 until 1996, but I have a Beeman catalog from 1982 in which it is advertised. So — late ’82/early ’83 is about the start.


That’s all for today. This will be a conventional test until I tear the rifle apart. Then we will see where it goes.

Crosman’s M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 3

Pá, 04/14/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun is a classic lookalike airgun.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Daisy BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Accuracy spoiler
  • Air Venturi Steel BBs
  • H&N Smart Shot BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Results
  • Value
  • Summary

This is accuracy day for the Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun we are testing. I have tested this BB gun several times in the past, so I have a pretty good idea of what it can do, but there is always the hope that a new BB that hasn’t been tried will surprise us.

The test

I shot from 5 meters (16 feet 4 inches) using a UTG monopod rest to steady the gun. I was seated for this.

Daisy BBs

I have tested Daisy BBs in this gun several times in the past, so I didn’t test them again. The last time I tested them at 5 meters, I put 10 into 5.148-inches, with 9 landing in 1.354-inches. I think that one wild shot was a fluke and the 9 shots better represent what this gun will do with this BB. In fact, I learned something in this test that probably explains that wild shot. I’ll tell you about it in a moment.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

The first BB I shot in this test was the Hornady Black Diamond. My first shot missed the Winchester Target Cube altogether and I wondered what happened. This BB gun was never that inaccurate!

Accuracy spoiler

When that happened I wondered what went wrong. Was the front sight loose? Hello — what’s this? The entire barrel is loose and rotates on its axis! The front sight flops side-to-side about a third of an inch. That could explain a lot of things, including that one wide shot with the Daisy BBs I just mentioned. I knew I had to do something about it if I was going to get any accuracy from the gun.

After discovering that, I purposely rotated the barrel all the way to the right after the gun was cocked each time. That should at least give some consistency.

I loaded another Black Diamond BB (to get back to 10 in the magazine) and shot four times. From the sound I could tell I was hitting the target cube, but where was not obvious. So I walked to the target and saw 4 holes inside the black bull! Okay, that works! The final group is larger, but still not bad for this gun.

Ten Black Diamond BBs went into 1.701-inches at 5 meters. Nine are in 1.133-inches, so not much different than the Daisys.

Ten Hornady Black Diamond BBs went into 1.701-inches at 5 meters, with 9 in 1.133-inches.

Air Venturi Steel BBs

The next BB I tested was the Air Venturi steel BB They were not as accurate as the Hornadys. Ten went into 2.357-inches at 5 meters, and you can see that the group is much more open.

Ten Air Venturi Steel BBs went into 2.357-inches at 5 meters.

H&N Smart Shot BBs

The last BB I tested was the copper-plated lead H&N Smart Shot lead BB. One reader asked about them and wondered if they would feed through the M1 Carbine magazine, since it doesn’t have a magnet. I thought they would, but this was the first time I have tried to shoot them in this gun.

They feed perfectly! You can hear they are going out a little slower, but the M1 Carbine has enough power for them. Ten went into 1.886-inches at 5 meters, with 9 going into 1.212-inches. That’s not good enough to justify the additional expense, in my book.

Ten Smart Shot lead BBs went into 1.886-inches at 5 meters. Nine of them are in 1.212-inches.


Well, this M1 Carbine has not mysteriously grown more accurate over the years. It has maintained its power, which is good, and the coolness quotient is off the chart! I still regard it as a special BB gun that I enjoy more for what it copies than how well it shoots. But these guns will all be different, so nothing says that another one can’t be more accurate.


I will say that at the Findlay show I attended last Saturday, I was surprised to see asking prices for these guns have risen in past few years. Guns with magazines that used to fetch $90 are now being offered for $150. And I saw a ridiculous price, as well — over $500 for a gun with a Croswood stock! I didn’t see any wood-stocked Carbines at the show, but there probably was at least one. If the plastic-stocked gun goes for $150, the wood-stocked one should fetch about $250. My own gun is in good condition with a lot of finish wear, but it also has the original box that ought to command a premium.


This is not a BB gun you buy to shoot targets. It’s meant for fun, and will hit a soda can if it isn’t too far away. This gun is nice because of the M1 Carbine that it replicates so well.

Air Venturi Rail Lock spring compressor: Part 2

Čt, 04/13/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The Air Venturil Rail Lock spring compressor is compact.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Attaches to scope rail
  • Enter the R8!
  • R8 out of the stock
  • Remove the Rekord trigger
  • Unscrew the end cap
  • Install the mainspring compressor
  • Removing the end cap
  • One last photo
  • Assembly
  • Evaluation so far

Today I start testing the new Air Venturi Rail Lock spring compressor. Many of you have expressed an interest in this tool, and I want to test it as broadly as possible, because all airguns are not made the same.

Attaches to scope rail

This compressor attaches to the scope rail on your airgun. It will work on both pistols and rifles — as long as there is a scope rail to attach to. It attaches to both 11mm dovetails and Weaver/Picatinney dovetails. The rails have to be close enough to the rear of the spring tube to allow the compressor to work, but that will become clear when you see the pictures.

Enter the R8!

I told you I bought a Beeman R8 from the Pyramyd Air table at the Findlay airgun show. I had planned to start testing the compressor on my Beeman R1, but the R8 has a threaded end cap just like the R1, and I have a special reason for wanting to look inside this rifle, so why not get a twofer?

Beeman R8. It looks like a baby R1.

The R8 is based on the old HW50S that is now obsolete. The current HW50S is a different spring rifle, though the size, power and many other characteristics remain the same.

You will notice no stock screws are showing on the side of the forearm. That’s because it has just a single screw located on the bottom of the forearm.

The R8 has just one forearm screw.

R8 out of the stock

Take out two triggerguard screws and one forearm screw and the barreled action comes out of the stock. Before the mainspring compressor can be attached, there is still some work to do. The unitized Rekord trigger has to come out.

Remove the Rekord trigger

Two pins must be punched out of the end cap. The trigger drops free and the safety and safety spring are also removed.

To remove the Rekord trigger, drift the two pins (arrows) out from left to right. The trigger will then come free.

Once the trigger was out there was no longer any doubt that the R8 has been at least lube-tuned in the past. Let me show you how I know.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this gun has been lubed outside the factory!

Weihrauch never put that much grease near the trigger. The orange screw is also not standard. And this is not Weihrauch grease. It’s tackier and thicker, though not as thick as black tar.

Unscrew the end cap

The reason I chose the R8 is because of its threaded end cap. I thought that would be an interesting test of the Rail Lock Compressor, because the cap must turn while under pressure from the compressor. The white nylon tip of the compressor does not turn, and I wanted to find out how the R8 end cap would affect that. So first I unscrewed the end cap until only a few threads held it to the spring tube.

The end cap is unscrewed until just a few threads hold it.

Install the mainspring compressor

Now the mainspring compressor was installed. Let’s review the parts of this tool.

I found it best to lay the spring tube in a sandbag rest so I could hold the compressor with both hands. The rail mounting grooves on the compressor are short and have to be guided into the grooves on the spring tube.

The compressor grooves fit the scope grooves on the spring tube. Just tighten the one screw and you’re done!

Once the compressor is attached, push the quick-release button and slide the threaded rod until the white nylon bushing touches the end cap.

Removing the end cap

With the compressor attached, it was an easy matter to unscrew the end cap until the compressor stopped it from turning, then unscrew the compressor screw a little, then unscrew the end cap, then the compressor screw and so on. This was what I wanted to test. Would this work? Yes, it works very well. Sometimes the threaded rod “walks” around the end cap a little and you know it has to be loosened a little more, but it never slips off the end cap.

Would the end cap pop off its last screw thread when it got there? Apparently I did it perfectly because I never saw or felt anything. The end cap was just free of the spring tube and still firmly retained by the threaded rod. The R8 mainspring is pushing against the end cap with 40-60 lbs. of force at this point. Let’s look at how much preload is on that spring.

The R8 mainspring is fully relaxed at this point. So, there is about 1.5-inches of preload on the mainspring. That’s what sticks out of the spring tube, added to the length of the end cap threads.

One last photo

I’m not going to finish disassembling the R8 at this time. I want to test it as it is, then maybe retune it for you in the future. I know a better grease for the powerplant, and I should not have to use as much as the last guy did. How much did he use? Let’s see.

That’s a lot of grease! I can reduce this with better grease and still get the same smoothness (I’ll tell you about that on Monday). Perhaps I’ll pick up some velocity.


I know that you are curious how well the compressor works with the rifle going back together, so of course I did that, as well. This is where the manuals often tell you to “assemble in reverse order,” but you want to know if there are any surprises. So I did it. I won’t lie — getting those fine end cap threads to start in the spring tube was a challenge. But as I played with the compressor I saw that it wasn’t going to let the cap slip away, so I concentrated on aligning the end cap with the spring tube.

As I screwed the end cap, I also tightened the compressor’s threaded rod and when the threads caught, I could feel it. The trick is the alignment of the end cap. Once the threads caught I continued turning the end cap until there were 5-6 threads engaged, then I remove the compressor and screwed the end cap all the way in.

Evaluation so far

I found the Air Venturi Rail Lock Compressor easy to use. It worked very well, leaving both of my hands free to do other things if I needed them. Installation took a couple trials, but now that I know how to do it, this compressor will be quick to install. And there is a knack to learn for assembly, but that’s going to be specific to each type of airgun you work on. This will end up being a very large series!

2017 Findlay airgun show: Part 2

St, 04/12/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Here we go
  • Wire-stock Daisy
  • What is Findlay?
  • 10-meter airguns
  • Sold some stuff
  • What about a big bore?
  • Were modern airguns there?
  • Toys, too
  • The Larc
  • There is more
Here we go

Yesterday’s report was just a lead-in. Today I want to tell you about the show. First — it was large. It was held in two rooms, with hallways and out-of-the-way nooks also being used. And every table was filled! This was a show you could spend many happy hours seeing just one time. And the tables changed over time, so your second time through things were different. People bought stuff from the public that attended, plus they brought out some of the stuff they didn’t unpack in the beginning. It was an all-day affair!

This is a long shot of the main show room. The floor of this room is an indoor soccer field, and it was filled!

Wire-stock Daisy

I see wire-stock Daisy BB guns at most of the larger shows, but they are always later variations. There were probably 5 of those at this show. I think this second variation you are about to see is the first one I’ve ever seen that was offered for sale. It’s so old it doesn’t say Daisy. It says Plymouth Iron Windmill — the name of the company at that time. I show it to show the price tag.

This is a real second variation wire stock Daisy BB gun for sale!

… and this is the price! Never saw one this old for sale before!

What is Findlay?

At this point, I stopped to reflect on the show. It has become the replacement for the old Winston-Salem show that Mike Ahuna started in 1993, and then transferred to Fred Liady in Roanoke. It attracts the top collectors and buyers. Many people who were well-known at those shows have now left the range, but their spirits live on in the guns and newer dealers that are filling in. Stop me now or I will start singing We’ll meet again!

10-meter airguns

A reader (Yogi, I believe) asked which show might have the best vintage 10-meter rifles. Well, Findlay, for starters. I had a Mauser 300SL on my table, and across the aisle, show promoter, Dan Lerma, had a nice FWB 300. I saw several nice FWB 300s on tables, Including a gem in the box. And across the aisle from that was an FWB either 600 or 601.

But there were also 10-meter pistols galore. Some were common ones like the Daisy (FEG) pistols that came in a neat lockable case. And I already showed you one of the many IZH 46Ms that were in the hall. But the gem of this show (and one I missed seeing until it was too late) was the FWB 103 SSP 10-meter pistol, one of our readers with sharper eyes snagged. He brought it by my table to boast and I took a picture for you.

An FWB 103 single stroke pneumatic target pistol was a fantastic find for one of our readers.

He tried to complain about what he had to pay for this find, but his complaint lacked sincerity. I wanted to tell him that in 23 years of attending airgun shows this is the first time a current model FWB target pistol has ever been offered, to my knowledge. And you buy them when you see them!

Sold some stuff

I had some luck selling at my table, too, so I was able to make a few unplanned purchases. One was a Diana model 50 underlever. I have owned these in the past, but this one is real old and not like the ones I’ve had. It’s somewhat slimmer, with better wood and deeper bluing. And it has the older Diana peep/sport rear sight that’s so unique! It will be a pleasure to test it for you!

And I mentioned to Don Raitzer that I was in the market for a pre-war Diana model 5V pistol, and of course he had one on his table. When I saw the price — $75 — I didn’t even bargain. Just stripped off the bills and bought it. Don said it was a .22, but it’s actually a .177 that is better because these oldies are none too powerful.

I bought this pre-WW II Diana model 5V pistol from Don Raitzer.

We had a guest blog about the Diana 5V pistol back in 2010, and I put it on my bucket list then. When I got the post-war Diana 5 (Winchester 353) a month ago, it awakened my desire to find the older gun. And Findlay was where it happened!

What about a big bore?

You all know about the modern big bore airguns, and if you are faithful readers of this blog you have also been exposed to the big bores of the past. At my very first airgun show in 1993 I saw an original Paul .410 air shotgun on a table, and in the 24 years that have passed, I haven’t seen another. Until Findlay. There it was — laying on a table with no special signs or anything. Not a Paul, but its rival — the Vincent. It’s a multi-pump air shotgun that looks like a Benjamin pump on steroids.

A .410 Vincent air shotgun from the 1920s was just laying on a table among the BB guns.

Were modern airguns there?

What about modern airguns? Many of you like looking at the older stuff (thank you, by the way) but your really wanting modern airguns. Well, they were there in force! I didn’t take a lot of pictures, because you can see them anytime on the websites of their dealers, but there were Daystates, BSAs and other well-known big bores.

What I thought was more interesting than the current models, though, were the guns that have recently become obsolete. Theobens, for example, are wonderful gas spring rifles that were sold until recent years. Kevin Hull had a table full of them! This is also where your Beeman Crow Magnums live.

Whenever you are seeing beautiful wood stocks that look like highly figured walnut, but are African Heydua, and metal with deep gorgeous bluing, you know they are on Theobens. Kevin Hull’s table.

Toys, too

Findlay calls their show Toys That Shoot — a not-so-subtle reminder of what the rest of the world thinks of airguns. But there is more than just airguns, and at Findlay a great many dealers specialized in actual toys. There are roughly three themes to their toys — cowboys, space and war. Of these, cowboys rank highest.

Lunchboxes for Gabby, Hoppy and all the gang!

And there are the guys that go with them! They are action figures — never call them dolls!

The Larc

I’ll finish today with a Larc — a BB machine gun you readers were talking about a few days ago while I was looking at the real thing. The Larc was powered by a can of Freon refrigerant gas, which is about as politically correct today as the California state legislature sponsoring a youth marksmanship program! It works by blowing gas under pressure across the opening of a metal “straw” that siphons BBs from a bulk reservoir. When they pop up into the gas stream, they are blown out the barrel. It works like a machine gun with no moving parts!

The Larc BB machine gun was powered by Freon.

Larcs are frequently seen at the larger airgun shows, but as time passes the price for one rises. At one time these sold for under $20, but you can expect to pay many times that today.

There is more

I will have one more installment to the 2017 Findlay airgun show, but I think I will give you a break for a couple days.

2017 Findlay airgun show: Part 1

Út, 04/11/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Stupid me
  • The show
  • Pyramyd Air
  • William Schooley
  • Crosman — this is for you
  • Stuff at the show
  • Remington model 26 BB gun
  • IZH 46M
  • Pyramyd Air — again!
  • Best for last
Stupid me

Well, the verdict in in — I’m stupid! I have a case of ignorance for which there is no cure. I just drove 2,400 miles to attend a one-day airgun show that I had hoped to report to you, and forgot to take my camera! Took the charger and some flash drives so I could transfer the images — just didn’t take the picture-taker thingy!

Fortunately for me, I live in an age where there are safety nets everywhere for people like me. My smart phone has a better camera built into it than the first digital camera I owned. Let me show you how good it is.

I was in Illinois, flying down the road at 6 a.m., when I saw one of those tractor/trailers that has aerodynamic flaps on the rear of the trailer. It reminded me of a diabolo pellet, except the purpose of these flaps is not to create drag, but instead to smooth out the air behind the trailer and lower the drag. That gives the tractor pulling the trailer better fuel mileage. The flaps can be deployed, as shown here, or folded flat and out of the way.

Hey! This would make a good intro to my report — Oh, NO! I forgot to bring my camera! Well, my phone has a camera in it. Let’s see how it works.

The first picture is pretty much what the camera saw as I was holding the phone with both hands while steadying the steering wheel with my left forearm (at 70 miles per hour, no less)! I just wanted you to see what I have to work with.

This is the image my smart phone captured.

The second picture is one I cleaned up and enhanced in Photoshop to make everything more visible. I show it today to show you how much has to go into a photo to make it interesting.

These four metal flaps streamline the tail of the trailer, lowering drag and increasing mileage. Over a long haul, they really pay off.

The show

Now for the show. It was held at a different venue this year — a much larger venue, and that made all the difference in the world! It seemed that each vendor brought their very best stuff, without anyone telling them to. And the attendees had lots of money in their pockets! So, this turned out to be the best airgun show I ever attended. Now I will tell you the specifics.

Pyramyd Air

Let me start with the very best. Pyramyd Air brought guns they acquired when they bought the business of another Ohio airgun dealer. These ranged from very old spring rifles to things as new as a new-in-the-box IZH 46M. I saw the list the evening before the show and put in my offer for the 90 percent Beeman R8. Before you ask, no, it’s not for sale because it’s already been sold. More people offered me money and trades for that gun than for any other on my tables, and that one was hidden out of sight!

I bought other things from them, too, including an FWB 124 Deluxe that sat on their table for most of the show. I couldn’t believe it! People even picked it up! With 124s as red hot as they are right now, people were avoiding this one like the plague. I finally bought it only because they sold it so low I had to! I got it for almost Bronco money, and yes, there was one of those, too. So, buck up, campers! You’re about to endure yet another foray into the fascinating world of the 124.

I will reveal the rest of the things I got from them over time — through the history column. Many people I talked to at this show told me that the history column is their favorite part of the blog.

William Schooley

Speaking of people, I met more readers at this show that at any other airgun show. Everyone must have felt comfortable coming up and saying hello! But the one I took a picture of is our marksmanship coach and reader, William Schooley.

Marksmanship coach William Schooley has an idea for Crosman.

Crosman — this is for you

William wants to see the Benjamin Maximus turned into a budget 10-meter rifle for the CMP/NRA Sporter class. He wants a rifle that the parents of kids can afford to purchase, instead of using a club gun. That way they can practice more. He says he sees many kids who could go much farther if they just had equipment of their own.

We talked about the 10-year olds squirming around on the mat as they try to pump the Daisy 853 while in the prone position. It’s a wonderful airgun, but not very friendly when it comes to pumping. The Maximus would solve that problem.

He doesn’t want Crosman to go nuts modifying the rifle, either. It’s accurate enough as it is, and we already know that coaches and dads can modify the trigger. There are limits on how light a sporter-class trigger can be, and we both think the Maximus will be ideal. It probably needs target sights and perhaps a few other things that will occur to the designers.

It seems to be a great idea for how to sell more Maximus rifles, if Crosman is interested. If they are, I told William I would make the introductions and get out of the way.

Stuff at the show

Okay, besides Pyramyd Air, there were about another hundred dealers at the show. I don’t have time to show everything today, but we can get started.

Remington model 26 BB gun

A what? Remington made BB guns? Yes, they really did, and their gun was a very substantial slide-action. They called it the model 26, as opposed to Daisy’s Number 25. They are very uncommon. I seldom see even one at a show. I think I saw 4 at Findlay!

A Remington model 26 BB gun in fine condition.


People always tell me they are looking for IZH 61s and 46Ms. They should have been at Findlay. There was everything from a NIB 46 on the Pyramyd table to several in fine condition walking the floor and lying on tables. And a steel-receiver 61 walked around the show on somebody’s back.

An IZH 46M awaits a new owner.

Oh, and by the way, I saw sales ticket prices fall like meteors! Five-hundred-dollar airguns (the price on the tag) were going home with new owners for $300! I even know of better deals than that, but I am sworn to secrecy — really!

Pyramyd Air — again!

A final nose-tweak for those who didn’t make the drive. Here are a few of the choicer airguns Pyramyd Air was selling.

Haenel 300
HW 50SE (yes — the old one!)
Diana 38 (walnut stocked version of the 34, and NIB!)
Sheridan Blue Streak rocker safety
Sheridan Silver Streak thumb safety
Wischo 70 (BSF S70)
Beeman R8
FWB 124 Deluxe
Tell breakbarrel rifle (a real old breakbarrel!)
Slavia 619
BSF S20 in the box
Crosman 115 pistol in the box
Crosman 116 pistol in the box
Benjamin Marauder Gen 1 NIB .177
Benjamin Marauder Gen 1 NIB .22 (2)
Crosman 1400
Crosman 622
American-assembled Sterling HR83
Japanese Sakaba (copy of the Tell breakbarrel)
Crosman 160 (2)

That is about one-quarter of the list, which is about half of what Pyramyd Air bought from the collector/dealer. The cherry-pickers had a field day at Findlay this year, and I was among them.

Best for last

Not only was this show in a new and larger venue this year. It was also the only airgun show I have seen where they post the colors (the American flag) and everyone says the pledge of allegiance. You know — everyone seemed to know the words! Then a minister opened the show with a blessing. These two things speak to the high pedigree of the show’s organizers — who are basically Dan Lerma and his family.

Five Eagle Scouts posted the colors before the pledge of allegiance.

There is a lot more to tell, so keep watching this space!

Crosman’s M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 2

Po, 04/10/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun is a classic lookalike airgun.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Cocking effort
  • 2013 test
  • Oiled the gun
  • Magazine
  • Velocity Daisy BBs
  • Air Venturi steel BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of Crosman’s M1 Carbine BB gun. You learned in Part 1 that this gun is based on Crosman’s V-350 powerplant which gets its name from the expected velocity — 350 f.p.s. That’s pretty hot for a BB gun — especially one from the era of the 1960s.

I may not have mentioned it before, but my Carbine weighs 5 lbs. It’s a good weight for kids. Too bad they can’t cock it!

Cocking effort

Let’s get this out of the way first. I think this will be the first time I have measured this effort, and I made a big deal of it in Part 1. So I placed the muzzle of the gun in the center of my scale and pressed down until the gun cocked. It took about 42 pounds of force to cock my gun. It was hard to measure it precisely because the gun jerked a lot while being cocked, but it was definitely greater than 38 pounds to engage the sear. No wonder kids had a hard time!

I thought shooting might loosen up the action, so I retested it after the velocity test. The effort hadn’t changed.

2013 test

I last tested the velocity of my Crosman M1 Carbine in 2013. At that time I was getting velocities well above 350 f.p.s. — as much as 40 f.p.s. faster. A number of new BBs have come to market since then, so today we may have a pleasant surprise.

Oiled the gun

This is a BB gun, so I oiled the mechanism first. There is an oil port behind the BB loading port on top of the upper handguard, so this was easy. Then I started shooting.


The gun has an inline 22-shot BB magazine under the upper handguard. What looks like the mag is really just a box that can be filled with Bbs for reloading. But it doesn’t fed into the gun.

Load the BBs through a hole in the front of the upper handguard.

What looks like the magazine is just a box for extra BBs. It doesn’t feed into the gun.

Velocity Daisy BBs

I will test velocity with Daisy BBs first. In 2013 they averaged 383 f.p.s. Today the average was 375. The spread went from a low of 360 to a high of 385, so the gun is still in the same neighborhood. The spread was 23 f.p.s., where in 2013 it was 26 f.p.s. This test was a sort of baseline, because I had done it before.

Air Venturi steel BBs

Next I tried Air Venturi steel BBs that weren’t available in 2013. They averaged 374 f.p.s. with a spread from 358 to 382 f.p.s. That’s 24 f.p.s. difference.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

The last BB I tried was the Hornady Black Diamond. These were also0 not around in 2013. They averaged 372 f.p.s. with a spread from 354 to 377 f.p.s. That’s 23 f.p.s.

Trigger pull

The trigger is not adjustable. It is single-stage and breaks at 2 lbs. 8 oz.


My gun is performing pretty much as it did 4 years ago. For a gun that is no less than 41 years old, that is pretty good!

So far, so good. The M1 Carbine has performed admirably for the 20 years I have owned it. It was a gift from my late friend, Mac, so I think of him whenever I shoot it.

Crosman’s M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 1

Pá, 04/07/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun is a classic lookalike airgun.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Tom the doofus
  • Modern Quackenbush
  • The danger
  • A classic based on an icon!
  • Different valve
  • Repeater
  • Sights
  • More to come

Daisy may have given lookalike airguns the name “Spittin’ Image” but Crosman gave us the most iconic BB gun of all time — the M1 Carbine. Yes, I have written about this gun in the past. Now I’m getting it into the historical archives.


The M1 Carbine first came out in 1966. For all of that year and the next it had a genuine wood stock. These early variations are easy to spot because the sides of the stock are flat, since they were basically cut from boards. In 1968 Crosman began producing the gun with a synthetic stock they called Croswood, and production continued until 1976. Let me tell you — except for a plastic-y shine, Croswood is very realistic. In my opinion the Croswood stock makes the more attractive gun, because the stock is rounded and fully shaped.

The Crosman M1 Carbine is based on the Crosman V-350 BB gun. What Crosman did was re-skin the V-350 with Carbine features. The V-350 model name stands for the velocity, which was around 350 f.p.s. The Carbine inherited all of that, so it’s a powerful gun.

Crosman’s V-350 is at the heart of their M1 Carbine.

Tom the doofus

Before I became B.B. Pelletier, I was as ignorant of airguns as the next guy. In fact, in the late 1980s, when someone tried to sell me a Crosman M1 Carbine for $15, I said no because I didn’t want any CO2 airguns. As much as I knew about Crosman at that time I thought CO2 gun were all they made. Well, the M1 Carbine is not CO2. It’s a springer!

Modern Quackenbush

In fact, it operates in the same way the vintage Quackenbush spring guns did — by pushing (or pulling) the barrel in until the sear catches the piston. After that, return the barrel and shoot the gun like any other springer.

Two things about the M1 Carbine give away its operation. Unless you are looking at a fully pristine gun, there will be finish wear on the rear of the barrel for several inches. That’s from the barrel sliding in each time the gun is cocked.

Here the rifle is uncocked, or it has been cocked and the barrel has been returned to the forward position.

Here the barrel has been pulled back and the gun is now cocked. The barrel must be pushed forward again before firing.

The finish on the rear of the barrel wears from cocking.

The second giveaway is finish wear at the muzzle. This BB gun is very hard to cock, even for adults. In fact, that’s probably what killed the gun in the end. I’ll get to that in a moment, but most of the guns you’ll see will be worn from handling around the front sight, which is always used as an anchor when cocking.

The danger

Since it is so hard to cock, kids had to resort to extreme and often unsafe measures to get the job done. One was was to push the muzzle against something hard like a tree trunk. Another way, and the most dangerous one was to put the palm of the hand over the muzzle and to push down on the barrel with the butt resting on the ground. A safer way, though still not recommended, was to put the muzzle on the ground on something hard like a book and push down on the butt.

It’s my belief that the difficulty of cocking is what lead to the eventual demise of the gun. Not because on inconvenience, but for safety concerns. I will test the cocking effort in Part 2. Then we will all know.

A classic based on an icon!

The Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun is of course based on the U.S. Army’s M1 Carbine from WW II. That was a rifle that supposedly was to replace the M1911A1 pistol, because the Army felt too may soldiers could not shoot the pistol accurately enough. But, because it was a long gun and also carried the moniker caliber .30 M1 (but it chambered a much smaller cartridge than the Garand), soldiers mentally transferred the status of the M1 Garand to the Carbine and tried to imagine it as a battle rifle. It never lived up to that, and was condemned by many as a failed rifle, when what it really was, was a unique replacement for a sidearm.

At the same time they condemned it, many soldiers also loved it for being lightweight and easy to carry. A love/hate relationship formed. I believe that it is nearly impossible to examine the jewel-like Carbine action and not to fall in love — with the mechanism, if nothing more. That love sets the stage for the Crosman M1 Carbine.

The U.S. .30-caliber M1 Carbine above and the Crosman M1 Carbine below. The firearm is my S’G’ collector’s gun that has a late-issue bayonet lug under the barrel. That was an option any Carbine could have.

Different valve

The Crosman Carbine (as well as the V-350 and V-3500) has a different kind of valve. It is a spring-piston design, but there is more. It’s been years since I was inside one, but as I recall, the valve contains the increasing air pressure until it pops open at the end of the piston’s travel. This “champagne-cork” effect adds something to the velocity, I believe.


This is a repeater. The barrel must be cocked for each shot, but the inline BB magazine holds 22 BBs that are gravity-fed at cocking. That’s one reason why putting the muzzle on the ground to cock it not a good idea.


The rear sight is one of the most exceptional parts of this BB gun! It looks and even operates like the original. The Carbine started out with a flip rear sight that had two heights. But that was replaced by a much nicer rear sight that adjusts in both directions. The Crosman M1 Carbine has this nicer sight and it adjusts the same way.

The firearm Carbine has a unique rear peep sight.

The Crosman Carbine rear sight is very similar to the firearm sight.

More to come

There is more to come, as this will be a complete 3-part test. The last report I did was in 2013, and in the 4 years that have passed a lot of exciting new BBs have come to market, so perhaps there will be a surprise in store!

Long-range handgun shooting

Čt, 04/06/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Sixguns
  • Artillery
  • A snubnosed .38
  • It’s easy!

I was asked to write this report, and I’m glad to do it. I made the statement that I shot Colt Single Action revolvers at 300 yards and apparently some readers were intrigued. Actually, that wasn’t the whole story, so today you’re getting the rest of it.


I acquired the book Sixguns by Elmer Keith when I was a stunt gunfighter at Frontier Village amusement park in San Jose California in the late 1960s. I was young and impressionable at the time, so I didn’t know that Elmer Keith was widely held to be a liar. He reported taking several long-range handgun shots that got him game and the couch reporters of the day didn’t believe him. But I did, so I tried what he wrote and discovered that it does work. I guess I’m a liar, too!

In this picture I was the deputy marshal (white hat) of Frontier Village. Gave the marshal a day off.

I shot beachball-sized rocks at 300 yards with a Colt 1860 Army cap and ball revolver. The holdover was tremendous, but once I got it figured out, it was hard to miss. And the lead balls made a nice splat on the rocks.

Please don’t ask me if I shot this way standing up and offhand! That’s the stuff of Hollywood! Nobody in the real world can connect from a shot that far away from the standing offhand position. I shot just like Keith taught me to — sitting down and resting my elbows against my knees. Or I shot one-handed with my hand resting against the outside of my extended leg. It is a variation of the Creedmore shooting position that I have showed you numerous times in the past. You have to try this stuff to see that it really works!

Yes, I have told you this before. I described it in the report titled How to rest any handgun for accurate shooting.

Here Keith is shooting with a one-hand hold. This is good for 300-yard shots.

This is the two-hand hold. It is even better for long-range handgun shots.

Here I am using a variation of the two-hand hold. My arms are resting on a sandbag.


Although I was a tanker, I have a lot of respect for field artillery. I was a 4.2-inch mortar platoon leader in Germany and had to learn some of the intricacies of indirect fire. It’s one thing to aim at your target, but something else to aim at a reference point, knowing that your projectile is going over a mile high and three miles downrange, to land within 40 meters of the target!

This is one of my 4 mortar tracks. Yes, when I was younger the world was in black and white!

My platoon had failed their annual test the previous year and were assigned to me — a senior first lieutenant — to bring them up to speed. We practiced our drills every day, until we could do them in our sleep. And, when we took the test (an ARTEP, for you soldiers), we were ranked top in the division, among several dozen other mortar platoons. During our live-fire test we actually landed one 4.2-inch mortar round down the turret of one of the target tanks, blowing the turret off the tank! That was nothing but luck, but they say if you shoot a lot you get lucky a lot.

The division commander (First Armored Division) saw that shot and wanted to give every member of my platoon an impact (on the spot) Army Commendation Medal, but my company commander declined his offer. The evening before, during practice, one of my gunners had read his sight backwards and we hung a 4.2-inch flare over a German village behind us and outside the Grafenwoehr training area! A 4.2-inch mortar flare is so bright that there is no way anyone can miss it! Which is my way of telling you we were good — just not perfect.

A snubnosed .38

The last story I will recount is one I find hard to believe. But since I did it, I know it’s true. I was on a German farm with a hunting buddy and we had permission to shoot handguns over a certain plowed field. Among the guns we had, I had brought a Colt Agent snubnosed .38 Special. I had been telling my friend about Elmer Keith and long-range handgun shooting and he decided to call me on it.

It is possible to shoot long-range even with a snubnosed revolver like this Colt Agent.

He said I should be able to hit anything with a snubnosed .38, just like any other handgun. After all, he reminded me, a mortar has a 4-foot barrel and can hit targets three miles away. It had been years since I had done any long-range shooting that way, but I rested against a tree and sighted the little pistol on a football-sized dirt clod out in the field. We were sitting on a ridge about 15 feet above the field, so I was shooting into the dirt safely enough. We agreed on which clod I would shoot at and I asked him to spot for me. Shot one was too low. Shot two went over, and so did shot three. But shots four and five hit the clod we agreed on and broke it apart.

My friend then had to try it himself and went through the same drill he had seen me do. He was also successful. After it was over he said he was surprised by how easy it had been. And that is the lesson today.

It’s easy!

Long-range handgun shooting is not just possible; it’s easy! Once you learn where to hold, and if you hold like those photographs above show, you almost can’t miss.

I will say that pellets don’t make the same impact signs that heavy bullets do, so spotting will be harder, but if you can find a way to do it, you can shoot pellet guns long range, as well.

Kral Puncher Pro B W PCP rifle: Part 1

St, 04/05/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Kral Puncher Pro PCP. The test rifle’s walnut stock is not as blonde as this one.

This report covers:

  • I am impressed
  • Kral and I go back
  • Comparison
  • Adjustable power
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Manual
  • Dual scope base
  • Magazines
  • Fills with a probe
  • Word on the street
  • Summary

Today I’m starting a test of the new Kral Arms Puncher Pro PCP rifle. This one is serial number 161101 6372, and is in .22 caliber. It also comes in .177 and soon in .25. It has a walnut stock that fits me almost like a glove! The woodwork is dynamite! The one hangup I have is an edge that doesn’t fit at the thumbrest, and if I owned this rifle I would sculpt away some of the wood there.

I am impressed

To quote the 18th century British seaman — I’m impressed! Kral has written on the receiver the fill pressure as 200 bar or 2900 psi. This is the first time I have seen an airgun company get it right! They usually write 200 bar/3000 psi, which is just like calling a BB a 4.5mm projectile, when it’s 4.3mm all day long.

Kral and I go back

I’ve tested other Kral airguns in the past. They were breakbarrel springers and were crudely made. And, they fired when the safety was taken off, so I was asked to destroy them. There is a new crop of Kral spring guns at Pyramyd Air, but it will take some time before the bad taste leaves. Their PCPs, on the other hand, are a different proposition. Now that I have one (several, actually) in hand and can examine them closely, I can see why Pyramyd Air is so excited. The workmanship appears top-drawer, leaving me to wonder if Kral perhaps has two different factories.

Okay, the Kral Puncher Pro is a 12-shot (.22) repeater that retails for $550. Let’s see — are there any other repeating PCPs that sell for about the same money? Hmmm!


Yes, there will be comparisons made between the Kral Puncher Pro and the Benjamin Marauder. And I guess I will be making some of them. It’s hard not to; the Marauder has been the standard for so long. So, let me get started.

The rifle I’m testing is a .22 caliber. It has a slender Turkish walnut stock (there’s a difference) with a finger groove on either side of the forearm. Nobody else offers Turkish walnut on a basic rifle. The bottom of the forearm is deeply stippled, with the logo and name of the rifle in high relief. The pistol grip has a deep thumb groove that feels wonderful to me. The woodwork is flawless. On a premium European PCP, this stock would add at least $200 to the price.

The bottom of the forearm is deeply stippled.

The rifle weighs 8.6 lbs. Overall length is 41.3-inches, which isn’t long for a full rifle. The barrel is 22.8-inches long. The length of pull is 13-3/4-inches. The action is a bolt and the magazine is spring-loaded to advance to the next pellet (there’s a similarity).

Now, where have we seen a magazine like this before?

Adjustable power

A knob on the right side of the receiver allows the shooter to adjust power. The knob on the test rifle is hard to turn and doesn’t have detents. There are power markings on the left side of the receiver. I will test several settings in the velocity test.

On the left side of the receiver the power adjuster shows the level selected.

Adjustable trigger

The trigger is 2-stage and adjustable. After reading the manual I have no clue exactly what adjusts, but I will look into it for you.


Speaking of the manual, it’s written in broken English, but it’s also very comprehensive and even thoughtful. For instance, they tell you what pellet was used to test velocity of the .177 version. They also include several pages of an illustrated parts breakdown that hobbyists will enjoy.

It’s nice to get a test sheet like this. It’s serialized to this rifle! The values given to each pellet hit are from ISSF 10-meter rifle competition.

And they sent a test report with the manual that is serial-numbered to this rifle. It has a graphic (not a picture) of the test target and 6 shots with the velocities. It shows 6 shots in a 4mm center-to-center group at 10 meters. That’s pretty good news, I think.

Brass female screw threads in the forearm are there for a bipod. I will try to find out what fits.

Dual scope base

Of course the rifle needs some kind of optical sight (a scope), so the top of the receiver is dovetailed. But on this rifle there are dovetails for both 11mm and Weaver scope ring bases. Either one will fit. The receiver is divided for the magazine that sits proud, so 2-piece rings are a must.

The scope base includes both 11mm and Weaver dovetails.


The rifle comes with two 12-shot magazines and a single-shot tray! Those things are options with most PCPs.

Fills with a probe

On the negative side, the rifle fills with a probe. A probe is quick, but if it is proprietary like this one, you need to change your fill hose each time you fill. I wish companies would just standardize on the Foster fitting that is so fast and easy to use!

Word on the street

So far the Kral PCPs are getting great ratings. Pyramyd Air can’t keep them in stock, and when you consider the huge price differential between this rifle and the top end European airguns that offer equivalent features, the reason should be clear. The .22 caliber gun appears to be the one to get. So for once I’m testing a rifle the public wants.


I see a lot to like in this rifle, and if the reviews of the Kral PCPs are any indication, it’s a good one. This will be an interesting test.

Air Arms Galahad: Part 6

Út, 04/04/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Arms Galahad PCP in walnut is a striking looking air rifle!

UTG 8-32 SWAT Mil Dot
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • JSB Exact Jumbo
  • JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53mm heads
  • Crosman Premiers
  • UTG 8-32 SWAT scope
  • Summary

This final report has taken two months to complete. I went to the range one time and shot the rifle at 50 yards, but the wind was blowing on that day and the groups were not good. I felt that was due entirely to the wind, so I needed to try it another day. It took me most of the time to get that second day — a combination of other business and a lot of windy Texas days!

Today I am reporting on the .22 caliber Galahad-rifle from Air Arms at 50 yards. Naturally I shot off a rest. The rifle was shot on power setting 4 (there are 5 settings) and I refilled after every second 10-shot group. Let’s get right to it.

JSB Exact Heavy

The first pellet I tried was the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo dome. They landed high and to the left of the aim point, but I wasn’t worried about that. Ten of them went into 0.92-inches at 50 yards, which isn’t too bad!

The Galahad put 10 JSB Exact Jumbo (15.89-grain) domes into 0.92-inches at 50 yards.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

I didn’t think the 15.89-grain pellet was the best for the Galahad, so next up was the 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. This was the pellet I had the most hope for. The first 10 grouped in 0.741-inches, which is pretty spectacular. So I shot a second group at the end of the test, just to check.

The Galahad put 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy (18.1-grain) domes into 0.741-inches at 50 yards. That is a group!

I adjusted the scope a little for this second group, although it still isn’t centered or quite low enough. This time 10 pellets went into 1.239-inches — BUT — one shot was a called pull! I saw the sight move to the left just as the rifle fired. The other 9 pellets are in 0.926-inches.

On the second attempt the Galahad put 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy (18.1-grain) domes into 1.239-inches at 50 yards, but one shot was a called pull. The other 9 are in 0.926-inches.

H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53mm heads

The third pellet I tried in the Galahad was the H&N Baracuda Match with 5.53mm heads. This pellet did not do as well at 25 yards, and I wanted to test it at 50 to see if the relationship held. It did. Ten shots at 50 yards went into 1.608-inches, with 9 in 1.35-inches. That’s not good, in light of what both the JSBs did.

Ten H&N Baracuda Match domes made a 1.608-inch group at 50 yards. Given what the two JSB pellets did, this one isn’t for the Galahad.

Crosman Premier

The final pellet I tested was the .22-caliber Crosman Premier. Ten went into 1.46-inches. This is another pellet that isn’t well-suited to the Galahad.

Ten Crosman Premiers made a 1.46-inch group at 50 yards.

UTG 8-32 SWAT scope

Remember that I linked to the UTG 8-32 SWAT scope that I mounted on this rifle. This rifle was also a test of that scope, and several readers asked to see what the rifle looked like with that large scope mounted. So I took a picture for you.

I don’t think the UTG scope looks too large on the Galahad.

This UTG scope is very clear, as all UTG premium scopes are, these days. It is exceptionally bright on 32 power and it is a scope I can always recommend. It is large, but look at it on the rifle to see how it compares.


The Air Arms Galahad that I tested is remarkable in several ways. First, the bullpup design shortens it without loosing precious barrel length. Next, it cocks via a paddle on the left side of the gun. Several readers like that placement, though I didn’t find it any easier than a conventional bolt.

The uniformity of velocity at all power levels is perhaps the best feature the Galahad offers. It is very consistent, plus it gives you lots of shots at the higher-power settings. You can thank a regulator for that. Remember, though, that the full fill on this rifle is to 250 bar (3,626 psi).

Finally, I think the accuracy speaks for itself. While other premium PCPs are capable of these results, only the top airguns can do it. I think the Galahad is a rifle you should consider when you move up to a top-class PCP.

BSF S70 air rifle: Part 3

Po, 04/03/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSF S70 rifle is the father of several famous Weirauch models.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Shoots low
  • Hobbys
  • Premier lites
  • The sights and my new eye
  • RWS Superdomes
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Conclusion

In Part 2 we learned that this BSF S70 breakbarrel springer is more powerful than German law allows, despite the presence of the Freimark. Today we discover if it is accurate.

The test

I shot the rifle off a rest at 10 meters. I used the artillery hold. And I used the sights that came with the rifle, because that was part of why I conducted this test. My other BSF S70 is more powerful and has an aftermarket peep sight. And I had to bend its barrel down to get it on target, because somebody in the past had fired the rifle with the barrel open.

Shoots low

So, imagine my surprise to discover that this apparently stock S70 shoots very low. With the rear sight adjusted as high as it will go, the rifle still hits 2 inches below the aim point at 10 meters. Some of that is due to the fact that I am shooting with a 6 o’clock hold that’s inappropriate for the bead front sight that’s on the rifle. That bead is supposed to be held in the center of the target, but it disappears when I do that. However, I’m still hitting 2 inches below the bead. So I aimed at one bull on the 10-meter air rifle target and my pellets landed in the center of the bull below. Maybe I need to bend the barrel of this rifle up?


First to be tested were 7-grain RWS Hobby pellets. I only looked at the first shot to confirm I was on target and then fired the other 9 rounds without looking through the spotting scope again. When I finished shooting I looked and saw a vertical group that measures 1.043-inches between centers. I don’t think Hobbys are the right pellet for this rifle.

Ten RWS Hobby pellets made this 1.043-inch group at 10 meters.

Premier lites

Next up were Crosman Premier lite pellets. These grouped much better with a spread between the centers of just 0.67-inches. Given that I’m shooting with open sights, I think that’s not too bad.

Ten Premier lites went into 0.67-inches at 10 meters.

The sights and my new eye

I was very pleased that the sights were clear and sharp throughout this test. My cataract-free right eye could see the sight picture very clearly, and there were no called pulls (shots that went wide because of something you know you did). I might not be using the sights as intended, but I am using them consistently.

RWS Superdomes

The next pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome that was the heaviest pellet I tested in Part 2. I thought they might surprise me and they did — sort of. Ten Superdomes went into a 1.287-inch group that was the largest of the test. But 8 of those pellets landed in a very round 0.673-inch group in the center of the bull. Looking at it I have to wonder what’s going on.

Ten RWS Superdomes landed in 1.287-inches at 10 meters, with 8 of them clustered in a nice 0.673-inches in the center of the bull.

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS. I felt they might do well, and they did. Ten of them made a group measuring 0.603-inches between centers at 10 meters. That’s the best group of the test.

Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.603-inches at 10 meters — the best group of this test.


This report has resolved a semi-mystery and raised another ione. We now know the BSF S70 is more powerful than 7.5 joules, and we know that with tuning it can reach 12 foot-pounds. But it shoots low — at least this one does. The other one shot high, but that was caused by mechanical damage — or was it? Was that perhaps the result of an attempt to correct the problem we are seeing today? Who can say?

The BSF S70 is certainly a classic air rifle, and it is the father of a number of popular air rifles made by Weihrauch. In its day the rifle was considered one of the most powerful, but time has turned it into a tame air rifle. A fellow could do worse than to own one of these old-timers.

50-dollar PCP!!!

So, 04/01/2017 - 11:27


I don’t think we should publish this report yet. We don’t even know if these guys are going to produce it. I don’t know how they built even one of these things, because I’m getting quarter-inch 10-shot groups at 50 yards! And the thing is regulated. And it has a decent trigger!

You know if I publish this, people are just going to complain that the hand pumps cost too much. I think we should sit on it until we see the first shipment.

Tom, I know you have misgivings, but I am assured they will deliver on time. They tell me all the parts are manufactured, and it’s now just down to finishing and assembly. We tested the same rifle and I don’t see why they can’t produce as many of them as they want. Just their new barrel, with its screw-machine production method, will be a winner! And they tell me they can produce the barrel for a retail target price of ten dollars. Imagine all the other PCPs that can be upgraded as a result! Let’s run with it.

Okay, you have convinced me. But let’s not tell them today. They’ll never believe it.

Diana’s model 5 air pistol: Part 3

Pá, 03/31/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This Diana model 5 air pistol is marked as a Winchester model 353.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Hobbys
  • A couple observations
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • Crosman Premier lites
  • Qiang Yuan Training pellets
  • Summary

Today is accuracy day for the Diana model 5 air pistol I’m testing, which is labeled a Winchester 353. We heard from several owners who like their pistols, so let’s see what this one can do.

The test

To get right into it, I didn’t know where the sights were adjusted. You may remember I mentioned that the rear sight was adjusted all the way over to the right. I decided to shoot the first group as the gun was set up. After that I could adjust the sights. All shooting was done from 10 meters with a 2-hand hold and my arms rested on a sandbag. I used a 6 o’clock hold.


The first target was shot with RWS Hobby pellets. They fit the breech tight, with the skirts not entering the barrel completely. They hit the target high and to the right. That told me that the rear sight is adjusted too far to the right.

Ten Hobbys went into a vertical group that measures 1.635-inches between centers. I didn’t know what to expect from this pistol, but this is a larger group than I imagined.

Ten RWS Hobbys made this 1.635-inch group at 10 meters when shot from the Diana model 5 pistol. There is a hole in the bull at the bottom (arrow).

A couple observations

First, the trigger is very light. It doesn’t stop at the second stage, so when you’re on it expect the gun to fire at any time.

I was able to adjust the rear sight to the left, but it was already set as low as it would go. So I had to live with where it impacted the target.

The front sight is a tapered post. It’s not ideal for precision shooting and I’m sure some of the openness of the groups is due to that. The rear notch is square and screams for a square front post.

Air Arms Falcon

The second pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon. These struck the target just left of center, but were still too high. They made a group that measures 1.399-inches between centers.

Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets went into 1.399-inches at 10 meters.

Falcons fit the breech loose, but not so loose that they presented a problem. I rather enjoyed loading them.

Crosman Premier lites

Next up were Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domed pellets. These fit the breech snug, but they loaded easily. I had high hopes for them and they didn’t disappoint. First of all, they went to the exact center of the bull. And they struck much lower, with at least 5 of them landing in the 9- and 10-rings. Nine of the pellets landed in a 1.276-inch group, but a stray shot opened that to 2.203-inches. I believe that shot was caused by an aiming error and is not representative of the accuracy of this pellet. Although this was the largest group, I do believe this is the best pellet I tested.

Premier lites were well-centered and made a 2.203-inch group. Nine went into 1.276-inches, which is more representative, I believe.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets

The final pellet I tested was the Qiang Yuan Training pellet. I expected great things from this pellet, but it didn’t perform up to my expectations. Ten pellets went into 1.773-inches at 10 meters. This pellet fit the breech the loosest of all 4 that were tested.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets didn’t do as well as I expected. Ten went into 1.773-inches at 10 meters.


Well, what do I think of the Diana model 5? For starters, I was surprised that it didn’t shoot better. I know it’s not a target pistol, but in light of what the BSA Scorpion pistol was able to do a couple years ago, I expected better.

I think Diana missed the mark with the sights they put on this pistol. Or, more correctly, Winchester missed it by not specifying a better front sight.

The funny thing is, the model 5’s brother, the Diana model 6, is very accurate. And the model 10 target pistol is a flyswatter! Maybe because the 5 recoils it’s just too much to handle.

A light report — the UTG Compact Defense LED light

Čt, 03/30/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

UTG Compact Defense light.

This report covers:

  • 2017 SHOT Show
  • Let’s get real
  • Description
  • Main power
  • Lower power
  • L.I.B.R.E.
  • Runtime
  • Defense
  • Come on, BB — a light?
  • Side clip
  • Where to get one

The power went out in my neighborhood last evening, about 11:30 p.m. This time it was serious, because it’s now 7:10 a.m. the next morning and there is still no sign of restoration. [Note: the power was restored at 7:50 a.m.]

Power here in Texas is pretty reliable because this state is off the national power grid, but when I lived in Maryland that wasn’t the case. Power on the Eastern seaboard is iffy at best. So the Pelletier household was always well-stocked with alternative sources of illumination. I became a flashlight fanatic and now own more than 50 sources of portable light, including the Victorinox Midnight Manager pocket knife that is my constant companion.

2017 SHOT Show

While in the Leapers booth at this years’ SHOT Show I saw something so remarkable that I knew I had to share it with you. I will take this whole report to describe the new UTG Defense Light in detail, but let me say right now — this is the one to get! It’s a tactical light that throws out 400 lumens in a number of user-programable ways. But with all that, It fits in the palm of a medium-sized hand!

Few defense lights are so small.

About 10 years ago flashlight technology was nowhere near where it is today. I was so thrilled to pay $80 for a 225 lumen LED light called the Fenix TK10. It is housed in a rugged metal body that’s tough enough to withstand an armored personnel carrier running over it. I watched a video of the TK10 withstanding more than 20,000 lbs. of force that was trying to crush it, and it was still functioning. Okay, sez I. That’s a lot of money for a flashlight, but that’s a lot of flashlight. In fact, it is a non-lethal weapon!

The M113A1 is an 11-ton armored personnel carrier.

Let’s get real

We all talk about what handgun or shotgun we would use to dispatch an intruder, but the truth is, for most of us that situation will thankfully never happen. I have pulled a gun on intruders, only to discover they were some friends of a neighbor, trying to play a practical joke on his car at night. Bad move on both sides! If I had a tactical flashlight (they didn’t exist at the time) I could have startled them at no risk, and if the threat had been real, they would have been incapacitated long enough for me to do something, including running away. So the Fenix was not just a lark. It was something I was serious about. Even Edith saw the sense in that reasoning, and she wanted one for herself.

Well, tactical lights have gotten better by an order of magnitude in the decade since I bought the Fenix. And, when David Ding of Leapers showed me the new EL 223HL-A, I was ready for it! I had hoped that Pyramyd Air would carry this light, but as of this time they haven’t decided to.

Let’s face it — this is a specialized light that is really far afield for airgunners. So, why am I bothering to report on it? Because many of you readers need something like this, and many of you live in states where the options for self defense are highly restricted. I don’t think this light will offend any state’s regulations, but it’s up to you to determine your local laws.


The light has two buttons. The one on top is the main power button and the one on the rear is the lumen control pad and secondary power button. So, how does it work?

The botton on top is the main power, and at the rear, the secondary power.

Main power

If you want a bright light, just press the top main power button and instantly 400 lumens are shining. There are other lights on the market with the same and even greater power, but none of them come in a package as compact and convenient as this.

Lower power

The lumen control pad/secondary power button is where all the magic lives. First, if you hold that button down with the light on, it will dim from 400 lumens to 20 lumens over about 5 seconds. If you stop dimming at any point, the light will shine at that level as long as it is on. If you then click the secondary power button again the light turns off. But here is the neat thing. If you turn the light on with the secondary power button again, it will go to the preset power instead of going to 400 lumens. So, if you need to use a low-level flashlight for some time, this button give you that. Obviously the 2 CR123 batteries will last longer at the lower power than at the maximum.


The technology that does this UTG calls a Light with Integrated Brightness and Regulated Emitter, or L.I.B.R.E. It’s a high-intensity LED, which is where the long runtime comes from.

Compare all this to the Fenix. All it does is turn on and off. No strobe. No dimmer switch. You get just 1.5 hours at 225 lumens with two 123 batteries.


On full power the UTG light gives about 2 hours of runtime. On the lowest power the runtime is about 24 hours.


To activate the strobe, turn on the light with the main power button, then press the secondary power button twice in quick succession. The strobe is dazzlingly bright, and at night will startle someone not expecting it. Even in full daylight it will have a person seeing purple spots instantly.

And here is the very good news. If you turn off the strobe by pressing the secondary power button one time quickly, the light will turn off. The next time you turn the light on with the secondary power button, the 400-lumen strobe will be on! To carry the light for defense, this is the way to set it up. As long as you turn it on and off with the secondary button, the strobe comes on at full power every time!

Come on, BB — a light?

I read about guys who say their self defense weapon is a Smith & Wesson model 19 .357 magnum revolver with a 2.5-inch barrel. When I read that I know I’m reading the musings of mall rangers and couch commandos. Come on — tell me you carry a sidearm like that into a movie theater!

But this light is something you can carry anywhere. You can even carry it into a federal building, where firearms are not permitted. So, drop it into your pocket or purse and it’s there when you need it. That is self-defense! Not talking, but doing. Having what you need when you need it.

Side clip

The light does have a powerful side clip that I cannot see a use for. It doesn’t rotate and it clips at 90 degrees to the direction of the light. If it was 180 degrees I could clip it onto some field gear to have a light in front of me — the way we used to mount those big old OD elbow flashlights we had in the Army.

Where to get one

I searched the internet by looking for UTG EL223HL-A and found several sources. One that’s nearby was priced deceptively low until they added almost $14 to ship it just 20 miles!!! Sorry, guys, but I know that old trick. I found one for less (more for the light, a lot less for shipping) on Amazon. The total came to $53 and change.

This light is not for everybody, but if you have been looking for a good defense light, I don’t think there is a better one to be found.

Benjamin Wildfire PCP repeater: Part 4

St, 03/29/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Wildfire.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Fill problem
  • Air Venturi G6 pump
  • Sight alignment problems
  • Accuracy
  • Summary

I had some operational issues today and learned some things that may be useful to new owners of the Benjamin Wildfire. Today’s test was ostensibly to mount a dot sight and test the rifle for accuracy at 10 meters. This is in preparation for moving back to 25 yards.

Fill problem

First up is a problem I had when filling the rifle. I filled from two different large Carbon fiber tanks and both have this problem. When I try to bleed the line to disconnect the rifle from the tank, the pressure in the line holds the inlet valve of the rifle open and all the air in the reservoir leaks out.

I called Pyramyd Air and talked to Stacey in the tech department. She told me that some air tank valves have bleed valve channels that are so small they do this. She suggested I open the channel just a little with a Swiss triangular needle file. This is not recommended for everyone, but I’m pretty good with a file and small work, so I decided to try it. Only I forgot about it until I filled the Wildfire this morning. Then remembered, and it was too late. With the time it would have taken, you would have gotten a blog about that instead of the rifle.

When the bleed screw is opened, air exhausts through that narrow channel in the screw threads. This one is slightly too narrow for the Wildfire.

Air Venturi G6 pump

So it was the Air Venturi G6 hand pump to the rescue! It filled the gun and exhausted perfectly. Once I modify the two bleed screw on my air tanks I will be able to fill with them again.

Sight alignment problems

The other problem I had was with the dot sight. I’m using a 23 year-old Tasco Pro Point sight that has been on dozens of guns over the years. At some point I dented the sight barrel rather deeply by tightening the scope caps too much. The sight still works, but it doesn’t align with the bore any longer. I do have a solution, but it took me until the end of today’s test to come up with it — because I didn’t know how far off  the point of aim the sight would be! Instead of clamping to the tube on both sides of the turret, I will only clamp on the side that isn’t dented. The thin 2-piece BKL scope rings I am using will allow for that, and the Wildfire doesn’t recoil, so there’s no problem.

You can see the dents left by overtightening scope rings in the past (on the right of the tube). I will now mount the sight like this, which the thin BKL rings permit.

I’m using BKL 303L MB rings. They are thin enough to allow what I want to do.


I took a different tack today. Instead of testing several pellets, I used the pellet that was most accurate in the previous test with open sights. That was the Crosman Premier lite. I sighted-in at 12 feet and discovered that the group was high and to the right. Then I noticed that the dot sight was misaligned because of those dents and probably could not be adjusted to the point of aim. I decided to shoot 12 shots offhand at 12 feet anyway, and they gave me a pleasingly tight group that measures 0.343-inches between centers.

From 12 feet I put 12 Premier pellets into this 0.343-inch group.

I then backed up to 10 meters and shot 12 more pellets. This time they grouped into 0.66-inches. While that’s not terrible, I knew from the last test in Part 3 that this rifle could do better.

At 10 meters 12 Premiers went into 0.66-inches.

This group was vertical and I noticed while shooting that the red dot was very large. I had the dot sight illumination cranked up all the way because the target was so bright, so I tried again. This time I only shot 10 shots.

The second 10-meter group was 10 shots into a group measuring 0.991-inches between centers. This wasn’t good. I was fighting both the brightness of the target and the size of the red dot that was adjusted to 11 on the brightness scale — as high as it goes.

At 10 meters 10 Premiers went into 0.991-inches. The group is very vertical. I was struggling with seeing the dot against the bright target and the fact that the dot was large and therefore less precise.

After this group it dawned on me that a bright target was making my red dot appear dim. So I turned off the 500-watt lamp that normally illuminates my target and immediately things got brighter through the sight. I was able to adjust the dot brightness from 11 down to 5, where it appeared as a tiny dot once more. This was what I had been hoping for. Now it was time to shoot a final 10-shot group.

This last group was the clincher. The pellets acted like they were guided to the target! And this time I got what I was after — a true representation of the accuracy potential of the Benjamin Wildfire. Ten shots went into 0.528-inches at 10 meters. By a small but significant margin, that is the smallest group the rifle has give so far at this distance. With open sights the smallest group measured 0.573-inches for 12 shots.

With the light turned down and the red dot as small as could be seen, the 10-shot group shrank to 0.528-inches at 10 meters.


First of all, I learned a lot from this test. I learned about filling the Wildfire and I learned about mounting tired old optical sights. Those thin 2-piece BKL rings will become an important part of my “go-to” kit from now on.

I also learned that dot sights don’t need or even like bright targets. And I discovered (I hope) a way to salvage an old reliable dot sight that in all ways has served me well.

The Wildfire is performing exactly as I envisioned — which is to say very well. It is what it is — a PCP version of the 1077 that’s a classic. One more test to do — see how it shoots at 25 yards.